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Pope Benedict’s ‘Marshal Plan’

After the destruction unleashed in Europe during World War II, the US used the Marshal Plan to help rebuild Europe so that such a tragedy would not be revisited upon the continet.

We’ve reached time where there is needed a ‘Spiritual Marshal Plan’ to help rebuild and reawaken Europe and ‘The West’ from the spiritual malaise and destruction that has been unleashed over the last 30 to 40 years.

In taking the name ‘Benedict,’ many have argued that our current Holy Father chose to identify with both the original St. Benedict (of Nursia), the founder of Western Monasticism who saved Europe after the decline and fall of the Roman Empire as well as the most recent ‘Benedict (XV), pope during World War I, who helped walk the Church through a tumultuous time after the loss of the Papal States and moved the papacy into the Modern World.

One of the main avenues, besides speeches during his travels, where Pope Benedict XVI has implemented his ‘Spiritual Marshal Plan’ is during his weekly Wednesday General Audiences [1], where he has continued to focus on great saints throughout history.  He began with the Apostles and the Fathers of the Church.  He worked through some of the great early medieval theologians and bishops.  A series on great female mystics and saints was just completed.  A new series on the Doctors of the Church has just begun and continues with today’s reflections on John of the Cross [2].

Don’t take my word for it, Carl Olson lays it out much better than I could, outlining five themes that have found their way into Pope Benedict’s General Audience addresses on the Saints [3]:

1. The Saints are both part of the history of the Church and a living reality within and of the Church, here and now—the Communion of Saints. They are, put simply, family.

2. In their earthly pilgrimages, the Saints lived for and pointed to the reality of the Church Triumphant; they were animated by God’s love and grace and, as Benedict XVI states in today’s audience, their ultimate goal was Trinitarian union. Now, in heaven, they continue this work of pointing us toward that glorious goal.

3. By studying the lives and words of the Saints, we see that they were individuals with distinct personalities and gifts who are not only sources of encouragement to us here and now, but are brothers and sisters who desire that we too acheive eternal, blessed union with God. We can take comfort in knowing that they were real, flesh-and-blood men and woman who sinned and struggled—and yet acheived holiness through their abandonment to God.

4. The Saints did not see the Church, doctrine, Magisterial authority, and the moral law as impediments or obstacles to spiritual growth in Christ, but as necessary and blessed gifts oriented to such growth. Whatever struggles each might have faced, they loved the Church because they understood that she is the bride of Christ and the household of God—not a merely human construct to be assaulted and undermined because of personal biases or ideological agendas.

5. Each and every one of us is called to be a saint, to be perfect, to be filled with the divine life of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the words of the Pope: “Be holy! Be saints!”

Have you begun the marvelous path to sanctity and holiness?

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