Before Sunday’s weekly Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI--gathered with a large group at St. Peter’s Square--called the Saints the most privileged witnesses of charity, saying that the history of the Church is “a history of sanctity.”
He praised the Church’s vast body of Saints, saying that they lead faithful to consider the path of consecrated life as a profound “expression and school of charity.”
Following in the footsteps of his predecessor, John Paul II, Benedict also announced that he would preside at the Day of Consecrated Life, which will be celebrated on February 2nd.
Referring first to his new Encyclical, "Deus caritas est," published last Wednesday, the Pope said that the Saints "have all made of their lives, though with a thousand differing shades, a hymn to the God of Love."
Specifically, he recalled those saints whose feast days were recently, or about to be commemorated, and "who are very different from one another.”
He first noted “the Apostle Paul with the disciples Timothy and Titus,” saying that the trio “belong to the very roots of the Church, missionaries of the first evangelization.”
He also recalled “Thomas Aquinas, from the Middle Ages, [who] is the model of a Catholic theologian who found Christ in the supreme synthesis of truth and love; Angela Merici, in the period of the Renaissance, proposed a way of sanctity for those who live in the lay state.”
“In the modern age,” he said, “we have John Bosco who, enflamed by the charity of Jesus the Good Shepherd, cared for disadvantaged children."
"In truth," Benedict continued, "the entire history of the Church is a history of sanctity, animated by the one Love which has its source in God.”
“Indeed,” he said, “only supernatural charity, such as that which flows ever new from the heart of Christ, can explain the prodigious flowering over the centuries of religious orders and institutes both male and female, as well as other forms of consecrated life.”
“These men and women,” he stressed, “whom the Spirit of Christ has formed as models of evangelical devotion, lead us to consider the importance of consecrated life as an expression, and a school, of charity."
On this note, the Holy Father noted that "on February 2, Feast of the Presentation of the Lord, the Church celebrates the Day of Consecrated Life.”
“On that afternoon,” he said, “as John Paul II used to like to do, I will preside at Mass in the Vatican Basilica. ... Together we will give thanks to God for the gift of consecrated life and pray that it may continue in the world as an eloquent sign of His merciful love."
Also mirroring his predecessor, Pope Benedict closed the Angelus, flanked by two young people from the group Catholic Action, and freed two white doves, symbols of peace, from the window of his study.