.- In his weekly general audience, held this morning in a rainy St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI recalled the words of Origen, one of the earliest Fathers of the Church, who reflected that true study of scripture and of Christ himself must begin with an enamoring with him.
During last week’s audience, the Holy Father focused on the life Origen and his literary works, this week turning to the 2nd century theologian’s teachings on prayer and the Church.
Origen, the Pope told the 30,000 people gathered in the square, "constantly intertwines his exegetical and theological works with experiences and suggestions concerning prayer."
For Origen, he stressed, "the understanding of Scripture requires, more even than study, intimacy with Christ and prayer. He is convinced that the best way to know God is love, and that there can be no true 'scientia Christi' without being enamored of Him."
The pope added that "The highest level of knowledge of God flows from love," pointing out that Origen "bases himself upon a meaning sometimes given to the verb 'to know' in Hebrew: when it is used to express the act of human love. ... Just as man and woman are 'two in one flesh,' so God and the believer become 'two in one spirit'."
Pope Benedict also used this morning’s audience to reflect on Origen's teachings on the Church and the "common priesthood" of the faithful.
"Purity and honesty of life," the Holy Father said, as well as "faith and study of the Scriptures are the indispensable conditions for exercising the universal priesthood.”
“Even more so, then,” he added, “are they indispensable for the exercise of the priestly ministry.”
The Pope explained that "These conditions - integrity of life and welcoming and studying the Word - create a true 'hierarchy of sanctity' in the common priesthood of the Christian faithful…Origen places martyrdom at the peak of this journey of perfection.”
He concluded his address saying that “This tireless journey of perfection concerns us all, so long as the gaze of our hearts is turned to contemplation of the Knowledge and the Truth that is Jesus Christ."