Pope praises lives of saints at close of spiritual exercises


The saints are “stars in the firmament of history” who show that great love “sees farther than reason alone,” Pope Benedict XVI said in a reflection on the conclusion of his Lenten spiritual exercises.

The upcoming beatification of John Paul II focused the exercises on the topic of sainthood.

“Such reflection and contemplation on the mystery of Christ, reflected in the existence of its most faithful followers, constitutes a fundamental element that I have inherited from Pope John Paul II and that I continue with full conviction and great joy,” Pope Benedict said in a letter thanking Fr. Francois-Marie Lethel, who guided the March 13-19 exercises.

The Pope said the French Carmelite priest’s discussions of sainthood matched the catechesis of his own Wednesday general audiences. These audiences intended to make the Church “better known and loved as she appears in the lives, the works, and the teachings of the saints.”

At the end of the Lenten exercises, Benedict thanked Fr. Lethel for the “safe guidance and spiritual richness” he showed.

“You have shown us the saints as stars in the firmament of history ... demonstrating that the 'small' saints are 'great' saints,” he continued. “You have shown us that the ‘scientia fidei’ (knowledge of faith) and the ‘scientia amoris’ (knowledge of love) ... complete one another, that reason and great love go together and, even more, that great love sees farther than reason alone.”

The Pope also reflected on his patron St. Joseph, whose feast day coincided with the end of the exercises. The husband of Mary was “a humble saint, a humble worker, who was considered worthy to be the Redeemer’s guardian.”

The Gospel author St. Matthew defined St. Joseph by the single word “just,” the pontiff noted. He was “immersed in God's word” and lived the Law of God not as a “yoke” but as “happiness.”

In this way he was prepared and called to know the Incarnate Word, Jesus.

“This is his mission forever, to guard the Church and our Lord,” Pope Benedict said.

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