Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Church teachings reflect harmony of God's plan, pope says
By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Taken all together, the teachings of the Catholic faith are "a marvelous symphony that sings of God and his love," Pope Benedict XVI said.

In a world where people tend to pick and choose what to believe, what to study and what to specialize in, the church must help people see how all of its teachings about the Trinity, creation, redemption, the sacraments and morality reflect "the harmony of God's plan of salvation," the pope said Dec. 30 at his weekly general audience.

Before expressing his hope that friendship with Jesus would accompany each of his visitors throughout 2010, Pope Benedict delivered another installment in his series of audience talks about Christian theologians and philosophers of the Middle Ages.

Focusing on the work of Peter Lombard, who was born in Italy and died in 1160 as bishop of Paris, the pope emphasized the importance of systematic presentations of the Christian faith. Lombard's famous work, "The Sentences," like the Catechism of the Catholic Church, demonstrates how individual church teachings are linked to one another and must be taken together if one is to have a full understanding of the faith, he said.

Pope Benedict said Peter Lombard is still remembered for providing "the definitive definition" of a sacrament as "an outward sign and cause of grace."The sacraments are not simply rituals or symbols of God's action in people's lives, but "they really have the power to communicate divine grace," the pope said.

"The sacraments are the great treasure of the church," he said. The celebration of the sacraments "is always a surprising event; they touch our lives. Christ, through visible signs, comes to meet us. He purifies us, transforms us and makes us participants in his divine friendship."

Pope Benedict said Peter Lombard raised questions that could interest modern readers, including why God created Eve from the rib of Adam instead of from his head or his feet.

He said the 12th-century theologian explained that God formed woman not as "one who would dominate man, nor one who would be his slave, but one who would be a companion."

The pope encouraged Catholics to read "The Sentences," but even more to study the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is a modern systematic presentation of Christian faith.

- - -Editor's Note: The text of the pope's audience remarks in English will be posted online at: text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at:

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