VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2011 (Zenit.org
).- Here is a translation of the catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held in St. Peter's Square. In his Italian-language address, the Pope continued with the catecheses cycle on the doctors of the Church, focusing his reflection on St. Lawrence of Brindisi (1559-1619).
Dear brothers and sisters,
I still remember with joy the festive reception I was given in 2008 in Brindisi, the city that in 1559 witnessed the birth of an illustrious doctor of the Church, St. Lawrence of Brindisi, the name that Giulio Cesare Rossi assumed on entering the Order of Capuchins. From his youth he was attracted to the family of St. Francis of Assisi. In fact, when he lost his father at age 7, he was entrusted by his mother to the care of the Conventual friars of the city. A few years later, however, he moved with his mother to Venice, and precisely in the Veneto he met the Capuchins, who at that time gave themselves generously to the service of the entire Church, to enhance the great spiritual reform promoted by the Council of Trent.
In 1575, Lawrence made his religious profession, becoming a Capuchin friar, and in 1582 he was ordained a priest. Already during his ecclesiastical studies he showed the eminent intellectual qualities with which he was gifted. He easily learned ancient languages, such as Greek, Hebrew and Syriac, and modern ones, such as French and German, which were added to his knowledge of the Italian language and Latin, once spoken fluently by all ecclesiastics and men of culture.
Thanks to his command of so many languages, Lawrence was able to carry out an intense apostolate for various categories of people. An effective preacher, he thoroughly knew not only the Bible but also rabbinical literature, such that rabbis themselves were amazed and admiring, manifesting to him their esteem and respect. A theologian versed in sacred Scripture and the fathers of the Church, he was also able to illustrate in an exemplary way the Catholic doctrine to Christians who, above all in Germany, had followed the Reformation. With his clear and quiet exposition he showed the biblical and patristic foundation of all the articles of the faith called into question by Martin Luther. Among these, the primacy of St. Peter and his Successors, the divine origin of the episcopate, justification as man's interior transformation, the need of good works for salvation. The success that Lawrence enjoyed helps us to understand that also today, in carrying forward ecumenical dialogue with so much hope, the confrontation with sacred Scripture, read in the Tradition of the Church, is an irreplaceable element of fundamental importance, as I wished to recall in the apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini" (No. 46).
Even the simplest among the faithful, those not gifted with great culture, were benefited by the convincing word of Lawrence, who addressed humble people to call them all back to a coherence of their lives with the faith they professed. This was a great merit of the Capuchins and of other religious orders that in the 16th and 17th centuries contributed to the renewal of Christian life, penetrating society profoundly with their testimony of life and their teaching. Also today the new evangelization needs well-prepared, zealous and courageous apostles, so that the light and beauty of the Gospel will prevail over the cultural orientations of ethical relativism and religious indifference, and transform various ways of thinking and of acting into a genuine Christian humanism. It is amazing that St. Lawrence of Brindisi was able to carry out uninterruptedly his activity as an esteemed and tireless preacher in many cities of Italy and in several countries, despite carrying out other onerous tasks of great responsibility. Within the Order of Capuchins, in fact, he was a professor of theology, master of novices, several times provincial minister and counselor-general, and finally minister-general from 1602 to 1605.
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