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Christianity is not just a matter of moral rules, Pope says at Rome's seminary

February 15, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI delivered an address to students at Rome's pontifical seminary on Friday evening, February 12, emphasizing that "Christianity is not moralism."

Reflecting on the 15th chapter of St. John's Gospel, the Holy Father said that believers must recognize the great gift of God's grace, and allow the mystery of God's presence to "penetrate our minds and our hearts"-- thus learning to abide in God's love. The next step, the Pope continued, is to recognize how God's grace produces results. "It is not we who must produce this great fruit," the Pope said. God's action-- the divine gift-- precedes human action.

Pope Benedict cited the words of Christ to his disciples: "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father." Here, the Pontiff explained, God is done something entirely new: "God has allowed Himself to be seen in the face of Christ."

Unfortunately, the Pope observed, many people today still do not know Christ. He asked his audience to pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, in order to help these people see the face of Christ. In those prayers, the Pope said, it is important to seek not one's own goals but the will of God. Thus, he concluded, prayer involves a "process of slow purification, of liberation from ourselves."


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