And here is the text of his address, and here is a link to accessing other reports/documents. Enjoy!
Following in the footsteps of my blessed predecessor Pope John Paul II, it is a great joy for me to visit for the second time this dear continent of Africa, coming among you, in Benin, to address to you a message of hope and of peace. I would like first of all to express my cordial gratitude to Archbishop Antoine Ganyé Cotonou, for his words of welcome and to greet the Bishops of Benin, as well as the Cardinals and Bishops from various African countries and from other continents. To all of you, dear brothers and sisters, who have come to this Mass celebrated by the Successor of Peter, I offer my warm greetings. I am thinking certainly of the faithful of Benin, but also of those from other French-speaking countries, such as Togo, Burkina Faso, Niger and others. Our Eucharistic celebration on the Solemnity of Christ the King is an occasion to give thank to God for the one hundred and fifty years that have passed since the beginnings of the evangelization of Benin; it is also an occasion to express our gratitude to him for the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of African Bishops which was held in Rome a few months ago.
The Gospel which we have just heard tells us that Jesus, the Son of Man, the ultimate judge of our lives, wished to appear as one who hungers and thirsts, as a stranger, as one of those who are naked, sick or imprisoned, ultimately, of those who suffer or are outcast; how we treat them will be taken as the way we treat Jesus himself. We do not see here a simple literary device, or a simple metaphor. Jesus’s entire existence is an example of it. He, the Son of God, became man, he shared our existence, even down to the smallest details, he became the servant of the least of his brothers and sisters. He who had nowhere to lay his head, was condemned to death on a cross. This is the King we celebrate!
Without a doubt this can appear a little disconcerting to us. Today, like two thousand years ago, accustomed to seeing the signs of royalty in success, power, money and ability, we find it hard to accept such a king, a king who makes himself the servant of the little ones, of the most humble, a king whose throne is a cross. And yet, the Scriptures tell us, in this is the glory of Christ revealed; it is in the humility of his earthly existence that he finds his power to judge the world. For him, to reign is to serve! And what he asks of us is to follow him along the way, to serve, to be attentive to the cry of the poor, the weak, the outcast. The baptized know that the decision to follow Christ can entail great sacrifices, at times even the sacrifice of one’s life. However, as Saint Paul reminds us, Christ has overcome death and he brings us with him in his resurrection. He introduces us to a new world, a world of freedom and joy. Today, so much still binds us to the world of the past, so many fears hold us prisoners and prevent us from living in freedom and happiness. Let us allow Christ to free us from the world of the past! Our faith in him, which frees us from all our fears and miseries, gives us access to a new world, a world where justice and truth are not a byword, a world of interior freedom and of peace with ourselves, with our neighbours and with God. This is the gift God gave us at our baptism!
“Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (Mt 25:34). Let us receive this word of blessing which the Son of Man will, on the Day of Judgement, address to those who have recognized his presence in the lowliest of their brethren, with a heart free and full of the love of the Lord! Brothers and sisters, the words of the Gospel are truly words of hope, because the King of the universe has drawn near to us, the servant of the least and lowliest. Here I would like to greet with affection all those persons who are suffering, those who are sick, those affected by AIDS or by other illnesses, to all those forgotten by society. Have courage! The Pope is close to you in his thoughts and prayers. Have courage! Jesus wanted to identify himself with the poor, with the sick; he wanted to share your suffering and to see you as his brothers and sisters, to free you from every affliction, from all suffering. Every sick person, every poor person deserves our respect and our love because, through them, God shows us the way to heaven.
This morning, I invite you once again to rejoice with me. One hundred and fifty years ago the cross of Christ was raised in your country, and the Gospel was proclaimed for the first time. Today, we give thanks to God for the work accomplished by the missionaries, by the “apostolic workers” who first came from among you or from distant lands, bishops, priests, men and women religious, catechists, all those who, both yesterday and today, enabled the growth of the faith in Jesus Christ on the African continent. I honour here the memory of the venerable Cardinal Bernardin Gantin, an example of faith and of wisdom for Benin and for the entire African continent.
Dear brothers and sisters, everyone who has received this marvellous gift of faith, this gift of an encounter with the risen Lord, feels in turn the need to proclaim it to others. The Church exists to proclaim this Good News! And this duty is always urgent! After 150 years, many are those who have not heard the message of salvation in Christ! Many, too, are those who are hesitant to open their hearts to the word of God! Many are those whose faith is weak, whose way of thinking, habits and lifestyle do not know the reality of the Gospel, and who think that seeking selfish satisfaction, easy gain or power is the ultimate goal of human life. With enthusiasm, be ardent witnesses of the faith which you have received! Make the loving face of the Saviour shine in every place, in particular before the young, who search for reasons to live and hope in a difficult world!
The Church in Benin has received much from her missionaries: she must in turn carry this message of hope to people who do not know or who no longer know the Lord Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to be concerned for evangelization in your country, and among the peoples of your continent and the whole world. The recent Synod of Bishops for Africa stated this in no uncertain terms: the man of hope, the Christian, cannot be uninterested in his brothers and sisters. This would be completely opposed to the example of Jesus. The Christian is a tireless builder of communion, peace and solidarity – gifts which Jesus himself has given us. By being faithful to him, we will cooperate in the realization of God’s plan of salvation for humanity.
Dear brothers and sisters, I urge you, therefore, to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ, to be authentically converted to him. He alone gives us the true life and can liberate us for all our fears and sluggishness, from all our anguish. Rediscover the roots of your existence in the baptism which you received and which makes you children of God! May Jesus Christ give you strength to live as Christians and to find ways to transmit generously to new generations what you have received from your fathers in faith!
On this feast day, we rejoice together in the reign of Christ the King over the whole world. He is the one who removes all that hinders reconciliation, justice and peace. We are reminded that true royalty does not consist in a show of power, but in the humility of service; not in the oppression of the weak, but in the ability to protect them and to lead them to life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10). Christ reigns from the Cross and, with his arms open wide, he embraces all the peoples of the world and draws them into unity. Through the Cross, he breaks down the walls of division, he reconciles us with each other and with the Father. We pray today for the people of Africa, that all may be able to live in justice, peace and the joy of the Kingdom of God (cf. Rom 14:17). With these sentiments I affectionately greet all the English-speaking faithful who have come from Ghana and Nigeria and neighbouring countries. May God bless all of you!
From the proper first lesson of the Mass:
My son, from your youth embrace discipline;
thus will you find wisdom with graying hair.
As though plowing and sowing, draw close to her;
then await her bountiful crops.
For in cultivating her you will labor but little,
and soon you will eat of her fruits.
How irksome she is to the unruly!
The fool cannot abide her.
If you are willing to listen, you will learn;
if you give heed, you will be wise.
Frequent the company of the elders;
whoever is wise, stay close to him.
Be eager to hear every godly discourse;
let no wise saying escape you.
If you see a man of prudence, seek him out;
let your feet wear away his doorstep!
Reflect on the precepts of the Lord,
let his commandments be your constant meditation;
Then he will enlighten your mind,
and the wisdom you desire he will grant. (Sirach 6.18-21, 33-37)
From Our Holy Father’s Audience in honor of St. Albert (24 March 2010):
He was born in Germany at the beginning of the 13th century. When he was still young he went to Italy, to Padua, the seat of one of the most famous medieval universities. He devoted himself to the study of the so-called “liberal arts”: grammar, rhetoric, dialectics, arithmetic, geometry, astronomy and music, that is, to culture in general, demonstrating that characteristic interest in the natural sciences which was soon to become the favourite field for his specialization.
During his stay in Padua he attended the Church of the Dominicans, whom he then joined with the profession of the religious vows. Hagiographic sources suggest that Albert came to this decision gradually. His intense relationship with God, the Dominican Friars’ example of holiness, hearing the sermons of Blessed Jordan of Saxony, St Dominic’s successor at the Master General of the Order of Preachers, were the decisive factors that helped him to overcome every doubt and even to surmount his family’s resistence. God often speaks to us in the years of our youth and points out to us the project of our life. As it was for Albert, so also for all of us, personal prayer, nourished by the Lord’s word, frequent reception of the Sacraments and the spiritual guidance of enlightened people are the means to discover and follow God’s voice.
In either hand the hastening Angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappeared.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces thronged, and fiery arms.
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon:
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide.
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
Thus concludes Milton’s great epic poem, Paradise Lost.
But today, our lessons and feast sing of paradise regained.
The Temple that the visionary prophet Ezekiel saw is the Church, the heavenly Jerusalem, of which we are members. The water flows down, southward, because Zion is a city set on a hill … but its nourishing water bears East, whence we were banished. And now, for all those renewed in the temple’s baptismal water, fruit trees of every kind grow – the Church’s sacraments of faith, and her members’ works of charity: food and medicine for ourselves and the world.
Paradise is regained because the body of Jesus Christ was raised from the dead. His Cross is our Tree of Life, and from his side flow water and blood: Blood for the Temple sacrifice that ended all sacrifices; Water for the river of life that even now extends to us the garden of paradise.
Rightly St. Paul proclaims, Christ alone is the foundation. He is the vine, whose flower forevermore blooms, and we are the branches, the Temple of God. Anyone who would trample through the garden, or corrupt but one of its flowers, will be destroyed by God, says the Apostle. Thus, in anticipation of this Final Judgment, Christ drives out of the Temple all those who would make God’s garden less than a thing of beauty, all those who would make a flower less than an act of heavenly worship. He purifies the Temple and waters the garden, giving us paradise.
Milton’s contemporary, George Herbert, sings with greater glory:
And now in age I bud again,
After so many deaths I live and write;
I once more smell the dew and rain,
And relish versing: O my only light,
It cannot be
That I am he
On whom thy tempests fell all night.
These are thy wonders, Lord of love,
To make us see we are but flowers that glide:
Which when we once can find and prove,
Thou hast a garden for us, where to bide.
Ours is not a solitary but humble way, that of a little flower, but lived in company with all the angels and saints, because in communion with Christ’s personal vicar on earth, the foundation stone’s own rock, the Pontifex Maximus, the great bridge builder between heaven and earth, the servant of servants in the Church’s worship of God. The Anglican poet priest Herbert did not see the ecclesial irony in his poem’s conclusion, posed to the eponymous “flower,” challenging: “Who would be more, swelling through store, / Forfeit their Paradise by pride.” But these chilling last lines on this shivering day encourage us to consider the tranquil warmth of the poet’s… and of the Creator’s beginning:
How Fresh, O Lord, how sweet and clean
Are thy returns! Ev’n as the flowers in spring;
To which, besides their own demean,
The late-past frosts tributes of pleasure bring.
Grief melts away
like snow in May,
As if there were no such cold thing.
[Reposted from last year]
You definitely want to check this out!
A plenary [i.e., full] indulgence, applicable only to the souls in purgatory, is granted to the faithful who:
-on any and each day from November 1 to 8, devoutly visit a cemetery and pray, even if only mentally, for the departed;
-on All Souls’ Day [i.e., today] devoutly visit a church or an oratory and recite an Our Father and the Creed.
Of course, in being able to obtain in love either of these indulgences for your loved ones, the normal conditions are in order: in addition to excluding all attachment to sin, even venial sin [which we might generously interpret as meaning at the time of obtaining the indulgence], it is necessary to have a recent Sacramental confession (before or after), to receive Holy Communion on the day of, and prayer for the intention of the Pope.
God bless you and your loved ones. Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord, and let perpetual Light shine upon them. Amen.