MATILDA OF HACKEBORN: LITURGY AND SPIRITUALITY VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2010 (VIS REPORT) - St. Matilda of Hackeborn (1241/1242 - 1298), one of the outstanding figures of the German convent of Helfta, was the subject of the Holy Father's catechesis during his general audience, which took place this morning in St. Peter's Square. Matilda was daughter of the barons of Hackeborn. At an early age she entered the convent of Helfta where her sister, St. Gertrude, was abbess for forty years. Gertrude gave "a particular imprint to the spirituality of the convent, causing it to flourish as a centre of mysticism and culture, a place of scientific and theological education". The nuns of Helfta enjoyed "a high level of intellectual learning which enabled them to cultivate a spirituality founded on Sacred Scripture, the liturgy and patristic tradition, and on the Rule and spirituality of the Cistercians". The main source for Matilda's life is a book written by her sister and entitled "The Book of Special Grace", in which she is described as possessing exalted natural and spiritual qualities such as "science, intelligence, knowledge of human literature, and a voice of great beauty". While still very young Matilda became the head of the convent school of Helfta, and later director of the choir and mistress of novices. She also possessed "the divine gift of mystic contemplation" and was "a teacher of faithful doctrine and great humility, a counsellor, a consoler and a guide in discernment". For this reason "many people, within the convent but also from elsewhere, ... testified that this holy virgin had freed them from their sufferings and that they had never known such consolation as they had with her", said Benedict XVI. "During her long life in the convent, Matilda was afflicted by continuous and intense suffering, to which she added her own great penance for the conversion of sinners. In this way she shared in the Lord's passion until the end of her life. "Prayer and contemplation", the Pope added. "were the vital 'humus' of her life. It was there that her revelations, her teachings, her service to others, and her journey in faith and love had their roots and their context. ... Of the liturgical prayers, Matilda gave particular emphasis to the canonical hours, and to the celebration of Mass especially Holy Communion. ... Her visions, her teachings, and the events of her life are described with expressions evocative of liturgical and biblical language. Thus do we come to appreciate her profound knowledge of Sacred Scripture, which was her daily bread". This saint, "allowing herself to be guided by Sacred Scripture and nourished by the Eucharistic bread, followed a path of intimate union with the Lord, always maintaining complete fidelity to the Christ. For us too, this is a powerful call to intensify our friendship with the Lord, especially through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in Mass. The liturgy is a great school of spirituality", the Pope concluded.AG/ VIS 20100929 (500)
PRAYERS FOR NIGERIA AND HAITI, BEGINNING OF MARIAN MONTH VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2010 (VIS) - At the end of today's general audience, the Pope mentioned "the grave humanitarian crisis which has recently struck northern Nigeria, where some two million people have been forced to flee their homes because of severe flooding. To all those affected I express my spiritual closeness and I assure them of my prayers", he said. He then addressed some remarks to a group of pilgrims from Haiti assuring them of his continuing "prayers to God to bring Haitians relief in their misery". Noting then that Friday marks the beginning of the Marian month of October, he encouraged the faithful "to learn from the Virgin of Nazareth always to be ready to fulfil the will of God".AG/ VIS 20100929 (140)
THEME FOR WORLD DAY OF SOCIAL COMMUNICATIONS VATICAN CITY, 29 SEP 2010 (VIS) - Made public today was the theme chosen by the Pope for the forty-fifth World Day of Social Communications: "Truth, proclamation and authenticity of life in the digital age". His Message for the Day will be published on 24 January 2011, feast of St. Francis of Sales, patron of journalists. An English-language note released by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications explains that the theme is "to be understood as focusing on the human person who is at the heart of all communicative processes. Even in an age that is largely dominated, and at times conditioned, by new technologies, the value of personal witness remains essential. "To approach the truth and to take on the task of sharing it", the note adds, "requires the 'guarantee' of an authenticity of life from those who work in the media, and especially from Catholic journalists; an authenticity of life that is no less required in a digital age. "Technology, on its own, cannot establish or enhance a communicator's credibility, nor can it serve as a source of the values which guide communication. The truth must remain the firm and unchanging point of reference of new media and the digital world, opening up new horizons of information and knowledge. Ideally, it is the pursuit of truth which constitutes the fundamental objective of all those who work in the media".