In a homily bringing the Pauline Year to a close, Pope Benedict encouraged everyone to have the mature faith and courage of St. Paul. Contrary to the shifting ‘winds and currents of the age’, it takes true courage to be faithful to the teachings of the Church.
In his Letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle says that “with Christ we must reach adulthood, mature humanity”. Paul wants Christians to have ‘responsible’ faith, ‘adult’ faith. The phrase ‘adult faith’ has become a common slogan over recent decades. It is often understood as the attitude of those who no longer listen to the Church and her pastors, but autonomously choose what they wish to believe and not to believe: a sort of ‘do-it- yourself’ faith. This is also presented as the ‘courage’ to go against the Magisterium of the Church. The truth, however, is that it requires no courage because one is always certain of garnering public sympathy.
What does require courage is to adhere to the faith of the Church even if this contradicts the blueprint of the modern world. It is the ‘non-conformity’ of faith that Paul calls ‘adult faith’. What he considers childlike is to charge after all the winds and currents of the age.
Part of adult faith, for example, is commitment to the inviolability of human life from the very first moment, thus radically opposing the principle of violence by defending the most helpless human creatures. Part of adult faith is recognizing lifelong marriage between a man and a woman, as ordained by God and re-established by Christ. Adult faith does not allow itself to be blown here and there by the slightest breeze.
Last evening Pope Benedict celebrated First Vespers for the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, winding down the Pauline Year. Excavations begun in 2002 to make the sarcophagus of St. Paul “accessible” (pictured above) to pilgrims have produced some interesting scientific discoveries.
“An authentic scientific analysis” conducted on the sarcophagus conserved in the basilica, the Holy Father said, “seems to confirm the unanimous and uncontested tradition that these are the mortal remains of the Apostle Paul.”
“A tiny hole was drilled into the sarcophagus — which over many centuries had never been opened — in order to insert a special probe, which revealed traces of costly purple colored linen fabric, laminated with pure gold and a blue fabric with linen filaments,” Benedict XVI explained.
“Grains of red incense and protein and chalk substances were also discovered,” he continued. “There were also tiny bone fragments, which were sent for carbon-14 testing by experts who were unaware of their origin. These were discovered to belong to a person who had lived between the first and second centuries.”
Reported here and here.
Also announced the previous day was the following: on the 19th it was reported that Vatican archaeologists using laser technology have discovered what they believe is the oldest image in existence of , dating from the late 4th century, on the walls of the catacomb of St. Tecla, near the basilica.