Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "We are all in danger of living as if God did not exist, but God has a thousand ways, for each one of us he has his own way to make his presence felt in our soul, to show us that he knows us and loves us and wants us to be attentive to those signs with which God touches us", this is what Blessed Angela of Foligno shows us. On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI, dedicated his catechesis to the mystic of the thirteenth century, a late convert to the faith who knew "the heights of experience of union with God", the latest in s series of lessons illustrating the great female figures of the medieval Church.
To 40 thousand people in St. Peter's Square, the Pope said that "usually people are fascinated by the heights of her experience of union with God, but few consider just the first part of life." Angela was born in 1248 into a wealthy family in Foligno. Introduced in worldly circles, she met a man whom she married when she was 20 years old and had children. At that time her life was “certainly not that of a fervent disciple of the Lord", so much so she despised so-called penitents, as were called those who out of devotion "sold their possessions and lived in prayer, fasting, charity and service to the Church".
Some events of 1279, such as a violent earthquake, a hurricane, war with Perugia and its dire consequences affect the life of Angela, who "becomes aware of her sins." The decisive moment came: in 1285 she invoked St Francis who appears and urges her to a general confession. Three years later, there is also the "dissolution of emotional ties," her mother died followed a few months later by her husband and all her children". Angela sold all her possessions and joined the Franciscan Third Order. She died in 1309.
"Conversion, penance, humility and tribulations" are collected by her brother confessor in the "Book" in which "Angela’s difficulty in expressing her mystical experience is met with the difficulty of her listeners in understanding her." "This situation clearly shows how the one true Master, Jesus lives in the heart of every believer and wants to take full ownership of it."
It is a journey of conversion that takes the path of Angela’s fear of hell. "This fear of hell responds to the kind of faith that Angela had at the time of her conversion, a faith still lacking in charity, that love of God. Repentance, fear of hell, repentance open to Angela the prospect of painful way of the cross, from the eighth to the fifteenth station, it will then bring her to the path of love”.
Angela "feels she must give something to God to repair for her sins, but slowly realizes that she had nothing to give, moreover of being nothing before him, she understands that it is not her will that will give her the love of God, because this can only give her nothing, 'non love'. " "As she says: the only true and pure love that comes from God, is in the soul and it makes us recognize our faults and divine goodness”.
"However, Angela's heart always carries the wounds of sin, even after a good confession, she was forgiven and still distraught from sin, free and conditioned by the past, absolved but in need of repentance. The thoughts of hell also accompany her because the more the soul advances on the path of Christian perfection, the more it is convinced of not only of being unworthy, but of being worthy of hell". Eventually, Angela understands what is the central reality. "What will save her from her unworthiness and being deserving of hell is not her union with God and his truth, but Jesus crucified, He was crucified for me, his love."
The passage from the mystical experience of conversion, "from what can be expressed to what can not be expressed, occurs through the Crucified." All her experience is "to tend to a perfect likeness to him, through purification and ever more profound and radical transformations. In this wonderful enterprise Angela puts her whole self, body and soul, without sparing herself in penance and tribulations from beginning to end, wanting to die with all the pains suffered by the crucified God-man to be transformed completely in Him”.
From conversion to mystical union with Christ crucified. An elevated path- explained the Pope - the secret of which is constant prayer: "The more you pray - she says – the more you will be enlightened, the more you are enlightened, the more deeply and intensely you will see the Supreme Good, the supremely good Being, the more deeply and intensely you see Him, the more you love Him, the more you love Him, the more you delight, and the more you delight, the more you will understand and become more able to understand Him it. Then you will come to the fullness of light, you will understand that you can not understand”.
"Let us pray - concluded Benedict XVI - that God will make us attentive to the signs of his presence, to teach us to truly live”. The pope, finally, in his greetings in Spanish, prayed for the success of the rescue of the miners in Chile, "I continue to hopefully entrust the miners - he said - to divine goodness."
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