VATICAN CITY (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI asked the whole Church to draw inspiration from the jubilee year dedicated to St Paul and to imitate the apostle’s courageous missionary efforts.
St Paul demonstrated that with firm faith “we can overcome every form of fear”, the Pope said at a Sunday blessing on June 22.
The Pope officially was to open the Pauline year at a prayer service June 28 in the Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls in Rome, where the saint’s tomb is located.
At his Sunday blessing, the Pope spoke about the role of faith in conquering fear. He cited an episode from a difficult period in the evangelising efforts of St Paul, when God appeared in a vision and told him: “Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you.”
In fact, St Paul continued to preach with courage, suffering martyrdom in the end, the Pope said. The Church is now preparing to celebrate the 2000th year of his birth with the jubilee year, he said.
“May this great spiritual and pastoral event stimulate in us a renewed faith in Jesus Christ, who calls us to announce and witness his Gospel without any fear,” he said.
The Pope said fear takes many forms in life, including childish fears that disappear with maturity and real fears that need to be overcome through effort.
There are also deeper existential fears that can provoke anguish, he said.
“This comes from a sense of emptiness, and is tied to a certain kind of culture that is permeated by widespread theoretical and practical nihilism,” he said.
This type of fear is prevalent where people think they can do without God, and believe that they can control life and death, or good and evil, he said.