Live Now : Pope Benedict XVI leaving soon for Castel Gandolfo

Watch live at Vatican Player : http://www.vatican.va/video/

The event will begin on Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 4.45 pm CET (Central European Time or UTC+1), and therefore accordingly here are the times for some areas in the world :

1. PST (Western USA) (UTC-8) :Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 7.25 am

2. EST (Eastern USA) (UTC-5) : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 10.45 am

3. UTC (GMT) : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 3.45 pm

4. WIB (Western Indonesian Time) (UTC+7) : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 10.45 pm

5. SG time (UTC+8) : Thursday, 28 February 2013 at 11.45 pm (also for HK, China, Philippines, and Malaysia)

Pope Benedict XVI’s message at his last General Audience : St. Peter’s Square, Wednesday, 27 February 2013

“Like the Apostle Paul in the Biblical text that we have heard, I feel in my heart that I have to especially thank God who guides and builds up the Church, who plants His Word and thus nourishes the faith in His People. At this moment my heart expands and embraces the whole Church throughout the world and I thank God for the news that, in these years of my Petrine ministry, I have received about the faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and for the love that truly circulates in the Body of the Church, making it to live in the love and the hope that opens us to and guides us towards the fullness of life, towards our heavenly homeland.”

“I feel that I am carrying everyone with me in prayer in this God-given moment when I am collecting every meeting, every trip, every pastoral visit. I am gathering everyone and everything in prayer to entrust it to the Lord: so that we may be filled with the knowledge of His will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding in order to live in a manner worthy of the Lord and His love, bearing fruit in every good work.”

“At this moment I have great confidence because I know, we all know, that the Gospel’s Word of truth is the strength of the Church; it is her life. The Gospel purifies and renews, bearing fruit, wherever the community of believers hears it and welcomes God’s grace in truth and in love. This is my confidence, this is my joy.”

“When, on 19 April almost eight years ago I accepted to take on the Petrine ministry, I had the firm certainty that has always accompanied me: this certainty for the life of the Church from the Word of God. At that moment, as I have already expressed many times, the words that resounded in my heart were: Lord, what do You ask of me? It is a great weight that You are placing on my shoulders but, if You ask it of me, I will cast my nets at your command, confident that You will guide me, even with all my weaknesses. And eight years later I can say that the Lord has guided me. He has been close to me. I have felt His presence every day. It has been a stretch of the Church’s path that has had moments of joy and light, but also difficult moments. I felt like St. Peter and the Apostles in the boat on the Sea of Galilee.”

“The Lord has given us many days of sunshine and light breezes, days when the fishing was plentiful, but also times when the water was rough and the winds against us, just as throughout the whole history of the Church, when the Lord seemed to be sleeping. But I always knew that the Lord is in that boat and I always knew that the boat of the Church is not mine, not ours, but is His. And the Lord will not let it sink. He is the one who steers her, of course also through those He has chosen because that is how He wanted it. This was and is a certainty that nothing can tarnish. And that is why my heart today is filled with gratitude to God, because He never left—the whole Church or me—without His consolation, His light, or His love.”

“We are in the Year of Faith, which I desired precisely in order to strengthen our faith in God in a context that seems to relegate it more and more to the background. I would like to invite everyone to renew their firm trust in the Lord, to entrust ourselves like children to God’s arms, certain that those arms always hold us up and are what allow us to walk forward each day, even when it is a struggle. I would like everyone to feel beloved of that God who gave His Son for us and who has shown us His boundless love. I would like everyone to feel the joy of being Christian. In a beautiful prayer, which can be recited every morning, say: ‘I adore you, my God and I love you with all my heart. Thank you for having created me, for having made me Christian…’ Yes, we are happy for the gift of faith. It is the most precious thing, which no one can take from us! Let us thank the Lord for this every day, with prayer and with a coherent Christian life. God loves us, but awaits us to also love Him!”

“It is not only God who I wish to thank at this time. A pope is not alone in guiding Peter’s barque, even if it is his primary responsibility. I have never felt alone in bearing the joy and the weight of the Petrine ministry. The Lord has placed at my side so many people who, with generosity and love for God and the Church, have helped me and been close to me. First of all, you, dear Brother Cardinals: your wisdom, your advice, and your friendship have been precious to me. My collaborators, starting with my secretary of state who has accompanied me faithfully over the years; the Secretariat of State and the whole of the Roman Curia, as well as all those who, in their various areas, serve the Holy See. There are many faces that are never seen, remaining in obscurity, but precisely in their silence, in their daily dedication in a spirit of faith and humility, they were a sure and reliable support to me.”
 
“A special thought goes to the Church of Rome, my diocese! I cannot forget my Brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood, consecrated persons, and the entire People of God. In my pastoral visits, meetings, audiences, and trips I always felt great care and deep affection, but I have also loved each and every one of you, without exception, with that pastoral love that is the heart of every pastor, especially the Bishop of Rome, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Every day I held each of you in prayer, with a father’s heart.”

“I wish to send my greetings and my thanks to all: a pope’s heart extends to the whole world. And I would like to express my gratitude to the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Holy See, which makes the great family of Nations present here. Here I am also thinking of all those who work for good communication and I thank them for their important service.”

“At this point I would also like to wholeheartedly thank all of the many people around the world who, in recent weeks, have sent me touching tokens of concern, friendship, and prayer. Yes, the Pope is never alone. I feel this again now in such a great way that it touches my heart. The Pope belongs to everyone and many people feel very close to him. It’s true that I receive letters from the world’s notables—from heads of states, from religious leaders, from representatives of the world of culture, etc.”

“But I also receive many letters from ordinary people who write to me simply from their hearts and make me feel their affection, which is born of our being together with Christ Jesus, in the Church. These people do not write to me the way one would write, for example, to a prince or a dignitary that they don’t know. They write to me as brothers and sisters or as sons and daughters, with the sense of a very affectionate family tie. In this you can touch what the Church is—not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian ends, but a living body, a communion of brothers and sisters in the Body of Jesus Christ who unites us all. Experiencing the Church in this way and being able to almost touch with our hands the strength of His truth and His love is a reason for joy at a time when many are speaking of its decline. See how the Church is alive today!”

“In these last months I have felt that my strength had diminished and I asked God earnestly in prayer to enlighten me with His light to make me make the right decision, not for my own good, but for the good of the Church. I have taken this step in full awareness of its seriousness and also its newness, but with a profound peace of mind. Loving the Church also means having the courage to make difficult, agonized choices, always keeping in mind the good of the Church, not of oneself.”

“Allow me here to return once again to 19 April, 2005. The gravity of the decision lay precisely in the fact that, from that moment on, I was always and for always engaged by the Lord. Always—whoever assumes the Petrine ministry no longer has any privacy. He belongs always and entirely to everyone, to the whole Church. His life, so to speak, is totally deprived of its private dimension. I experienced, and I am experiencing it precisely now, that one receives life precisely when they give it. Before I said that many people who love the Lord also love St. Peter’s Successor and are fond of him; that the Pope truly has brothers and sisters, sons and daughters all over the world and that he feels safe in the embrace of their communion; because he no longer belongs to himself but he belongs to all and all belong to him.”

“’Always’ is also ‘forever’–there is no return to private life. My decision to renounce the active exercise of the ministry does not revoke this. I am not returning to private life, to a life of trips, meetings, receptions, conferences, etc. I am not abandoning the cross, but am remaining beside the Crucified Lord in a new way. I no longer bear the power of the office for the governance of the Church, but I remain in the service of prayer, within St. Peter’s paddock, so to speak. St. Benedict, whose name I bear as Pope, will be a great example to me in this. He has shown us the way for a life that, active or passive, belongs wholly to God’s work.”

“I also thank each and every one of you for the respect and understanding with which you have received this important decision. I will continue to accompany the Church’s journey through prayer and reflection, with the dedication to the Lord and His Bride that I have tried to live every day up to now and that I want to always live. I ask you to remember me to God, and above all to pray for the Cardinals who are called to such an important task, and for the new Successor of the Apostle Peter. Many the Lord accompany him with the light and strength of His Spirit.”

“We call upon the maternal intercession of Mary, the Mother of God and of the Church, that she might accompany each of us and the entire ecclesial community. We entrust ourselves to her with deep confidence.”

“Dear friends! God guides His Church, always sustaining her even and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the path of the Church and of the world. In our hearts, in the heart of each one of you, may there always be the joyous certainty that the Lord is beside us, that He does not abandon us, that He is near and embraces us with His love. Thank you.”

Pope Benedict XVI’s last message and farewell to the College of Cardinals, Clementine Hall, Thursday, 28 February 2013

“We could see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit, and truly lives by the power of God, She is in the world but not of the world. She is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit, as we saw yesterday. This is why another eloquent expression of Guardini’s is also true: “The Church is awakening in souls.”

“The Church lives, grows and awakens in those souls which like the Virgin Mary accept and conceive the Word of God by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their flesh and in their own poverty and humility become capable of giving birth to Christ in the world today.”

“Through the Church the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk through all times in all places. Let us remain united, dear brothers, to this mystery, in prayer, especially in daily Eucharist, and thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy that no one can take from us.”

Thursday, 28 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Gospel Reading)

Luke 16 : 19-31

Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen and feasted every day. At his gate lay Lazarus, a poor man covered with sores, who longed to eat just the scraps falling from the rich man’s table. Even dogs used to come and lick his sores. It happened that the poor man died, and angels carried him to take his place with Abraham.

The rich man also died, and was buried. From hell, where he was in torment, the rich man looked up and saw Abraham afar off, and with him Lazarus at rest. He called out, “Father Abraham, have pity on me, and send Lazarus, with the tip of his finger dipped in water, to cool my tongue, for I suffer so much in this fire.”

Abraham replied, “My son, remember that in your lifetime you were well-off, while the lot of Lazarus was misfortune. Now he is in comfort, and you are in agony. But that is not all. Between your place and ours a great chasm has been fixed, so that no one can cross over from here to you, or from your side to us.”

The rich man implored once more, “Then I beg you, Father Abraham, to send Lazarus to my father’s house, where my five brothers live. Let him warn them, so that they may not end up in this place of torment.” Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them listen to them.” But the rich man said, “No, Father Abraham; but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”

Abraham said, “If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced, even if someone rises from the dead.”

Thursday, 28 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (Psalm)

Psalm 1 : 1-2, 3, 4 and 6

Blessed is the one who does not go where the wicked gather, or stand in the way of sinners, or sit where the scoffers sit! Instead, he finds delight in the law of the Lord and meditates day and night on His commandments.

He is like a tree beside a brook producing its fruit in due season, its leaves never withering. Everything he does is a success.

But it is different with the wicked. They are like a chaff driven away by the wind. For the Lord knows the way of the righteous but cuts off the way of the wicked.

Thursday, 28 February 2013 : 2nd Week of Lent (First Reading)

Jeremiah 17 : 5-10

That is what YHVH says, “Cursed is the man who trusts in human beings and depends on a mortal for his life, while his heart is drawn away from YHVH! He is like a bunch of thistles in dry land, in parched desert places, in a salt land where no one lives and who never finds happiness.”

“Blessed is the man who puts his trust in YHVH and whose confidence is in Him! He is like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots towards the stream. He has no fear when the heat comes, his leaves are always green; the year of drought is no problem and he can always bear fruit.”

“Most deceitful is the heart. What is there within man, who can understand him? I, YHVH, search the heart and penetrate the mind. I reward each one according to his ways and the fruit of his deeds.”

Silver Wedding Anniversary (25 years) of my parents : May God bless their marriage and grant them happiness!

Today, Thursday, 28 February 2013, will indeed forever be a memorable day to me. Since, as you all know, that today, is the day when our beloved Pope Benedict XVI will no longer be our Pope as he is stepping down to make way for his successor, whom he thinks will be more capable of handling the duties of the Papacy than him in his old age.

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Indeed, today in fact, will be memorable to me, because it is also the day of the silver wedding anniversary of my parents, who were married on 28 February 1988. Since then, their marriage, although has had its share of troubles, had been mostly happy and filled with grace. I hope that through me, God will always bless my parents.

It has not always been easy for my mother in particular, and for me to an extent, as my mother and my father were not bound by a Christian marriage solemnised with the Sacrament of Marriage, because my father is not yet a Catholic, until the moment I write this post. My mother had been fearful of going to the Church again since her marriage, as she was afraid of what my father would say or act. Thankfully, recently she had been more courageous to go to Church again after my continuous insistence and encouragement. Deo gratias!

Nevertheless, would it not be for my mother, who passed to me her old Catholic Bible when I was young, I may not be here today, and this blog would not have existed. I have to give thanks to her for bringing me up tirelessly despite the problems that I caused her from time to time. I do pray that my whole family will be brought together in Christ soon, that my father will finally be receptive to the Word of God and want to be baptised into the Church.

It has always been my wish that my entire family can one day pray together as one family, and sharing meals together, giving thanks to God for all the blessings He had given me and my family, and for all these 25 years my parents had been together. I cannot thank God enough for that, but that He keeps them safe while I am away overseas, is already great enough a blessing for me.

My mother does have her reservations, especially coming from a rather traditional Chinese family, but indeed gradually she is becoming much more receptive to my calling to be a priest. Mother, if God is willing, and if God calls, it is not for us to reject is it not? For if Mary obediently answer the Lord and gave herself fully to Him, that through her the salvation of this world came, so too even a Pope or Cardinal or bishop would not have been a Pope, Cardinal, or bishop had God not called him first, and had the family not been supportive, especially in prayers.

I do not deny that I do have the desire to be higher in the hierarchy of the Church, as human as I am, but all this is because, I love God’s people, and I want to be able to give myself more to them, to reach out ever more to them, but again, with greater mission, comes greater responsibility. First, is to be a simple priest, what next is for the Lord to decide for me. I am all yours, o Lord.

Therefore, I ask all of you, to pray for me, and my family, that first my parents’ marriage will ever be happy, blessed, and filled with love that is of God. And that God will care for them and bless them as they have blessed me all these while. Pray for me too in my journey, that I will be ever stronger in faith, stronger in love, and stronger in hope, and stronger ever in my dedication to serve God and His people, my brothers and sisters.

That when the time comes, my parents will be the one who will present to me my first chasuble, and hopefully then, my whole family will be able to receive Communion from me, and hence have been united with me in Christ. Pray too for our Church, that in these turbulent times, we will be able to receive a wonderful new Shepherd, filled with God’s Spirit and strength to lead the Church as Pope Benedict XVI had.

We pray for him too that in his prayerful retirement, he will help the Church to become ever holier and ever more powerful in its resolve to fight against evil and all the corruption it has wrought on this world. God bless us all, and God bless my parents and our Pope! Amen!