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Never let go of believing in God, says Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI speaks during the general audience in Paul VI hall at the Vatican yesterday (CNS photo/Paul Haring)

In times of trouble, doubt or deep spiritual crisis never let go of believing in God because he will help lead people out of darkness, Pope Benedict XVI has said.

“Let us always be led by God, carry out his will every day even if often it doesn’t correspond to our plans, and trust in his providence that he never leaves us on our own,” he said during his weekly general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall on December 29 (full text).

In his catechesis, the Pope described the life of St Catherine of Bologna, an abbess of the Poor Clares and “a woman of great wisdom and culture” who lived in the 15th century.

Despite the many centuries that separate her time and today, St Catherine still speaks to modern men and women, said the Pope.

“Like us, she suffered from many temptations – the temptations of disbelief and sensuality, she suffered from a difficult spiritual battle, she felt abandoned by God and she found herself in the darkness” of doubting her faith, he said.

However, throughout all of her struggles, St Catherine “always held on to the Lord’s hand,” he said.

Because she never let go of trusting in God’s will and let herself always be guided by him, “she went along the right path and found the road leading to the light,” he said.

“In this way, she is also telling us ‘Have courage’ even when struggling with one’s faith or when feeling doubt” or uncertainty, he added.

“Don’t let go of the Lord’s hand, believe in God’s goodness and that way we will go along the right road,” said the pope.

St Catherine of Bologna wrote the Treatise on the Seven Spiritual Weapons in which she describes “the many graces she received and lists the most effective means of resisting the temptations of the Devil,” he said.

The Pope said her treatise showed how to fight temptations and deceptions, which cause doubt and uncertainty about one’s faith and vocation; her writing represents “a beautiful spiritual program for every one of us even today.”

The Pope listed the seven spiritual weapons as follows:

– Take great care to always work for the good.

– Know that nothing truly good can ever be done by oneself.

– Trust in God and never be afraid of the battle against evil either in the world or inside oneself.

– Reflect often on the words and life of Jesus, especially on his Passion and death.

– Remember that everyone must die.

– Keep firmly in mind the rewards of paradise.

– Be familiar with Sacred Scripture so that it can guide all thoughts and actions.

The Pope praised the way St Catherine led a life of humility and obedience to God.

“She saw all disobedience as a sign of that spiritual pride which destroys all virtue,” he said.

Her humility showed she preferred a life of service over power.

“She wanted to serve, carry out God’s will, be at the service of others and for that reason she was credible” in her position of authority, said the Pope.

“You could see that, for her, authority was serving others,” he said.