Pope prays for disaster victims during reflection on Sacred Heart of Jesus


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Vatican City, Jun 1, 2008 / 11:45 am (CNA).- Pope Benedict XVI today issued a new appeal for aid for the humanitarian and environmental disasters that struck Myanmar and China one month ago, entrusting the two nations in particular, as well as all who are suffering, to Our Lady. His prayers followed a reflection upon the traditional devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

Forty thousand pilgrims flooded St. Peter's Square under the heat of an early June sun to pray the angelus prayer at noon with Pope Benedict.

"I invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin once again for the peoples of China and Myanmar affected by natural disasters, and for those undergoing the many situations of pain, sickness and material and spiritual poverty that mark the path of humanity," the Holy Father said.

Before praying the angelus prayer, Pope Benedict reflected on the meaning of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, celebrated last Friday and throughout the month of June.

Focusing on the spiritual meaning of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Pope Benedict described the Sacred Heart as the "heart of the world" that expands the limits of history.

The Holy Father said the Sacred Heart of Jesus expresses in a simple and real way the "good news" of love, which in itself summarizes the mystery of the incarnation and redemption. Thus it is traditionally a devotion dear to both mystics and theologians.

Pope Benedict said the succession of feasts in the liturgical year from Easter, to Trinity Sunday, to Corpus Christi and, finally, to the solemnity of the Sacred Heart of Jesus is "a movement towards the center: a movement of the spirit that is driven by God Himself."

"From the horizons of the infinity of love, God chose to enter the limits of history and the human condition, He took a body and a heart, so that we can contemplate and meet the infinite in the finite, the invisible and ineffable Mystery in the human Heart of Jesus," Pope Benedict said.

Recalling his first encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which was on the theme of love, Pope Benedict explained that the point of departure was the gaze upon the pierced side of Christ, of which John speaks in his Gospel (cf. John 19). This, he said, is the "center of our faith and the source of the hope in which we are saved, hope that is the subject of the second encyclical."

He continued, "Every person needs a 'center' of their lives, a source of truth and goodness to draw from in approaching the various situations and struggles of everyday life. Every of one of us, when he stops in silence, needs to hear not only the beat of his heart, but in greater depth, the beat of a reliable presence, the perceived meaning of faith and yet much more real: the presence of Christ, the heart of the world."

Pope Benedict added, "I call on everyone to renew in the month of June their devotion to the Heart of Christ, offering the traditional daily prayer and bearing in mind the intentions that I proposed to the whole Church. "

Pope Benedict concluded his reflection on the Sacred Heart with an invocation to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which he said the liturgy also invites us to venerate. He entrusted to her maternal care and intercession the peoples of China and Myanmar affected by natural disasters.

After the angelus prayer, Pope Benedict extended a blessing upon all, and greeted pilgrims in various languages.