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Online Edition: March 2011, Vol. XVII, No. 1

Saint Peter Canisius on Liturgy, Personal Prayer

Saint Peter Canisius (1521-1597), a 16th-century Dutch Jesuit, was the subject of Pope Benedict XVI’s address during the general audience in Paul VI Hall on February 9. This important counter-reformation leader and theologian is a doctor of the Church. Following are excerpts from the Holy Father’s address (Vatican translation):

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The Christocentric spirituality of Saint Peter Canisius is rooted in a profound conviction: no soul anxious for perfection fails to practice prayer daily, mental prayer, an ordinary means that enables the disciple of Jesus to live in intimacy with the divine Teacher.

For this reason in his writings for the spiritual education of the people, our saint insists on the importance of the Liturgy with his comments on the Gospels, on Feasts, on the Rite of Holy Mass and on the sacraments; yet, at the same time, he is careful to show the faithful the need for and beauty of personal daily prayer, which should accompany and permeate participation in the public worship of the Church.

This exhortation and method have kept their value intact, especially after being authoritatively proposed anew by the Second Vatican Council in the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium: Christian life does not develop unless it is nourished by participation in the Liturgy — particularly at Sunday Mass — and by personal daily prayer, by personal contact with God.

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