VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI continued his series of teachings on faith by observing that although secularism is on the rise, everyone has a desire for God, and this can be seen in the experience of love.
“Even in today’s secularized society, this desire for God continues to make itself felt, above all in the experience of love,” he told thousands of pilgrims assembled in St. Peter’s Square for the Nov. 7 general audience.
The Pope quoted St. Augustine’s famous words about hearts remaining restless until they rest in God. And love, he noted, is the way to begin satisfying that longing, which finds its fulfillment in faith in God.
Love by its very nature means encountering another, the Holy Father said, noting that this can be in another person or in God himself.
The essence of love is “seeking the good of the other,” he noted, and by loving we “find ourselves by giving ourselves away.”
Pope Benedict explained that when people go beyond themselves it nurtures their built-in sense of a greater reality beyond them, even beyond fellow human beings.
“Thanks to this innate religious sense, we can open our hearts to the gift of faith which draws us ever closer to God, the source of all good and the fulfillment of our deepest desire,” the Pope said toward the end of his remarks.
Noting that this is the Year of Faith, he invited Catholics to pray for all sincere seekers of the truth, “that they may come to know the joy and freedom born of faith.”
After acknowledging groups of pilgrims from different countries in their native tongues, with huge delegations of flag-waving Poles and Croats enthusiastically responding to his words, the Pope sung the Our Father in Latin.
A group of 34 pilgrims from St. Mary’s Church in Nutley, N.J., lingered a while afterward, holding bags of blessed rosaries, crucifixes and holy medals.
“It’s just truly amazing to be here, even though I only caught some of what the Pope said in English,” said Lily Tremari. “My niece is receiving her confirmation next Tuesday, and I’ll be giving her a crucifix blessed by the Pope.”