I know that many of you followed the news of our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI’s recent trip to his homeland of Germany with great interest. So did I.

I was inspired and challenged by his message — which was not only intended for the people of Germany, but for all of us.

The theme our Holy Father gave to his visit was: “Where God is, there is a future.”

In his addresses and homilies, he repeated that the real problem in our world today is secularization — the many pressures to drive God out of our society and out of our lives.

The pope said we need to know God in order to know who we are and the true meaning of our lives — because the human person is made in the image of God. And he said that our society needs religion — because only through God can we know what is good and true and just. Only through God can we know how to make good laws and to use our freedom to serve justice and peace.

“The conviction that there is a Creator God is what gave rise to the idea of human rights, the idea of the equality of all people before the law, the recognition of the inviolability of human dignity in every single person and the awareness of people’s responsibility for their actions,” the pope said.

The pope said we need to know God in order to know who we are and the true meaning of our lives — because the human person is made in the image of God.

Again and again in his talks in Germany, the pope came back to the significance of our individual decisions and actions.

He said: “Are they really so small, our failings? Is not the world laid waste through the corruption of the great, but also of the small, who think only of their own advantage? … Could hunger and poverty so devastate parts of the world if love for God and godly love of neighbor — of his creatures, of men and women — were more alive in us? No, evil is no small matter. Were we truly to place God at the center of our lives, it could not be so powerful.”

The Holy Father urged us to a living faith in Jesus Christ and a new commitment to our mission as disciples. “Where God is, there is a future. Indeed — when we allow God’s love to pervade and to shape the whole of our lives, then heaven stands open. Then it is possible so to shape the present that it corresponds more and more to the Good News of our Lord Jesus Christ. Then the little things of everyday life acquire meaning, and great problems find solutions.”

He talked about how “mysterious and wonderful” it is that Christ described himself as the “light of the world” and said to his disciples: “You are the light of the world.” He called us to live that vocation: “Dare to be glowing saints, in whose eyes and hearts the love of Christ beams and who thus bring light to the world.”

Our Holy Father talked a lot about the example of the saints. And he urged us to look to their words and actions as an inspiration for our own lives. But he insisted that we have the right idea about the saints. To be holy, he said, does not mean to be “remote from the world, naive and joyless.”

“There is no saint, apart from the Blessed Virgin Mary, who has not also known sin, who has never fallen,” he said. “Dear friends, Christ is not so much interested in how often in our lives we stumble and fall, as in how often with his help we pick ourselves up again. He does not demand glittering achievements, but he wants his light to shine in you. He does not call you because you are good and perfect, but because he is good and he wants to make you his friends.

“Yes, you are the light of the world because Jesus is your light. You are Christians — not because you do special and extraordinary things, but because he, Christ, is your life, our life. You are holy, we are holy, if we allow his grace to work in us.”

As we pray for one another this week, let us pray for our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI! And, using his words from Germany, let’s ask our Blessed Mother “to inspire us, after the example of the saints, to ensure that in this world, witness to Christ is both seen and heard, that God’s glory is both seen and heard, and that we live accordingly in a world where God is present and where he gives beauty and meaning to life. Amen.”