Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Reflection on Pope Benedict's Teaching

UPDATE: Monsignor Tommaso Stenico has been suspended. Links here

~from Mons. Tommaso Stenico via Papa Ratzinger Forum

- I don't hide it. I am fascinated by the Magisterium of Benedict XVI. The Pope's ministry of the Word is followed word for word, from beginning to end, by his audiences, with an attention that amazes the experts.

All you have to do is be among the congregation that participates during a Mass celebrated by the Pope. His style is always moderate, but in touch with his congregation. And its symbolic expressivity comes totally from the liturgy, which he celebrates with great authority.

Beyond the masses and the catecheses, Benedict XVI always projects humility.

"The Pope should not proclaim his own ideas but he must always link himself to the Church in obedience to the Word of God," he said when he took possession of the Basilica of St. John Lateran in May 2005. He has kept to this criterion even in his public actions.

He wants the faithful to focus on the essential, not his person, but Jesus Christ who is living and present in the Sacraments of the Church.

Personally, I felt myself touched anew in my heart and mind by his poetic invocation during the liturgy of consecrating new bishops last Sept. 29, inviting them to be "angels of their Church to talk to men about God, to orient them towards God."

One can easily conclude from a rapid bird's-eye's view of the two-plus years of this beloved Pope's magisterium that he has done nothing but speak to men about God.

Inasmuch as when you are in the grip of something, you follow it through seriously, this led me to meditating, asking myself, among other things, why is there very little talking about God in the Church today? Talking about God to men, as the Pope does?

It may sound paradoxical, but I think it is the fundamental problem of the Church at the start of the third millennium. To reduce it to a slogan, which may be too harsh, one might say the Church has stopped talking about God, and because of that, it has become less interesting to many.

Of course, it defends human rights, life and death in accordance with God's plan, human dignity, but has not learned - and this is the tragic problem for evangelization and catechetical efforts - to find its place in a world which is more and more indifferent to the God which the Church has the mission to proclaim.

The non-confessional society promoted by the majority of European governments today has deliberately placed the Church out of play, so that now the Church seems to be striving mightily to recover the space which it, until not too long ago, it was acknowledged to have.

This situation has forced the Church to adopt a strategy that straddles between defending itself against secular attack and demonstrating how its practices differ from secular practice.

...The great 'absence' from the Church's institutional message today is God himself. And this is not simply a slogan or a statement fort effect. We are becoming` specialists of everything and in everything, but we do not speak directly about God.

I mean to say, why don't we let go, for the moment, of so-called 'burning' issues of the day, and start talking instead about God's paternal love for all of mankind. If only because many concrete actions in life have sense and meaning only if they are done as a response to the love of God.

Every moral action has sense only if it is done out of love for God. But one cannot teach ethical and moral principles without first having spoken about God who is the ultimate end of our life and our moral conduct.

How can I love someone I do not know? Who do I live for, as a Christian? Why should I observe the commandments of God if first I am not told that I was created to know, love and to serve God in this life in order to enjoy eternal life with him?

Tell me about God and what is pleasing to him so I may do the things that are pleasing to him. That is the mission and obligation of Mother Church: to fill up the contemporary void by a message that helps man to encounter God.

Of course it is not easy. But I recall the passage in the Acts of the Apostles when the Ethiopian tells Paul: "How can I understand what I read if no one instructs me?" (cf Acts 8,31).

Hence the crucial question today: Where are the bishops, masters of prayer and men of God, masters of the Word and sanctifiers of the people entrusted to them? Where are the priests who make their ministry a true ministry of the Word in continuity with the sacrifice of the Cross? Where are the faithful who bear proud witness of their faith in God with words and actions?

Pope Benedict, speaking to the priests of Poland, did not hesitate to state clearly: "From their priests, the faithful expect only one thing: that they are specialists in promoting the encounter of man with God. They do not ask the priest to be an expert in economics, in politics, in construction. They expect the priest to be an expert in the spiritual life."

The more a pastor is free, the more freely he can speak about God without constraints, the better he will be able to share his experience of his encounter with the God of life and mercy. It doesn't matter that, like all of us, he too knows the burdens of sin and limitations. The important thing is to be able to get up every time, after every fall or failing, to sing the glory and the mercy of God.

Without God, the world drifts towards an empty abyss. Pope Benedict recently said, "We need God - because a life without God is a life without direction."

3 comments:

andrea said...

Dear Argent, do you know who Mons. Tommaso Stenico really is? If you understand Italian you can read something about him here:
http://www.repubblica.it/2007/10/sezioni/cronaca/monsignore-gay/monsignore-gay/monsignore-gay.html

If you don't trust this newspaper, you can read Petrus:

http://www.papanews.it/

Anonymous said...

Hey, Do you actually believe this press release by the Vatican. Any clues here as to why they might like to frame this priest? Duh.

Argent said...

Dear Anonymous,

I'm not quite sure what you mean by the Vatican Press Release. This reflection by Msgr. Stenico about Pope Benedict was released prior to the scandal. He brought up issues that are pertinent regardless of his worthiness or unworthiness to speak on the matter.

By "they" do you mean the Curia? Or do you mean the media? Whatever the case may be, the truth needs to come out. If it is, as Msgr Stenico claims, that the Curia is infected by a bunch of homosexuals who are unchaste, then that needs to be addressed. Whether it should be so public a chastisement is another question. In any case, the purification of the Church continues however painful and embarrassing that might be.