Sunday Reflection – 21 July – Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“Christ wished to choose this sacred symbol of human life, which bread is, to make an even more sacred symbol of Himself. He has transubstantitated it but has not taken away its expressive power – rather, He has elevated this expressive power to a new meaning, a higher meaning, a mystical, religious, divine meaning. He has made of it a ladder for an ascent that transcends the natural level. As a sound becomes a voice and as the voice becomes word, thought, truth – so that sign of the bread has passed from its humble and pious being to signify a mystery, it has become a Sacrament, it has acquired the power to demonstrate the Body of Christ present.”
Saint Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
when Archbishop of Milan from a homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi
Thought for the Day – 30 June – Thirteenth Sunday of the Year in Ordinary Time, Year C, Gospel: Luke 9:51–62
We proclaim Christ to the whole world
Saint Paul VI (1897-1978)
Bishop of Rome
An excerpt from one of his homilies
Not to preach the Gospel would be my undoing, for Christ Himself sent me as His apostle and witness. The more remote, the more difficult the assignment, the more my love of God spurs me on. I am bound to proclaim that Jesus is Christ, the Son of the living God. Because of Him we come to know the God we cannot see. He is the firstborn of all creation, in Him all things find their being. Man’s teacher and redeemer, He was born for us, died for us and for us He rose from the dead.
All things, all history converges in Christ. A man of sorrow and hope, He knows us and loves us . As our friend He stays by us throughout our lives, at the end of time He will come to be our judge but, we also know that He will be the complete fulfilment of our lives and our great happiness for all eternity.
I can never cease to speak of Christ for He is our truth and our light; He is the way, the truth and the life. He is our bread, our source of living water who allays our hunger and satisfies our thirst. He is our shepherd, our leader, our ideal, our comforter and our brother.
He is like us but more perfectly human, simple, poor, humble and yet, while burdened with work, He is more patient. He spoke on our behalf, He worked miracles and He founded a new kingdom: in it the poor are happy, peace is the foundation of a life in common, where the pure of heart and those who mourn are uplifted and comforted, the hungry find justice, sinners are forgiven and all discover that they are brothers.
The image I present to you is the image of Jesus Christ. As Christians you share His name, He has already made most of you His own. So once again I repeat His name to you Christians and I proclaim to all men – Jesus Christ is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega, Lord of the new universe, the great hidden key to human history and the part we play in it. He is the mediator—the bridge, if you will—between heaven and earth. Above all He is the Son of man, more perfect than any man, being also the Son of God, eternal and infinite. He is the son of Mary His mother on earth, more blessed than any woman. She is also our mother in the spiritual communion of the mystical body.
Remember: [it] is Jesus Christ I preach day in and day out. His name I would see echo and re-echo for all time even to the ends of the earth.
Yet I live, no longer I but Christ lives in me!
Quote/s of the Day – 29 June – The Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul
“Their sound has gone out into all the earth and their words to the ends of the world”
“There must be general rejoicing, dearly beloved, over this holy company whom God has appointed for our example in patience and for our confirmation in faith. But we must glory even more in the excellence of their fathers, Peter and Paul, whom the grace of God has raised to such a height among all the members of the Church that He has set them like twin lights of eyes in that Body whose head is Christ.”
“Saint Peter does not cease to preside over his See and preserves an endless sharing, with the Sovereign Priest. The firmness that he received from the Rock which is Christ, he himself, having become the Rock, transmits it equally to his successors.”
St Pope Leo the Great (400-461)
Doctor of the Church’s Unity
“And so it is with Rome, where the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, gave with their blood their final witness. The vocation of Rome is of apostolic origin and the ministry which it is our lot to exercise here, is a service for the benefit of the entire Church and of mankind. But it is an irreplaceable service, because it has pleased the Wisdom of God to place the Rome of Peter and Paul, so to speak, on the road that leads to the eternal City, by the fact that Wisdom chose to confide to Peter—who unifies in himself the College of Bishops—the keys of the kingdom of heaven.”
Today is the First Feast Day since his Canonisation, of dearly beloved St Pope Paul VI. So, although a rather belated post for those in the Southern Hemisphere, I simply could not allow this day to go unrecorded.
Saint of the Day – 29 May – St Pope Paul Paul VI (1897-1978), born Giovanni Battista Montini, on 26 September 1897, at Concesio, near Brescia, Italy—died 6 August 1978, at Castel Gandolfo. Priest, Bishop of Rome, Social Reformer. He reigned 1963–1978 during a period including most of the Second Vatican Council (1962–1965) and the immediate postconciliar era, in which he issued directives and guidance to a changing Roman Catholic Church. His pontificate was confronted with the problems and uncertainties of a church facing a new role in the contemporary world. His Mottos were: Cum Ipso in monte (With Him on the mount) and In nomine Domini (In the name of the Lord). Patronages – Archdiocese of Milan and the Ambrosian Rite, Paul VI Pontifical Institute, Second Vatican Council, Diocese of Brescia, Concesio (his birth town), Magenta and Paderno Dugnano.
Early Life And Career
The son of a middle-class lawyer—who was also a journalist and local political figure—and of a mother belonging to the same social background, Montini was in his early years educated mainly at home because of frail health. Later he studied in Brescia. Ordained a priest on 29 May 1920, he was sent by his bishop to Rome for higher studies and was eventually recruited for the Vatican diplomatic service. His first assignment, in May 1923, was to the staff of the Apostolic Nunciature (papal ambassador’s post) in Warsaw but persistent ill health brought him back to Rome before the end of that same year. He then pursued special studies at the Ecclesiastical Academy, the training school for future Vatican diplomats and at the same time resumed work at the Vatican Secretariat of State, where he remained in posts of increasing importance for more than 30 years.
In 1939 Montini was appointed Papal Undersecretary of state and later, in 1944, acting Secretary for Ordinary (or non-diplomatic) affairs. He declined an invitation to be elevated to the Sacred College of Cardinals in 1953. In the beginning of November 1954, Pope Pius XII appointed him Archbishop of Milan and St Pope John XXIII named him a Cardinal in 1958.
He was elected pope on 21 June 1963, choosing to be known as Paul VI.
Vatican II And Paul VI’s Pontificate
The Montini pontificate began in the period following the difficult first session of the Second Vatican Council, in which the new pope had played an important, though not spectacular, part. His lengthy association with university students in the stormy atmosphere of the early days of the fascist regime in Italy, in combination with the generally philosophical bent of his mind—developed by a long-standing habit of extensive and reflective reading—enabled him to bring to the perplexing problems of the times an academic understanding, coupled with the knowledge derived from long years of practical diplomatic experience. Paul VI guided the three remaining sessions of the Second Vatican Council, often developing points he had first espoused as Cardinal Archbishop of Milan. His chief concern was that the Roman Catholic Church in the 20th century should be a faithful witness to the tradition of the past, except when tradition was obviously anachronistic.
Upon the completion of the council (8 December 1965), Paul VI was confronted with the formidable task of implementing its decisions, which affected practically every facet of church life. He approached this task with a sense of the difficulty involved in making changes in centuries-old structures and practices—changes rendered necessary by many rapid transformations in the social, psychological, and political milieu of the 20th century. Paul VI’s approach was consistently one of careful assessment of each concrete situation, with a sharp awareness of the many varied complications that he believed could not be ignored.
This prevalently philosophical attitude was often construed by his critics as timidity, indecision and uncertainty. Nonetheless, many of Paul VI’s decisions in these crucial years called for immense courage. In July 1968 he published his encyclical Humanae vitae (“Of Human Life”), which reaffirmed the stand of several of his predecessors on the long-smouldering controversy over artificial means of birth control, which he opposed. In many sectors this encyclical provoked adverse reactions that may be described as the most violent attacks on the authority of papal teaching in modern times. Similarly, his firm stand on the retention of priestly celibacy (Sacerdotalis caelibatus, June 1967) evoked much harsh criticism. Paul VI later likened the large numbers of priests leaving the ministry to a “crown of thorns.”He also was disturbed by the growing numbers of religious men and women asking for release from vows or who were abandoning out of hand their religious vows.
From the very outset of his years as pope, Paul VI gave clear evidence of the importance he attached to the study and the solution of social problems and to their impact on world peace. Social questions had already been prominent in his far-reaching pastoral program in Milan (1954–63). During those years he had travelled extensively in the Americas and in Africa, centring his attention mainly on concern for workers and for the poor. Such problems dominated his first encyclical letter, Ecclesiam suam (“His Church”), 6 August 1964 and later became the insistent theme of his celebrated Populorum progressio (“Progress of the Peoples”), 26 March 1967. This encyclical was such a pointed plea for social justice that in some conservative circles the pope was accused of Marxism. (- ring any bells folks?)
In an address to the Council Fathers at the end of the first session of the Second Vatican Council, Cardinal Montini formulated a question that may be called the theme of his pastoral service as pontiff: “Church of Christ, what say you of yourself?” In an effort to answer this fundamental question, Paul VI undertook a series of apostolic journeys that were unparalleled occasions for a pope to set foot on every continent. His first journey was a pilgrimage to the Holy Land (January 1964), highlighted by his historic meeting with the Greek Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, in Jerusalem. At the end of that same year, he went to India, becoming the first pope to visit Asia. The following year (4 October 1965), in the first visit by a pope to the United States, he delivered a moving plea for peace at a special session of the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York City and said mass at Yankee Stadium. In 1967 he undertook short visits to Fátima (Portugal) and to Istanbul and Ephesus (Turkey), a journey that had special ecumenical significance – a second meeting with Athenagoras in the patriarch’s own episcopal city (Constantinople). In August 1968 the pope went to Bogotá, Colombia, and he appeared before the International Labour Organisation and the World Council of Churches in Geneva in June 1969. The following month he was in Uganda, East Africa. In the autumn of 1970 he undertook the longest papal journey in modern history up to that time – 10 days spent in visits to Tehrān, Pakistan, the Philippines, Western Samoa (now Samoa), Australia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), each stop bringing Paul VI into personal contact with different peoples of the world of the Universal Catholic Church! His arrival in Manila almost ended in tragedy – within minutes of his descent from the plane, an attempt was made on his life but with no serious injury.
The themes treated by Paul VI on these trips were basically the same – world peace, social justice, world hunger, illiteracy, brotherhood under God and international cooperation.
Social And Ecumenical Interests
On 6 January 1971, in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican, Paul VI conferred the Pope John XXIII Peace Prize on the Albanian-born Mother Teresa, who had spent most of her life in India, where she had founded a special religious congregation of women dedicated to the alleviation of the countless ills of the poorest classes in the country. Paul VI declared on this occasion that the award was intended to centre attention on how even a humble individual without means can further world peace without fanfare, simply by proving in day-to-day action that “every man is my brother.” Here, as in other instances, Paul’s aim was to confront the world at large with the inescapable problems of justice and peace while at the same time proving conclusively that even these apparently insoluble problems can and must be settled with realistic courage and individual perseverance.
Paul VI’s human concern found further expression in his efforts to lessen the long-standing tensions between the church of Rome and other churches and even with those professing no religion at all. He sought out closer understanding with numerous religious leaders throughout the world, both Christian and non-Christian, placing more emphasis on those aspects that unite the churches than on those that divide. To show that mutual acquaintance is at the very foundation of any plans or hopes for unity, Pope Paul met with prominent religious leaders from various communities in Great Britain, the United States and the Soviet Union as well as other countries. Paul VI also set up a special secretariat for nonbelievers, stressing the need of understanding and endeavouring to solve the problems posed by atheism.
Under his guidance the Roman Catholic Church drastically revised its legislation governing marriages between its own members and those who profess other faiths, expressing a firm desire to diminish the threat of human tragedy following possible clashes of individual consciences. For this reason Paul VI’s motu proprio was welcomed and praised for its understanding of human problems and its desire to find a satisfactory solution to the problem of mixed marriages without demanding of either side any renunciation of basic principles of conscience.
In the rise of modern ecumenism, Paul VI saw excellent opportunities to encourage world brotherhood, which, he hoped, might further efforts for human well-being in the pursuit of happiness in unity of faith in God. On 15 May 1971, commemorating the 80th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum novarum on the reform of the social order, Pope Paul issued a forceful apostolic letter, Octogesima adveniens, with particular insistence on the necessity of involvement of all human beings in the solution of the problems of justice and peace.
In 2012 Pope Benedict XVI declared that Paul had lived “a life of heroic virtue.” Two years later he was Beatified by Benedict’s successor, Francis. He was Canonised by Pope Francis on 14 October 2018.
Quote of the Day – 11 May – Saturday Third Week of Easter, C
Jesus Christ You have heard Him spoken of, indeed the greater part of you are already His – you are Christians. So, to you Christians I repeat His name, to everyone I proclaim Him – Jesus Christ is the Beginning and the End, the Alpha and the Omega. He is the King of the new world. He is the Secret of history. He is the Key to our destiny.
Apostolic Exhortation of St Pope Paul VI
Marialis Cultus – 2 February 1974
To Honour Mary
Devotion to the Mother of the Lord becomes for the faithful an opportunity for growing in divine grace and this is the ultimate aim of all pastoral activity. For it is impossible to honour her who is “full of grace” (Lk. 1:28) without thereby honouring, in oneself, the state of grace, which is friendship with God, communion with Him and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is this divine grace which takes possession of the whole man and conforms him to the image of the Son of God (cf. Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18).
The Catholic Church, endowed with centuries of experience, recognises in devotion to the Blessed Virgin a powerful aid for man as he strives for fulfilment. Mary, the New Woman, stands at the side of Christ, the New Man, within whose mystery the mystery of man(124) alone finds true ligh,; she is given to it as a pledge and guarantee that God’s plan in Christ for the salvation of the whole man has already achieved realisation in a creature – in her. Contemplated in the episodes of the Gospels and in the reality which she already possesses in the City of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary offers a calm vision and a reassuring word to modern man, torn as he often is between anguish and hope, defeated by the sense of his own limitations and assailed by limitless aspirations, troubled in his mind and divided in his heart, uncertain before the riddle of death, oppressed by loneliness while yearning for fellowship, a prey to boredom and disgust. She shows forth the victory of hope over anguish, of fellowship over solitude, of peace over anxiety, of joy and beauty over boredom and disgust, of eternal visions over earthly ones, of life over death.
Let the very words that she spoke to the servants at the marriage feast of Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (Jn. 2:5), be a seal on our Exhortation and a further reason in favour of the pastoral value of devotion to the Blessed Virgin as a means of leading men to Christ. Those words, which at first sight were limited to the desire to remedy an embarrassment at the feast, are seen in the context of Saint John’s Gospel to re-echo the words used by the people of Israel to give approval to the Covenant at Sinai (cf. Ex. 19:8, 24:3, 7; Dt. 5:27) and to renew their commitments (cf. Jos. 24:24; Ezr. 10:12; Neh. 5:12). And they are words which harmonise wonderfully with those spoken by the Father at the theophany on Mount Tabor – “Listen to him” (Mt. 17:5
Second Reading The Little Office of Mary Saturdays ===============
Marian Thoughts – May, the Month of Mary – 3 May 2019
Apostolic Exhortation of St Pope Paul VI (1897-1978)
Marialis Cultus – 2 February 1974
To Honour Mary
The Blessed Virgin’s role as Mother leads the People of God to turn with filial confidence to her who is ever ready to listen with a mother’s affection and efficacious assistance. Thus the People of God have learned to call on her as the Consoler of the afflicted, the Health of the sick and the Refuge of sinners, that they may find comfort in tribulation, relief in sickness and liberating strength in guilt.
For she, who is free from sin, leads her children to combat sin with energy and resoluteness. This liberation from sin and evil (cf. Mt. 6:13)-it must be repeated-is the necessary premise for any renewal of Christian living.
The Blessed Virgin’s exemplary holiness encourages the faithful to “raise their eyes to Mary who shines forth before the whole community of the elect as a model of the virtues.” It is a question of solid, evangelical virtues – faith and the docile acceptance of the Word of God, generous obedience (cf Lk. 1:38), genuine humility (cf. Lk. 1:48), solicitous charity (cf. Lk. 1:39-56), profound wisdom (cf. Lk. 1:29, 34; 2:19, 33:51), worship of God manifested in alacrity in the fulfillment of religious duties (cf. Lk. 2:21-41), in gratitude for gifts received (cf Lk. 1:46-49), in her offering in the Temple (cf. Lk. 2:22-24) and in her prayer in the midst of the apostolic community (cf. Acts 1:12-14), her fortitude in exile (cf. Mt. 2:13-23) and in suffering (cf. Lk. 2:34-35, 49; Jn. 19 25), her poverty reflecting dignity and trust in God (cf. Lk. 1:48, 2:24) her attentive care for her Son, from His humble birth to the ignominy of the cross (cf. Lk. 2:1-7; Jn. 19:25-27), her delicate forethought (cf. Jn. 2:1-11), her virginal purity (cf. Mt. 1:18-25; Lk. 1:26-38), her strong and chaste married love.
These virtues of the Mother will also adorn her children who steadfastly study her example in order to reflect it in their own lives. And this progress in virtue, will appear as the consequence and the already mature fruit, of that pastoral zeal which springs from devotion to the Blessed Virgin.
Second Reading The Little Office of Mary Monday, Wednesday, Friday =================