Contemplata aliis Tradere

A meagre contribution to the mission and work of the Order of Preachers: my reflections, thoughts, ideas and the occasional rant on matters mainly theological, philosophical and ecclesiastical, drawn primarily from my reading and experience of life and the world. Striving to be always Catholic, firmly Christian and essentially Dominican, flavoured with dashes of Von Balthasar.

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Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

A son of the English Province of the Order of Friars Preachers (Dominicans); born in Malaysia but have lived in the USA, Singapore, the UK & the Philippines for varying durations. A pilgrim and way-farer, a searcher for Truth on the journey of Life... "Wherever the Catholic sun doth shine, There’s always laughter and good red wine. At least I’ve always found it so. Benedicamus Domino!" - Hilaire Belloc

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

This is the faith of the Church...

During the Easter vigil, some of you may have been fortunate to witness the baptism of adults or renewed your baptismal vows. What I love most is this proclamation after the baptised proclaim their Creedal faith: "This is our faith, this is the faith of the Church and we are proud to profess it in Christ Jesus our Lord!"

Our Holy Father, Benedict XVI is one such person who is truly proud to profess his faith in Christ Jesus and in union with the whole Church. All his priestly life, as bishop, as cardinal and now as Pope, he has done this. Like St Paul, he would say: "Woe betide me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16b)

I truly am saddened when so many Catholics and other people expect this Pope or another Pope to radically challenge and change this common faith, this Gospel of salvation in Christ. Indeed as St Paul told the Church in Galatia: "But even if we or an angel from heaven should proclaim to you a gospel contrary to what we proclaimed to you, let that one be accursed!" (Gal 1:8) and he repeats this injunction.

Cardinal Ratzinger and indeed, Pope Benedict XVI preaches and teaches that which was proclaimed to him through the apostles and saints from Jesus Christ - nothing other. If he were to change this message or deviate from it, he would be accursed! There can nor will be no deviation from the essence of the Gospel and its message proclaimed consistently and over the centuries by the Church. John Paul the Great's Catechism of the Catholic Church is just such a compendium of this teaching.

Indeed, as His Holiness said at his first papal Mass yesterday: "The new pope knows that his task is to make the light of Christ shine before men and women of the world -- not his own light, but that of Christ,"

How then can anyone of Christian faith expect Benedict XVI to change the teachings of the Church? I understand that we are now in the 21st century but the human person, the human heart and the human condition has not changed since Adam. Christ's message and salvation addresses these essentials of humanity. I appreciate the need for openness to new science and discoveries, new methodologies and deeper fathomings of the mystery of God and humanity. I too hope for a Pope and Curia and indeed local bishop and clergy who are truly listening, concerned about our daily lives and compassionate. I believe the Pope will try his best.

But what some sectors of the Church want are just too far off the mark, too extrinsic to the core Gospel message of the Church. What some want is for Ratzinger to proclaim another 'gospel' and so be accursed in the eyes of St Paul. What some want is for the Church to deviate from the teachings of Christ, handed on by the apostles and saints to us. Sadly, they cannot say they are proud to profess the faith of the Church...

And that is simply not possible for Pope Benedict XVI and those baptised who truly are proud and happy to profess the ancient Creeds and to allow Christ and his grace to transform their lives. I, of all sinners, desperately need this grace. I admit my sinfulness and shortcomings, I confess that I often fall short of the mark, I know I sometimes don't understand what the Church or Christ himself is teaching because I am blinded by sin. And I ask for the grace of the Spirit to renew and transform my nature and infuse me with the virtues I need to live a better, more Christ-centred life, in line with the faith I profess.

What I don't do is clamour for change in the Church so that the faith fits my flawed and sinful life...

Friends, of your goodness and charity, pray for me, a poor sinner.

For a less theological and personal viewpoint but coming to similar conclusions, read Madeleine Bunting in The Guardian.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I watched as both CNN and BBC documented Pope Benedict XVI's first day on the job, so to speak. With fascination, I might add. Fascination with expectation, because I know that so much is expected of this one man -- after all, John Paul the Great is a tough act to follow, not only because of all that he accomplished but also because he is the only pope that the members of our/your generation have really known. Fascination mixed with wonder and awe, because in this day and age, one's actions and words are picked up, magnified, and scrutinized, so much so that one can be a celebrity even without wanting to be one -- such extensive coverage was unheard of in the earlier years of John Paul II, for example, simply because it was unavailable. Fascination and hope, wishing and praying for all the best for this man and the office to whom the attention of so many is now turned. And fascination with, I must admit, some incredulity, as in, "Can we leave the Pope alone now?" (are they to cover his second/third/nth day on the job as well?) :)

But I digress. I bring this up because watching him on TV, it seems that as Pope, his tone is a bit more subdued -- none of the "Catholicism is superior" attitude, and more "let's talk." The newspaper today headlined that the Pope opens his arms to all faiths (or something similar). His humility, too, in admitting to feelings of inadequacy was endearing. It will take some time getting used to, but truly, we have a new Pope. Perhaps he will be walking in the shadow of his predecessor for a while, but when he steps out of that shadow, may he be in the Eternal Light of Him whom he serves.

Thanks for your reply to my post. I do appreciate your openness and your sincerity in sharing.

God bless you!

6:19 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I forgot to say that I will look for the documents you referred to in your post. Then perhaps I'll email you. :)

God bless you!

6:25 pm  

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