Enacting "Christ Our Hope"

As I was sitting in class this morning, I was thinking to myself, “I wonder if the pope gets jetlag…” Really, I wonder if he does? I bet the papal plane is no joke, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t have the need to resort to earplugs and inflatable neck pillows to get a little in-flight sleep. However, even if it is the case that Pastor Unus provides a bit better trans-Atlantic service than the typical airline, I bet the Holy Father is still rather worn out from having done such an “awesome” job during his recent pilgrimage (to quote the ever debonair American wordsmith, George W. Bush). As the US recovers in its own way—by readjusting to the pre-papal un-hype of the daily grind—Benedict will certainly enjoy some time of convalescence in his Vatican apartment or, perhaps, at Castel Gandolfo. Either way, life is getting back to normal for us all…or is it?

Maybe the better question would be, “Or should it?” As much as it’s necessary to pick up where we left off before the Benedictine visit, appropriately entitled "Christ Our Hope," I think it would be an affront to the sincerity and wisdom of the Holy Father if we all just reassumed whatever we had been doing a week ago. In my last couple of posts I’ve written some about how truly wise and brilliant Pope Benedict XVI really is, and a little about how we should not only hear him out, but take up his cause and implement it in the world we live in. This isn’t meant to be a figurative or ‘fluffy’ lip service to the Supreme Pontiff; I really mean it!

All of us, as Catholics, believe that we have a foundational vocation to holiness. Above all else, we are called to be holy. Part of hearing a vocation—be it to holiness, marriage, religious life, the priesthood, or coming to dinner on time—is listening. Perhaps this seems an overly facile concept, but it’s one that needs to be mentioned. If we all listened to the source of our vocation, we would never question what it is that we are called to do. However, the overwhelming degree of doubt, skepticism, mistrust and practical atheism that exudes forth from modern society gives evidence that we are not, in fact, doing enough to listen. Even among Catholics, these same problems persist in greater and greater measure. If we ought to listen, we have to know whom to listen to. If the source of our vocation to holiness comes from one who is Himself holy, then our attention needs to be focused upon that personal God, to whom the angels sing the unceasing and celestial Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus, which we are privileged to participate in at each Mass. Really, if we hope to be holy, our lives need to become the very enacting of that Sanctus acclamation. We need to render praise to God with our whole being.

Pope Benedict preaches nothing other than this call to holiness. He says nothing apart from the truth that we are called to, the truth of faith which is a truth higher than all others, and which leads to the ultimate Truth of Jesus Christ. If we desire to hear the vocem calling out our vocation, let us realize that the vox of the Holy Father is perfectly consonant with that of the Lord:

“You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he claims for his own, to proclaim his glorious works” (1 Pet 2:9). These words of the Apostle Peter do not simply remind us of the dignity, which is ours by God's grace; they also challenge us to an ever greater fidelity to the glorious inheritance which we have received in Christ (cf. Eph 1:18). They challenge us to examine our consciences, to purify our hearts, to renew our baptismal commitment to reject Satan and all his empty promises. They challenge us to be a people of joy, heralds of the unfailing hope (cf. Rom 5:5) born of faith in God's word, and trust in his promises.
(cf. Homily from Mass at Yankee Stadium, 20 April, 2008)

I do not intend to simply acknowledge the pope’s goodness of character and move on. I do not hope only that people saw his apostolic journey to America as a good-will voyage. I do not encourage those who seek meaning in the Holy Father’s pilgrimage only in the ostentations and easily-critiqued ceremony, which naturally accompanies his office and influence. Rather, I believe we should be doing something about the Truth he proclaims and the radical call to holiness that he has never shied away from. If we simply go back to doing what we were doing a week ago, then we have failed to receive the true message of hope that Pope Benedict sought to provide us: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. gravatar

    # by Andrew Reinhart - April 21, 2008 at 4:27 PM

    Inspiring post. Thanks! I need to be convicted and called forth from the fowl taste of my lukewarmness more often. You are a good brother in Christ.

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    # by Scott Sperry - April 21, 2008 at 6:56 PM

    Thank you brother. Your words are awesome and a message that we need to hear over and over again. It is so easy to stop listening and sink back into the daily grind. I'm going to keep reading your stuff. You're in my prayers. God Bless.

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    # by susan - April 21, 2008 at 10:43 PM

    Well said. I made a similar observation on my blog the day after Easter - for Christians there is no "back to normal," if by that we mean anything other than going forth and being the physical presence of Christ in the world. That post can be accessed here: http://susanjoan.wordpress.com/2008/03/24/easter-monday/

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    # by Anonymous - April 27, 2008 at 6:16 PM

    Late to this thread. Sorry. Just wanted to follow up on your assertion in an earlier post that the Catholic blogosphere is looking for something to sink their teeth into.
    That 'something' isn't written on mountains or under the sea, its right in front of us, if we're really interested. We could easily begin to:
    1. Pray for new Pentecost in the USA by signing up for or offering to help start Adoration in our parishes.
    2. Participate or begin Communio Circles in our cities. This is the study groups the Pope began with Fr von Balthasar in the '70s & is a wonderful way to delve more deeply into his writings.
    3. Learn what how to speak up in public. We don't have to take an Apologetics class to find a voice. E.g., our pastor was in line at the drugstore & was discussing the Pope's visit with the checkout clerk. The lady behind him spoke up & said "He's just a man" & our pastor said, "We know that, what do ya think we are, nuts?"
    4. Learn how to speak up in our own families. When I learned my parent was planning on voting for Obama, I pulled his voting records offline to demonstrate why that'd be wrong for a believing Catholic.
    5. In thinking about the apparently thorny issue of pro-abort politicians receiving Communion, I wondered if the ordinary Catholic who was walking up to Communion next to the politician could simply cross their arms & receive a blessing instead. I.e., not receive Communion in reparation for the scandal their neighbor was causing. If enough of us did that, eventually it'd cause some change.
    I could go on but you get the idea. There's alot the Catholics in this country could do, that's not the problem. The problem is pushing Christ Our Hope to the front burner, ahead of soaring gas & food prices & trying to make ends meet for our families etc. That requires TRUST that what Jesus said is true: Seek first the Kingdom & everything else will be added.

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    # by Andrew Haines - April 29, 2008 at 3:15 AM

    Anonymous,

    I agree that the primary locus of conversion lies precisely in what you pointed out: being courageous on the front lines of the world. The ideas you gave were great, in my estimation, particularly (for my purposes here) the idea of "Communio" groups and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Something that has really struck me recently is the potential lying dormant in many lay Catholics, and its actualization in groups like Communione e Liberazione and other such organizations. For the young/academic 'class' of Catholics--to whom I focus my writing, more than not--opportunities like these seem ever more appropriate and necessary in constructing a fundamental basis for catechizing the rest of the world with the Gospel of Life.

    My question would be, does anyone reading know of any great organizations that are popping up anywhere in the country--on campuses, in schools, etc.--that might inspire others to do likewise? Would similar organizations on college campuses and in communities of young people instill a greater appreciation and articulation of the faith? I'd love to hear about what is going on out there...