Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Conversion, a topic which we met in earlier catecheses, is directed toward the practice of the commandment of love. It is particularly opportune, in this year of the Father, to highlight the theological virtue of love, according to the directives in the Apostolic Letter, "Tertio Millennio Adveniente" (cf n. 50).
The Apostle John urges: "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God: everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love has not known God, for God is love" (1 John 4:7-8).
While revealing to us the very essence of God as mystery of infinite love, these sublime words are also the foundation of Christian ethics, which is based on the commandment of love. We are called to love God with total commitment, and to relate to our brothers and sisters with an attitude of love inspired by the love of God Himself. To be converted means to convert to love.
Even in the Old Testament the profound dynamic of this commandment can be found in the covenental relationship God established with Israel: we have on the one hand the initiative of God's love, and on the other, the response of love which he expects. Here is an example of the divine initiative in the book of Deuteronomy: "It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you -- for you were the least of all peoples. It was because the Lord loved you" (Deuteronomy 7: 7-8). The fundamental commandment corresponds to this totally free, preferential love, which inspires all the religiosity of Israel: "You will love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength" (Ibid., 6:5).
2. The God who loves is not a remote God, but one who intervenes in history. When he reveals his name to Moses, he does so to assure him of his loving assistance in the salvific Exodus event, an assistance that would endure for ever (cf Exodus 3:15). Through the words of the prophets, he continually reminds his people of this gesture of his love. For example, we read in Jeremiah: "Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought a quiet dwelling, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love, therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you" (Jeremiah 31: 2-3).
This love takes on a tone of immense tenderness (cf. Hosea 11: 8 ff.; Jer 31: 20) and usually avails itself of paternal images. However, it also is sometimes expressed by a nuptial metaphor: "I will take you for my wife forever, I will take you for my wife in justice and in righteousness, in mercy and in love" (Hosea 2:21, cf vv. 18-25).
Even after his people are repeatedly unfaithful to the covenant, God still offers his love. He creates in them a new heart that makes them worthy of accepting his law without reservation, as we read in the prophet Jeremiah: "I will put my law within them, I will write it on their hearts" (Jeremiah 31:33). In the same way, we read in Ezekiel: "A new heart I will give you, and a new spirit I will put within you; and I will take from you the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (Ezekiel 36:26).
3. The New Testament presents us with this dynamic of love as centered in Jesus, the beloved Son of the Father (cf Jn 3:35; 5:20; 10:17), Who is revealed through Him. Those participating in this love know the Son, accepting His teaching and redemptive work.
It is not possible to enter into the Father's love without imitating the Son, and thereby observing the Father's commandments: "As the Father has loved Me, so I have loved you. Abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (Ibid., 15:9-10). In this way we also participate in the Son's knowledge of the Father: "I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from My Father" (Ibid., v. 15).
4. Love allows us to enter fully into the filial life of Jesus, making us sons in the Son: "See what great love the Father has given us, that we should be called sons of God, and we really are! The reason the world does not know us is because it did not know him" (1 John 3:1). Love transforms our lives and enlightens our knowledge of God, until we arrive at that perfect knowledge of he whom St. Paul speaks: "Now I know only imperfectly, but then I will know perfectly, even as I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12).
The relationship between knowledge and love must be emphasized. The intimate conversion which Christianity proposes is an authentic experience of God, as indicated by Jesus in the priestly prayer during the Last Supper: "This is eternal life: that they may know you, the one true God, and Jesus Christ, Whom You have sent" (John 17:3). Of course, knowledge of God has an intellectual aspect (cf Romans 1:19-20). But the living experience of the Father and the Son happens in love. In the last analysis, it happens in the Holy Spirit, so that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Romans 5:5).
The Paraclete is the One who enables us to experience God's paternal love. The most consoling effect of his presence in us is precisely the conviction that we will never lose this everlasting and immeasurable love, with which God has always loved us: "Who will separate us from the love of Christ?... I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord"(Ibid., 8:35, 38-39). The new heart, which loves and knows, beats in unison with God, who loves with an everlasting love.
He remained in Austria for fifteen years until May 24, 1976 when Pope Paul VI elevated him to the Sacred Conclave at the age of 66 and made a cardinal deacon during the Pope's Consistory that year, receiving the titular church of St. Lawrence in Lucina and named President of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses where he remained until his seventy-sixth birthday in 1990 when he requested to step down. A year after he had become President of the above committee, he was also named President of the Commission for the Sanctuaries of Pompeii, Loreto, and Bari in Italy. He served here from 1984 until 1993 when, at the age of 83, he resigned all duties to completely retire, now, at the age of 89, residing at Via della Scrofa, 70 00186 in Rome. On June 22, 1987 the Holy Father transferred Cardinal Rossi from cardinal deacon to cardinal priest.
The question comes up about prists who apostatize, or are suspended or excommunicated. The answer is they remain priests unless given a dispensation from their vows by the Holy See. Therefore they retain the power, although not the authority, of priesthood. For example, they have the power of saying a true Mass, althought they would sin grievously if they do so. However, they cannot forgive sins, except in the case of the dying, for absolution is a judicial power and thus needs jurisdiction from the bishop.
Only those Churches in union with the Roman Catholic Church have the power and jurisdiction to confect the bread and wine into the Body and Blood, and to forgive sins. The schismatical Greek Orthodox Church's priests have received their orders from validly ordained bishops. Therefore, even though they are not united to the Roman Catholic Church, they have the power to say Mass. If these schismatical priests were to return to the unity of the Church, they would not be re-ordained. They would be recognized as validly ordained and thus not only retain the power but also the lawful jurisdiction. Except for these schismatic Churches in the East, no non-Catholic denomination has had validly ordained bishops. Therefore none has true priests. A number of these non-Catholic denominations call some of their ministers "bishops," but they are so only in name since they have not been validly ordained. And so with other ministers; they are not priests, since they received no valid orders.
The priestly vow of celibacy is taken, as we covered last installment, when a man is received into the subdeaconate. Catholic priests of the Latin Rite are to remain unmarried and unattached in imitation of Christ Himself. The Apostles, after they were called to the ministry, left all they had. Prophets such as Elias, Eliseus, Jeremias, and Saint John the Baptist all lived in celibacy. The reason for celibacy is that a priest is ordained for the exclusive service of God: his talents, his time, his very life belong to His service. Saint Paul says in 1 Corinthians 7: 32-33, "He who is unmarried is concerned about the things of the Lord, how he may please God. Whereas he who is married is concerned about the things of the world, how he may please his wife; and he is divided."
A priest must devote all his time to God for he must be ready to visit the sick and dying at any hour of the day; he must instruct his people and guard them from harm for he is shepherd to his flock. He must hear confessions for as long a time as there is a need and administer the sacraments, say Holy Mass, attend to the poor, etc. If he has the responsibility of pastor he must maintain a church or build one, including a rectory, possibly a school, maybe even a convent. Aside from all this he must find time for individual counseling, meetings with Diocesan officials and other priests and reciting the Divine Office or Breviary each day. Since Vatican II the stipulations for this have been relaxed somewhat but it is still an obligation he must fulfill. This requirement is more stringent in religious orders where they generally devote more time to prayer and the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy.
Finally, the priest must follow the rubrics which are rules for the proper execution of the services of the Church for the exact conduct of any liturgical function. This is contained in the Missal or Sacramentary and Lectionary. The rubrics also incorporate the Ceremonial Book for Bishops, the Pontifical Rites and Prayers for Episcopal Functions, the Martyrology, Ritual Administration of the Sacraments and Blessings, and, of course the Breviary which is composed of Psalms and Lessons. As we said before this has been greatly altered to accommodate the hectic schedule of priests today who simply don't have the time they might have had in the past in reciting all 150 Psalms each week and the Canonical Hours of Matins, Prime, Terce, Sext, None, Vespers and Compline. Every prayer and approved book of prayers and hymns of the Church are inspired by the Holy Spirit, dwelling in the Mystical Body of Christ as its Soul. These prayers and canticles come from the Old and New Testaments, as well as from the Church itself, and form the official public prayers.
Death of Saint Kenneth of Kilkenny, Irish-born monk who was a close friend of Saint Columba. Legend has it the Holy Spirit would warn him of dangers from afar so that he could pray in intercession for others. One such account was of the time Kenneth was sitting down to a meal in the monastery refectory at Kilkenny when suddenly he bolted for the chapel, knowing Columba was in a serious storm at sea on his way to Scotland. After intense prayer by Kenneth, Columba's ship made it safely to port thanks to the former's devout prayers.
Death of Pope Boniface VIII, 193rd successor of Peter who began the conceb of Jubilee Years, celebrating the first in 1300. He had a bitter on-going feud and all-out war with France's King Philip the Fair with both excommunicating each other over investiture and Boniface's Papal Bull Unam Sanctam.
Pope Leo X infers the title "Defender of the Faith" on King Henry VIII. A few years later that would change when the English monarch would rebel vehemently against Rome and Pope Clement VII.
Pope Pius XII releases his 30th encyclical Ad Caeli Reginam which proclaims the Queenship of Mary.
The Second Vatican Council begins on this day in Rome as Pope John XXIII convenes the cardinals and bishops and other leaders for what would result in the winds of change within the Church.
Pope Paul VI calls together the 2nd Bishops Synod of Rome which would last until October 28, 1969.