Saturday, April 09, 2005

Follow me!

From Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's beautiful homily at yesterday's funeral for John Paul II:
Follow me! In July 1958 the young priest Karol Wojtila began a new stage in his journey with the Lord in the footsteps of the Lord. Karol had gone to the Masuri Lakes for his usual vacation, along with a group of young people who loved canoeing. But he brought with him a letter inviting him to call on the Primate of Poland, Cardinal Wyszynski. He could guess the purpose of the meeting: he was to be appointed as the auxiliary Bishop of Krakow. Leaving the academic world, leaving this challenging engagement with young people, leaving the great intellectual endeavor of striving to understand and to interpret the mystery of that creature which is man and of communicating to today's world the Christian interpretation of our being -- all this must have seemed to him like losing his very self, losing what had become the very human identity of this young priest. Follow me -- Karol Wojtyla accepted the appointment for he heard in the Church's call the voice of Christ. And then he realized how true are the Lord's words: "Those who try to make their life secure will lose it, but those who lose their life will keep it" (Luke 17:53). Our pope -- and we all know this -- never wanted to make his own life secure, to keep it for himself, he wanted to give of himself unreservedly, to the very last moment, for Christ and thus also for us. And thus he came to experience how everything which he had given over into the Lord's hands came back to him in a new way. His love of words, of poetry, of literature became an essential part of his pastoral mission and gave his new vitality, new urgency, new attractiveness to the preaching of the Gospel, even when it is a sign of contradiction.
And also this, which is relevant to my post last night about ghosts in the machine:
He interpreted for us the paschal mystery as a mystery of divine mercy. In his last book, he wrote: The limit imposed upon evil "is ultimately Divine Mercy" ("Memory and Identity," p. 60-61). And reflecting on the assassination attempt, he said: "In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love .... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good." Impelled by this vision, the Pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful.
I wonder, do we see suffering as pointless because we are materialists or are we materialists because we see suffering as fruitless? Which is the cause and which is the effect? More about Cardinal Ratzinger here, including this. Love the hat. The creator of the Ratzinger site has also created an interesting collection of material for those interested in exploring the relationship between American Liberalism and Catholicism.

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