The Catholic Thing
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By Fr. Bevil Bramwell, OMI   
Sunday, 20 May 2012

Take a careful look at this paragraph:

We have no information on her childhood, but from her writings it seems that she spent it peacefully in an affectionate family environment. In fact, to express God's boundless love, she valued images linked to the family, with particular reference to the figure of the father and of the mother. In one of her meditations she prays thus: “Most gentle Lord, when I think of the special graces that you have given me through your solicitude: first of all, how you took care of me since my childhood and how you removed me from the danger of this world and called me to dedicate myself to your holy service, and how you provided everything that was necessary for me: food, drink, dress and footwear (and you did so) in such a way that I had no occasion to think of these things but of your great mercy” (Marguerite d’Oingt).
Pope Benedict XVI was speaking here about Marguerite d’Oingt and her part in the great Carthusian spiritual current in the Church.

Esoteric? No, there is a lot to learn here. What parent, what daughter, what son, could not learn a fair bit about being a Christian just from this little paragraph? Pope Benedict’s words and those of some of the previous popes contain wonderful information to inform and inspire us.

These particular words are from his audience on 3 November 2010. But they were not simply for the crowd at the audience. They can help us in our spiritual lives and give us some serious matter to reflect on. Certainly more than what we get from another Law and Order episode.

This is especially vital because giving people the tools to keep on learning about Christianity throughout their lives is often passed over in efforts at education and evangelization. Also frequently missed is the Catholic’s obligation to remain informed, not only from what they see on the nightly news. but directly from the Church. And many of the tools are right here on the Vatican website:

       The Communion of the Apostles by James Tissot, c. 1890

The media cast the pope as an odd figure in another country who has little or no relevance here. In fact, he is the Vicar of Christ and the earthly head of the Universal Church. In the early Church: “The community of believers was of one heart and mind.” (Acts 4:32) When did this cease to be the visible trademark of the Church?

There is one mind in the Church because there is one Word whose body it is. The pope expresses and helps bring about the unity of the Church in many ways. But a crucial one involves speaking the one truth.

The Church is not a political system with different parties, it is the single Body of Christ infused with the one Spirit of God. And in it, therefore, there is one truth. Now there is a lot more that could be said about this unity (which unites diverse elements). But the point is that we can constantly find nuggets of the one truth in the pope’s audiences, homilies, and speeches.

He is not just another member of the Church. In the words of Vatican II: “The Roman Pontiff, as the successor of Peter, is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of unity of both the bishops and of the faithful.” One aspect of the unity of the Church is her unity in the one truth.

Now, being of one mind comes about because Jesus Christ, risen and glorified speaks through his Church: ”He is not absent from the gathering of His high priests, but above all through their excellent service He is preaching the word of God to all nations, and constantly administering the sacraments of faith to those who believe, by their paternal functioning.”(Vatican II)

The dissent movement in the Church has replaced the hermeneutics of faith with the hermeneutics of politics. Of course there is politics in the Church, with people clawing each other for titles and power. But that does not change the fact that there is only one truth in the Church. This one truth embraces individuals, parishes, dioceses, and the whole world in one mind.

On the Vatican website – in the Resource Library – there are texts of the Bible, the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, the Catechism, and much more. Choosing to read just an article a day or one audience a day will help you to understand much.

The real miracle here is that you will find yourself. Pope Benedict developed this point: “Each person finds his good by adherence to God's plan for him, in order to realize it fully: in this plan, he finds his truth, and through adherence to this truth he becomes free (cf. Jn 8:32). [Then] to defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity.”

And you can find it all on just one website!

Bevil Bramwell, priest of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, teaches theology at Catholic Distance University. He holds a Ph.D. from Boston College and works in the area of ecclesiology.

The Catholic Thing is a forum for intelligent Catholic commentary. Opinions expressed by writers are solely their own.

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Comments (1)Add Comment
written by Randall, May 20, 2012
Thank you, Fr Bramwell. I just want to second what Father has written. There is a wealth of Church teaching available, not only from the Vatican but from numerous faithful Catholics: clergy, religious and lay people alike. Just take a look at the right side of this web page, at the books, films and websites listed. Thanks to the Holy Spirit there is an abundance of spiritual resources in Mother Church.

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