Monday, November 22, 2010

The Wisdom of the Cross: Pope Benedict and Contraception

In his homily to the newest princes of the Church, willing to shed their blood for love of Christ and the life of His Church, our Holy Father chose not to allude to the glory of the ceremony surrounding their elevation, but rather did what he does best and what he encourages his priests to do- he stuck to the Gospel.  On this glorious Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church’s message is both realistic and sobering- Christ reigns from the Cross and we are to stand with Him at all costs.
Interpreting the Petrine ministry in light of St. Paul’s great Christological Hymn in Colossians, the Holy Father noted that the primacy of Peter and his successors is totally at the service of this primacy of Jesus Christ, the only savior; at the service of His Kingdom, i.e. of his Lordship of love, so that His Kingdom might come, spread, and renew all men and all things, transforming the earth, making peace and justice blossom within her.  The world was created through Christ, but because of sin it no longer reflects His glory and is on the road to perdition.  Through the Fall, man has surrendered all of creation to the reality of evil.  Through the Incarnation of Christ, however, the hope of the restoration of all things is made effective.  The life of grace, allows us to stand with Christ at the foot of the Cross, where we in turn receive grace upon grace 
Our Lord reigns from the Cross and it is in the Lordship of Christ reigning from the Cross that Peter and his successors, along with all those newly clad in red, and in indeed all the Faithful, must participate.  The Holy Father noted that no human strategy or idea is capable of uniting us around the Cross- only a mature faith will accomplish this in us.
This is a particularly important point for us to reflect on, especially in our highly capable world.  In seeking to cure poverty and disease it is much easier for us to focus solely on a material remedy to a material problem- and obviously this is essential- but we often overlook the possibility of the roots of a certain issue not being wholly material, but rather spiritual as well.  It is certainly in this light that the Holy Father views the horror of the AIDS virus- as resulting from a dehumanization of human sexuality.  Although the details of the Holy Father’s remarks regarding contraception in Peter Seewalds’s new book are not yet out (it is set for release on November 24, 2010), the hasty misuse of his words by the media is distressing.  It seems impossible for the media to abide by human logic, never mind the logic of the Cross.  They would at least be abiding by human logic if they waited for the release of the book, and further, by reading those comments in light of all that Pope Benedict has had to say on the issue up until this point- but this is not the case.  As the Holy Father stands by the Cross, proclaiming that Christ’s Reign is one of love, a love that sees modern man involved in a crisis of a dehumanized sexuality, let our prayers remain with him.
Man is wounded, and as a prideful creature he does not like to be told that he is down.  As the Vicar of Christ on earth, the Holy Father must speak the love and compassion of Christ to the walking wounded.

Surrounded these days by the external glory of the Church, which is majestic and theologically grounded, let us reflect on the source and measure of Her true glory- Her Crucified Lord shining in and through Her.

Written by: Patrick Joseph


Anonymous said...

helpful are Janet Smith's comments on Zenit news service today.

Unknown said...

Pope Benedict XVI spoke profoundly and elegantly about the Cross at a General Audience on October 29,2008.
Here is an excerpt:

"But why did St Paul make precisely this, the word of the Cross, the fundamental core of his teaching? The answer is not difficult: the Cross reveals "the power of God" (cf. 1 Cor 1: 24), which is different from human power; indeed, it reveals his love: "For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (ibid., v. 25). Centuries after Paul we see that in history it was the Cross that triumphed and not the wisdom that opposed it. The Crucified One is wisdom, for he truly shows who God is, that is, a force of save men and women.

St Paul sacrificed his own life, devoting himself without reserve to the ministry of reconciliation, of the Cross, which is salvation for us all. And we too must be able to do this: may we be able to find our strength precisely in the humility of love and our wisdom in the weakness of renunciation, entering thereby into God's power. We must all model our lives on this true wisdom: we must not live for ourselves but must live in faith in that God of whom we can all say: "he loved me and gave himself for me". "

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