Thursday 14 February 2013

False optimism after Council: Pope tells seminarians

Chiesa has a post about the Holy Father speaking a few days ago to seminarians in Rome, as he does each year.  It was before the announcement of his resignation but he used the occasion to speak from brief notes rather than a prepared text and the event is less public than many of his engagements.  It speaks of his clear sightedness in still robust view of the recent history of the Church and also of his confidence and his "sure and certain hope" that the Church cannot fail because Her mission is ultimately that of Christ - her "Supreme Pastor" as he said yesterday.

He speaks first of the Christian in modern society:
As Christians we are dispersed and we are foreigners: we see that today in the world Christians are the most persecuted group because we do not conform, because we are a spur, against the tendencies of egoism, materialism, all these things. [. . .] In the workplace Christians are a minority, they find themselves in the condition of outsiders; it is a wonder that someone today can still believe and live this way. This too belongs to our life:  it is the form of being with Christ crucified; this being foreigners, not living according to the way in which everyone lives, but living - or at least seeking to live - according to his word, in a great diversity with respect to what everyone says. And precisely this is characteristic of Christians. Everyone says: 'But everyone is doing this, why not me?' No, not me, because I want to live according to God. St. Augustine once said: 'Christians are those who do not have their roots below like trees, but have their roots above and live this gravitation, not the natural downward gravitation.' Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us to accept this mission of living as dispersed, as a minority, in a certain sense; to live as foreigners and nonetheless to be responsible for others and, precisely in this way, strengthening the good in our world.
And of the Church and its future: Christians we have the future: the future is ours, the future belongs to God. And thus, being Christians, we know that ours is the future and the tree of the Church is not a dying tree, but the tree that grows ever anew. We therefore have a reason not to allow ourselves to be disturbed - as Pope John said - by the prophets of disaster who say: the Church is a tree come from the mustard seed, grown over two millennia, now it has time behind it, now is the time in which it is dying. No. The Church is always renewed, is always reborn. The future is ours.
"Naturally, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism that says: the time of Christianity is finished. No: it is beginning again! The false optimism was that after the Council, when the convents were closing, the seminaries were closing, and they were saying: but it's nothing, everything's fine . . . No! Everything is not fine. There are also grave, dangerous downfalls, and we must recognize with healthy realism that this is not all right, it is not all right when wrongful things are done. But also to be sure, at the same time, that if here and there the Church is dying because of the sins of men, because of their unbelief, at the same time it is being born anew. The future really does belong to God: this is the great certainty of our life, the great, true optimism that we know. The Church is the tree of God that lives forever and bears within itself eternity and the true inheritance: eternal life.”

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