From Pope John XXIII’s 1961 letter to his family:
I bless you all, remembering with you all the brides who have come to rejoice the Roncalli family and those who have left us to increase the happiness of new families, of different names but similar ways of thinking. Oh the children, the children, what a wealth of children and what a blessing!
Makes one think of Ave Maria. I think, at one count, we had 80 children on one block in the neighborhood? Truly a “wealthy” neighborhood in Pope John’s sense.
Also, prayers are out tonight for John Zambo. He is a student at Ave Maria who was in a car accident and is currently in the Intensive Care Unit. A zealous Catholic who will hopefully speed along on the road to recovery.
I am working on the next post in my Blogging Through Pope John XXIII series, but in lieu of a completed essay, here is a rather remarkable quote from Bishop Angelo Roncalli:
“What does it matter in any case, this little more or less that I can do in the service of Holy Church in my present ministry? Or even in other ministries which might be entrusted to me, but of which I do not and will not think; what is it all worth? In the eyes of God nothing more than the inner disposition of my soul, known to him even in secret; in the eyes of men, ‘a mist that appears for a little time’, often a snare and a delusion.” (p. 220)
Think of the political consequences of that position. Bishop Roncalli was writing that being President, Cardinal, Community Organizer, CEO, CFO, C-whatever-else-O, means nothing unless it is God’s will, and you are living in humble obedience to it.
He writes immediately after:
“When the Father’s voice was heard expressing his pleasure, Jesus had as yet done nothing in his life except live in obscurity, in silence and humble prayer, doing the humblest work. Oh what great comfort there is in this teaching!” (pg. 220)
I would be interested in people’s judgments on this piece: “A Catholic Case for Abandoning Social Media.”
“O sweet Jesus, grant me true love, the love of the Cross, not of those heroic crosses whose splendour nourishes self-love, but of those ordinary crosses which we bear with such repugnance, of those crosses which appear every day in our lives and which are found at every hour along our path – opposition, failure, abandonment, obstacles, adversities, coldness, impatience, rejection, scorn, bodily infirmity, mental depression, silence and aridity of the heart. Only then I shall I know that I love you; though I may not feel or know this, it will be enough. – O sweet Jesus, may your will always and without exception be fulfilled in me!”
- ‘Offering of a Crucified Life,’ Father Lintelo (found stapled to Pope John XXIII’s typed notes)
Humane Pursuits was kind enough to publish one my recent pieces in their journal. Take a read.
The scene is a dark, cold night in 1962. October 11 in St. Peter’s square in Rome. Following the first session of Vatican II, streams of people gather underneath the balcony of St. Peter’s chanting, hoping, that Pope John XXIII will appear and bless them. ‘The Good Pope’ they call their father now, because of his easy and friendly manner. The crowd cheers as he comes out to the balcony and begins to speak. “Dear sons and daughters,” he begins, “I feel your voices! Mine is just one lone voice, but it sums up the voice of the whole world. And here, in fact, all the world is represented here tonight. It could even be said that even the moon hastens close tonight, that from above, it might watch this spectacle that not even St Peter’s Basilica, over its four centuries of history, has ever been able to witness.” Thus, in a word, John XXIII indicates the momentous movement in history that excites the Catholics below. He speaks tenderly: “When you head home, find your children. Hug and kiss your children and tell them: ‘This is the hug and kiss of the Pope.’ And when you find them with tears to dry, give them a good word. Give anyone who suffers a word of comfort. Tell them ‘The Pope is with us especially in our times of sadness and bitterness.’” The people below erupt in cries of affection as John XXIII walks back into the papal apartments.
This man whom the crowd saw was evidently a tender man, freely showing his familial affection for his spiritual children. But when we read, in The Journal of a Soul, that this Pope made a habit of scathing and scrupulous self-examination in seminary, how can we understand the disparity between the two characters? The spiritual journey of Angelo Roncalli is mapped out for us and shows exactly the progress from a loving but fearful seminarian to a tender and fatherly Pope for all of Christendom. In fact, the change that took place helps to explain the spirit of Vatican II, and the ideals which informed it. John XXIII did not wake up one morning and arbitrarily decide to invoke a council. Continue reading
Intercollegiate Review Online graciously published one of my essays in their “Student Voices” section. An excerpt:
As a deluge of furious Twitterees were mistakenly web-razing the @SCOTUSblog and clergy distributed condoms in a “creative, faith-based protest” of the SCOTUS decision, Friedrich von Hayek was quietly clapping in his Viennese grave while the United States’ highest court shifted America into reverse on her road to serfdom. As voices were raised and veins bulged over the newly discovered “right to contraceptives,” Hayek was reminded of something similar he had seen in Germany and Russia: was not this tendency towards government solutions and centralization similar?
See the full piece here. Continue reading
“This does not mean that conservatives are wedded to some libertarian conception of the minimal state. The growth of modern societies has created social needs that the old patterns of free association are no longer able to satisfy. But the correct response is not to forbid the state from intruding into the areas of welfare, health care, education, and the rest, but to limit its contribution to the point where citizens’ initiatives can once again take the lead.” – Roger Scruton
Here is an excellent piece by Roger Scruton, who is coming to my university – Ave Maria University – this coming year. I’m not quite sure I agree that the basis of government is solely the spontaneous bond of affection and friendship – perhaps there is something deeper, or less emotive?
But the piece on the whole is excellent, and a good indication of where conservatism needs to go in order to become a positive vision. As per the usual conservative piece, Scruton’s least clarified part is his idea of what the welfare state should be. ‘Less than it is, not non-existent.’ But what does that mean in the concrete?
Angelo Roncalli studying as a boy.
Angelo Roncalli, later Pope John XXIII, was decidedly not an intellectual. He wrote, “I must avoid certain enthusiastic ideas which, however excellent in themselves, are yet harmful at certain times because they distract the mind too much.” Studying for Angelo, especially as a seminarian, was for the greater glory of God – something to be sanctified. Every aspect of life was seen in relation to his duty towards Christ. No part of himself – not his desires, studies, or piety – were outside of this context.
In The Seminary at Bergamo we find Angelo composing his journal as a zealous 19 year old seminarian, committed to his virtues and duties as a seminarian. His journal opens with his own “Rules of life,” a personal appropriation of the ascetic rules handed to the best students in seminary. Two sections read:
“Always allow sufficient time for study when you are at home.
“[The seminarian] must therefore never pursue his studies or do good works with a worldly end and intention in view.”