Sunday, March 11, 2007

B16's "Love" Train... of Thought

Tuesday will see the release of the second significant document of Benedict XVI's pontificate -- and, not coincidentally, the second one on love.

The highly-awaited Sacramentum Caritatis ("The Sacrament of Love"), the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation containing the pontiff's last word on 2005's Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, will be released at a noonday Vatican press conference, with the '05 Synod's relator, Cardinal Angelo Scola of Venice, and Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, the secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops, talking it up.

Meeting last month with the priests of Rome, the Pope expressed a hope that his first major release since January 2005's encyclical Deus caritas est might be of use "in liturgical meditation, whether personal, for the preparation of homilies and the Eucharistic celebration, and also to guide, illumine and revitalize popular piety."

It remains to be seen whether the letter is a purely theological meditation, or whether it will include new guidelines for the liturgy and other devotions. The next Synod of Bishops -- which'll be devoted to the Word of God in the life of the church -- is scheduled for late next year.

At today's Angelus, reflecting today's Gospel, conversion and repentance were on-deck:
Christ’s invitation to conversion, “to repent…is not just a simple moral dictate, but the most effective way to change oneself and society for the better”: Benedict XVI today placed at the basis of social renewal the most intimate element of Lenten preaching. Conversion is the only realistic attitude, “the only appropriate answer to events which undermine human certainties”....

Conversion s neither an intimate nor moral attitude, but is of benefit to society. The Pontiff said the “it is the most effective response to evil, at every level, inter personal, social and international. Christ invites us to respond to evil first and foremost by seriously examining our own conscience and purifying our lives. Otherwise – he says – we will perish in a similar way. In fact the people and societies which live their lives without every questioning themselves are destined for ruination. Instead Conversion, though it will not save us from problems or misadventures, permits us to face them in a different ‘way’. Above all it helps us prevent evil, by defusing some of its threats. And it allows good to win over evil, maybe not at always at a practical level – often events occur beyond our will – but certainly at a spiritual level. In short: Conversion defeats evil at its very root which is sin, even if it may not always prevent its consequences”.

“Let u spray that the Blessed Virgin Mary accompanies us – concluded Benedict XVI – and sustain us on our Lenten journey, so that every Christian may rediscover the greatness, I would add the beauty of conversion. May She help to understand that penitence and correcting our behaviour is not just moralizing but the most appropriate way to better ourselves and society. A happy sentence expresses this concept well: Lighting a flame is worth far more that cursing [the darkness]”.

And in that last sentence, the Pope summarized the approach he's taken to his Petrine ministry.

Reuters/Tony Gentile