The figure of the Good Shepherd, ready to confront the wolf so as to protect and save his sheep even at the cost of his own life (Jn 10: 11-12) is an eloquent and very moving image. Created by Our Lord Jesus Christ himself to describe his own sentiments, it also expresses the pastoral zeal that every Bishop should have for the competent fulfillment of his mission, in collaboration with his priests and under the authority of the High Pontiff, “teaching, sanctifying, and governing” (Vatican Council II. Decree Christus Dominus, no. 11).
As everyone knows, the famous saying “When in Rome, do as the Romans do” insinuates an adaptation to the customs and culture of the places we visit, in order to feel more at ease and be more easily accepted by the inhabitants. This norm is applied, obviously, to those practices that don’t offend good morals, for it’s also true that as good Catholics we should never frequent places where this could occur. Even more, in places where our faith might be put at risk.
On reading the affirmation that titles this post, many will remember that he always denied that he was. Without having to go too far, take for instance his recent interview on the flight to the United States after his trip to Cuba.
“The Holy Spirit, whom Christ the head pours out on his members, builds, animates, and sanctifies the Church” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 747). Every since the beginning of Christianity, this sanctifying action has resulted, among numerous other aspects, in the fraternal help and assistance in favor of our brothers and sisters in need.
Throughout the ages, stories of heroes – whether true or legendary – have thrilled the hearts of the young. As a result of the disinterested courage and idealism characteristic of their age-group, adolescents dream of great undertakings. To such hearts, burning with desire for heroism, the Church has always presented models that would stimulate true valor, perfect audacity, and authentic generosity – in a word, sanctity. Who is not touched by the courageous lives of young people such as Saint Agnes, Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, and Saint Maria Goretti?
All Christians know, especially in moments of doubt and affliction, where and how to find God and obtain relief for their souls. Prayer, whether mental or vocal, is where we have the certainty of finding God, as he himself has promised us: ‘where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them’(Mt 18:17).
‘Charity begins at home’. This popular expression clearly transmits the attitude that an apostle of the Gospel should have. In fact, no one can give to others what he himself doesn’t possess.
‘You water the hills from your lofty abode; the earth is sated with the fruit of your works’ (Psalm 103:13). This simple material reality presented by the sacred text – of rain that irrigates the mountains, giving rise to springs and streams that in turn water the Earth – was chosen by the Angelic Doctor for his inaugural lecture at the University of Paris.
When the Queen of Sheba heard of the great wisdom of Solomon, she allowed no obstacle to impede her undertaking the difficult journey to meet this great monarch, despite the fact that protracted expeditions at the time were perilous adventures. She made all these efforts just to encounter an earthly king, and to observe his wisdom. Impressed with all she had seen and heard in Jerusalem, and after presenting the richest of gifts to the king of Israel, she returned to her country, filled with admiration (cf. 2Chron 9:1-12).
Being an important magisterial document, an Encyclical should be characterized by clear and defined ideas regarding the topic at hand, in order to delineate the path to be followed by the Hierarchy and the faithful; as well as, consequentially, by all men of good will – for the Church never ceases to be a moral reference point, even for those who don’t follow her. Which brings us to the question: how is it possible that Laudato si’ takes a position which, in certain points, contradicts the magisterial teaching of the Church regarding the ecological issue, while in other points it emphasizes these same teachings. It hurts us to say this, but it is a veritable hodgepodge of ideas…that seems suitable for such a ‘green’ encyclical.