18) Deus Caritas Est - God Is Love, December 25th, 2005
Pope Benedict's first encyclical surprised people because it wasn't about anything that a lot of people expected. Most thought it would be a smack-down of heretics, a letter making the Mass only said in Latin again, or some other "Liberal Catholic Worst Nightmare" Scenario. Nope. God is Love. That's it. The simplest, shortest, and truest sentence in the history of humanity "God...is...Love"
He has many wonderful quotes, but my favorite is from the introduction. "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction."
Christianity = an encounter with a person...a relationship...how often we need reminded of that!
gem, from paragraph 17: "God's will is no longer for me an alien will,
something imposed on me from without by the commandments, but it is now
my own will, based on the realization that God is in fact more deeply
present to me than I am to myself."
Christianity is an encounter with a person. That person knows me better than I know myself.
Other gems: "Christian charitable activity must be independent of parties and ideologies. It is not a means of changing the world ideologically, and it is not at the service of worldly stratagems, but it is a way of making present here and now the love which man always needs" (31). How often we do tend to think of our role as Christians to be associated with changing the world ideologically, when we should simply love for love's sake!
Similarly, the Pope notes, "It is not the Church's responsibility to make [Her] teachings prevail in political life. Rather, the Church wishes to help form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly" (28). The point here - we learned our lesson from passed eras - we no longer impose the faith through political systems or kingdoms...we now propose a way of living to all people, independent of political systems and "forcing it onto people." As John Paul II noted, now the Church "proposes, it does not impose."
On the saints: "In the saints one thing becomes clear: those who draw near to God no not withdraw from men, but rather become truly close to them: (42). The fear that prayer and a relationship with God will draw me away from others is unfounded, the Pope says. Drawing close to God ALWAYS draws me closer to others at the same time! Similarly, he notes in paragraph 14 that "Communion draws me out of myself towards him and, thus, towards unity with all Christians."