Thursday, 20 January 2022

20 January, Antonio, Cardinal Bacci: Meditations For Each Day

The Pope

1. The words with which a great Bishop and orator, Bossuet, began the funeral oration of a great king, are well remembered in history: "God alone is great." This is true in the absolute sense of the word. We are all insignificant, because any greatness which we can possess is not ours, but comes from God.

There is in the world, however, one man in whom the greatness of God is reflected in the most outstanding way of all. He participates in the authority and in a certain sense in the personality of Christ. This man is the Vicar of Jesus Christ, the Pope.

It is necessary to think deeply about certain words of our Redeemer which the Protestants and schismatics of every age seem to be anxious to forget. These words were addressed to Peter and through him to all his successors in the Church which was destined to last till the end of time. (Mt. 28:20) "Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven; and whatever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed also in heaven." (Mt. 16:18-19) And again: "Feed my lambs... Feed my lambs... Feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17)

These words need to be thought about rather than explained. The church is compared to a building which must rest upon one foundation stone: the Pope. The Church is compared to a flock which has only one shepherd: the Pope. To him is entrusted the divine power of binding and loosing upon earth. This power is granted to him personally. It is given to the other Apostles only as a group united to him.

2. The greatness of the Pope derives entirely from the words of the Gospel just quoted. But it is probable that nobody commented on them so beautifully as St. Bernard when he wrote to his former pupil who had ascended the throne of St. Peter. "Quis es? Sacerdos Magnus, Summus Pontifix, tu princeps episcoporum, tu heres Apostolorum... dignitate Aaron... potestate Petrus, unctione Christus. Tu es, cui claves traditae sunt, cui oves creditae sunt. Sunt quidem et alii caeli ianitores et gregum pastores; sed tu tanto gloriosius, quanto et differentius prae caeteris nomen hereditasti. Habent illi assignatos greges singuli singulos; tibi universi crediti sunt, uni unus: nec modo ovium sed et pastorum omnium, tu unus pastor." (St. Bernard of Clairvaux, De Consdieratione II, 8)

These words, almost incapable of being translated because of their tremendous power, fully express the greatness of the Pope. He is Priest and Supreme Pontiff, the Prince of Bishops, the heir of the Apostles, the living Peter, Christ Himself... To him are entrusted the keys of Heaven which he can open or close; to him alone, as to one supreme Pastor, is entrusted the whole flock of the faithful and of shepherds alike. His power extends to the ends of the world and is under the protection of God, Who has promised to confirm in Heaven whatever he will decree upon earth. His dignity and authority, then, are almost divine.

3. Let us bow humbly before such greatness. Let us promise to obey the Pope as we would Christ. When he defines doctrine as supreme Head of the Church, he is infallible. When he commands or exhorts, he does so in the name of God. We cannot dispute or murmur against anything which he teaches or decrees. To disobey the Pope is to disobey God. To argue or murmur against the Pope is to argue or murmur against Jesus Himself. When we are confronted with His commands, we have only one choice --absolute obedience and complete surrender. Moreover, we owe the Pope our veneration and love. If we love the Pope, it is like loving Christ. Pray for the Pope, that his commands and desires may be fully realised for the greater triumph of God's kingdom upon earth.

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Comments are subject to deletion if they are not germane. I have no problem with a bit of colourful language, but blasphemy or depraved profanity will not be allowed. Attacks on the Catholic Faith will not be tolerated. Comments will be deleted that are republican (Yanks! Note the lower case 'r'!), attacks on the legitimacy of Pope Francis as the Vicar of Christ (I know he's a material heretic and a Protector of Perverts, and I definitely want him gone yesterday! However, he is Pope, and I pray for him every day.), the legitimacy of the House of Windsor or of the claims of the Elder Line of the House of France, or attacks on the legitimacy of any of the currently ruling Houses of Europe.