|Table of Contents | Words: Alphabetical - Frequency - Inverse - Length - Statistics | Help | IntraText Library|
|The Scalabrinian Congregations|
The Missionary Fathers and Brothers of St. Charles
The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles
Scalabrini A living voice
IntraText CT - Text
a) THE PRIESTHOOD OF THE FAITHFUL
"Every human being is the spokesperson and priest of the universe"
While we are not the last end of created things, certainly in the physical order we are their immediate goal because they are subject to us and serve us: "You have placed him over the works of your hands. You have placed all things under his feet."
Why, in fact, does the sun pour forth the inexhaustible torrents of its light? Who is it that snatches from electricity its power and compels it to follow certain paths and become an instrument of traction, of movement, of new life? Who is it that compels a ray of the sun to become a fascinating painter of the works of nature and art? Who is it that subjugates air and steam to his own wagon, so as to outspeed the birds in flight? Who is it that measures the distance of the planets, their surface area, that determines their weight and analyzes their composition? What creature is there that scans the paths of the shining stars? Why did God create the treasures in the sky, the earth, and the sea with so much magnificence?
Without human beings, these marvels would not make sense. All
these things would have no reason for being, for multiplying, or for continuing to exist. In their very nature and purpose, all these things proclaim the need for human beings in creation because without human beings they themselves might fall back into primordial nothingness. We are the immediate, temporal, and subordinate purpose of their existence and duration.
So for us the universe is like a great book in which are recorded the innumerable favors of the Creator. It is up to us to read the Word of God's love, wisdom, and omnipotence written on the face of things; the Word of God who for our sake drew all these things from nothingness and for our sake keeps them from falling back into nothingness. Given the inability of the other creatures, human beings have received the honor and responsibility of being their spokespersons and priests of the universe, giving voice to inanimate nature in its hymn of glory and universal gratitude to the Creator!1
"Citizen of eternity"
The Catholic religion, which has revealed to human beings their high worth by clearly disclosing to them the sublime purpose for which they were made, has also imposed on them duties that are commensurate with the sublimity of this end of theirs. In the conduct of their lives, Christians can no longer confine themselves to the narrow limits of reason and time if they do not want to disavow their divine origin and their noble destination.
As citizens of eternity, Christians must scan with their minds the vast horizon revelation has opened up before their eyes, where the earth is only a reflection of heaven and eternity the final judge of human actions. In this light (which is the only true light), the most dramatic events lose their importance; or better, the real importance of these events comes from religion, interwoven, as it is, in a thousand different ways with all things human. The rise and fall of empires, the revolutions of peoples, the convulsions and fusions of peoples are just a process kicking up a bit of dust in the immense reaches of space. Religion is the only thing that really matters. What God ultimately has in mind in working through human events is the spread and triumph of religion.
In this magnificent plan nothing is isolated any longer: one being is related to another, one action to another. All individuals and nations have a role to play; all have a share in the work of building up the edifice. Doing our part means fulfilling the designs of divine Providence. It means weaving, during our lifetime, the eternal crown of justice that, even before his death, St. Paul knew he would receive. On the other hand, doing our part poorly means disturbing the order established by God. It means failing to come up to God's expectations. It means burdening our conscience with the guilt of the servant who buried his talent instead of trading with it. 2
"Lay people, you too must be apostles"
Brothers and sisters, you too must be apostles, that is, people of action and sacrifice, zealous for the honor of God and the Church, aflame with love for souls. Who ever said that, just because you are lay people, you cannot exercise the apostolate of the word in the little world around you by using uplifting speech in your conversations, your instructions, and your admonitions? Who ever said you cannot exercise the apostolate of good example by openly professing your faith, cost what it may! What about the apostolate of charity: helping the poor, visiting the sick, consoling the afflicted, doing good to all? What about the apostolate of civilization: cooperating in the work of destroying sin, which depraves people, and in the work of advancing justice, which brings prosperity to nations? When the fatherland is in supreme need, every citizen becomes a soldier. When the Church is in desperate need, every believer must be an apostle, nay, a fervent and generous apostle. 3
"Even lay people have their apostolic mission"
Lay people are soldiers of Christ, too, are they not? They too must take up arms for the support and defense of his kingdom (...). The activity of the clergy has limits beyond which it cannot go either for lack of means or programs or because situations are unfavorable or actually hostile. Lay people can go where a priest cannot. Often an exhortation from a lay person is accepted more readily than from a priest (...). Lay people, too, have their apostolate and, may I
say, their apostolic mission. 4
"Every Christian is born an apostle"
Not all of you, it is true, have been called to preach the gospel like the Apostles, but all of you have an obligation, in proportion to and in conformity with your state of life, to advance the cause of religion, to defend it, and to promote its glory. In the words of Tertullian, every Christian is born an apostle: an apostle to help keep the promoters of evil from increasing and to prevent desertions from the fields of the Divine Tiller; to keep divisions and dissensions from erupting; to forestall the growth of that deadly and worse-than-death coldness that keeps people from attending to their duties, to piety, to the word of God, to the correction of their morals, and to the exercise of Christian virtues (...).
Whoever does not feel the urge to share in the apostolate for the defense of truth and of the Church obviously has not received the gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the Spirit cannot remain idle once he enters a human heart. He is an active and productive Spirit, full of power and energy. Whoever has this Spirit in his heart speaks willingly of God and of things divine, is full of zeal for the instruction of his brothers and sisters in Christian doctrine, and proclaims his readiness to die at any time for the cause of Jesus Christ and his Church. 5
"You are not declining old age but rising youth"
If the day when our wayward society returns to the straight path seems far off, you, especially, 0 good lay people, who are disgusted and horrified by the apostasy of our society, who revere and love the name of God, you can hasten the longed-for hour. You can prepare the hearts of your brothers and sisters for repentance by professing your faith in the sight of all people, by taking pride in being Christians and working with greater alacrity. You feel honored at being able to serve the Lord and to glorify him in your speeches and writings, and in the various events of life.
You can do much because, in the words of a well known writer, "You are not declining old age but rising youth." It is up to you to get hold of society and make it Christian once again by working with bold
ideas and firm intentions so that the Catholic spirit will infiltrate everywhere and permeate everything having to do with the intellectual, moral and even physical life of people.
Because of foolish prejudices, so many teachings are viewed with suspicion if they come from priests but make a deep impression if they come from lay people! How many doors closed to God's minister open wide before a man of the world, who could, if he wanted, bring in with him the precious treasure of the faith! Because of your everyday contacts, you have so many ways ‑- which a priest rarely if ever does ‑- to get close to your brothers and sisters, to enlighten them, to speak eloquently of Jesus Christ and the Church. What a precious and fruitful apostolate you could exercise in the midst of society! 6
"You are the priests of the home"
The work of priests could never fully achieve its purpose if it were not backed by the parents. So let me address another word to you, fathers and mothers, and to you who take their place. In the words of St. Gregory the Great, the lips of parents are their children's first books. Yes, it is up to you, as the Apostle Paul teaches, to bring them up in discipline and in the precepts of the Lord, that is, in his holy law and in his gospel teachings.
Just as you taught them since they were babies to respect you, to give you a kiss or a caress, to babble your name with their infant lips, so you should also teach them from their infancy to join their little hands to devoutly greet the Lord, to pronounce his most holy Name with respect, to invoke him, to adore him everywhere and to unite themselves with him through the bonds of faith, hope and love (...).
Do not miss a chance to instill noble and lofty sentiments into their hearts. By so doing, you will help them raise their minds to heavenly thoughts. Your teaching should be such that it almost melts into each and every action and merges with it, as it were. Your teaching does not have the heavy trappings of the pulpit; so it does not induce the boredom and dreariness associated with the pulpit. Your teaching should be understood and loved by both the slow and quick-witted. Since your teaching is imparted by a word, a gesture, even by a look or a smile, it will carry with it both the precept and the incentive to live it.
Religious instruction uses both reason and sentiment: reason is for adults, sentiment for children. Hence, a mother, the person in whom
sentiment predominates, is also the most lovable and most powerful of educators. The memories of a mother are never forgotten (...).
Mothers, make use of this gentle and sublime influence the Creator has endowed you with. Utilize this power to bring up children worthy of Him and every day present them to Him as your living and precious offerings. You are the priests of the home, just as a priest is the mother of the Church. You must find your greatest joy and satisfaction in forming Jesus Christ in the hearts of your children. Raphael became immortal by painting the figure of the transfigured Lord on canvass. More blessed and more sublime is the Christian mother who makes living pictures of the Son of God out of her children. She can say of herself, with greater truth, what a famous painter had said of himself: "pingo aeternitati," I am painting for eternity. 7
"They made the spirit of Jesus permeate every fiber of society"
Recall the example of your forefathers and mothers (...). They set an example for us to follow even when it comes to public life. They were more concerned with just and holy laws than with politics itself. They were convinced that religion, which is essentially superior to political parties, must be served by all and not be the servant of anyone. They were not so arrogant as to pretend that the Church should be ruled by their lights or by the norms of earthly prudence, which, after all, is so criminally indulgent and misleading vis-à-vis the world. Instead, as true followers of the Redeemer, true disciples of the gospel and true patriots, they made the spirit of Jesus permeate every fiber of society and created the stupendous harmonies of the Christian world and Christian civilization.
Dearly beloved, if that spirit truly burns in you, it will indeed burst into life and turn into action. It will pass on from you to other souls, to your family, to your relatives and friends, to your fellow citizens, to the whole world around you, be it big or small. This priesthood, this lay apostolate, was always a duty and an honor, but today it is a supreme, urgent and absolute need. 8