My thoughts on the Papal Visit

Of course, I was very interested in watching the Pope come to the area and reading his words to us.  His core message  -- at least I think -- was that the core issue is the need to cultivate a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.  Some of the best insights that I have seen come from Angelo Matera on his, especially How the Media is Missing the Pope’s Radical Critique of American Religion.  He talks about the Pope's solution as proposing the method of the "creative minorities" to all the faithful, very interesting read.  Here is my angle.  As Catholics, we having tended to reject "Do you have a personal relationship with Jesu Christ?" as a protestant thang.  But, starting with John Paul II and continuing with Benedict XVI, this "personal relationship" language has been definitively incorporated into the magisterium of the Church with great precision and intentionality, rooted in the very essense of the Trinity as relation.  As a result, I think one great fruit of Benedict's visit could become a strengthening of the conversations and ecumenical activities between Catholics and Evenaglicals, on the common ground of proclaiming the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
One more thought, which is connected to the "personal relationship with Jesus" theme.  It's not just a theme, it's a reality.  We must experience Jesus, or our "religion" becomes empty, perhaps hypocritical and pharisaic.  Nevertheless, that's not my point.  Fr. Cantalamessa preached soem Lenten homilies in the Papal Household.  His Good Friday homily had a fascinating paragraph.  I quote:
"From this we see that today there are 2 possible ecumenisms: an ecumenism of faith and an ecumenism of incredulity; one that unites all those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God, that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and that Christ died to save all humankind, and an ecumenism that unites all those who, in deference to the Nicene Creed, continue to proclaim these formulas but empty them of their content. It is an ecumenism in which, in its extreme form, everyone believes the same things because no one any longer believes anything, in the sense that “believing” has in the New Testament."
I think the Holy Father has taken this to heart.  He is seeking unity on the basis of those who beleive that Christ is the Son of God.  Fr. Cantalamessa goes on to say: "Sticking with this criterion, the fundamental distinction among Christians is not between Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants, but between those who believe that Christ is the Son of God and those who do not believe this."  Yeah, he's talking about beleiving what the creed teaches, but not just that.  He's talking about belief as a living personal encounter/relationship with Jesus Christ.  The creed is just the symbol of the reality which is the relationship with Christ.
I need to get back to work.


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