Oct 11 – Memorial for St John XXIII, Pope
Pope John XXIII born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was head of the Catholic Church and sovereign of the Vatican City State from 28 October 1958 until his death in 1963. Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli was one of thirteen children born to Marianna Mazzola and Giovanni Battista Roncalli in a family of sharecroppers who lived in Sotto il Monte, a village in the province of Bergamo, Lombardy. He was ordained to the priesthood on 10 August 1904 and served in a number of posts, as nuncio in France and a delegate to Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey. In a consistory on 12 January 1953 Pope Pius XII made Roncalli a cardinal as the Cardinal-Priest of Santa Prisca in addition to naming him as the Patriarch of Venice. Roncalli was unexpectedly elected pope on 28 October 1958 at age 76 after 11 ballots. Pope John XXIII surprised those who expected him to be a caretaker pope by calling the historic Second Vatican Council (1962–1965), the first session opening on 11 October 1962.
John XXIII made many passionate speeches during his pontificate. His views on equality were summed up in his statement, “We were all made in God’s image, and thus, we are all Godly alike.” He made a major impact on the Catholic Church, opening it up to dramatic unexpected changes promulgated at the Vatican Council and by his own dealings with other churches and nations. In Italian politics, he prohibited bishops from interfering with local elections, and he helped the Christian Democracy to cooperate with the Italian Socialist Party. In international affairs, his “Ostpolitik” engaged in dialogue with the communist countries of Eastern Europe. He especially reached out to the Eastern Orthodox churches. His overall goal was to modernize the Church by emphasizing its pastoral role, and its necessary involvement with affairs of state. He dropped the traditional rule of 70 cardinals, increasing the size to 85. He used the opportunity to name the first cardinals from Africa, Japan, and the Philippines. He promoted ecumenical movements in cooperation with other Christian faiths. In doctrinal matters, he was a traditionalist, but he ended the practice of automatically formulating social and political policies on the basis of old theological propositions
…what matters is faith that makes its power felt through love.
There had been a lot of inertia for me to be active in church. For the most part of these Covid years, I’ve just been a Sunday Catholic; in fact, it took me a long time to even start attending mass physically again, as we had grown so accustomed to online masses. Whenever I missed mass, I’d convince myself it is okay because of the dispensation that Sunday masses is not an obligation due to the pandemic. But I know that is merely following the letter rather than the spirit of the law.
With most Covid restrictions being lifted, it was possible again to resume physical sessions with church ministries. There was a call to serve in a 10-week programme, which consists of weekly small group sessions culminating in a weekend retreat. It felt like a considerable amount of time and commitment, which I was unsure if I was willing to give, but hesitantly agreed to anyway.
I started off the programme just going through the motions, with the mindset that I was there to just perform a duty rather than to gain anything from it. But HE always finds a way to speak to us when we are resistant or least expect it. Slowly through the weeks, I find myself relating to the various participants’ sharing and benefiting from them. It gave me a chance to feel connected to Him again through others.
Though I had so much hesitation in wanting to be a part of the programme, all I needed was the faith that He would see us through it. Pandemic or not, official dispensation to skip mass or not, at the core of it, we just need to respond with Christian love.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Kristel Wang)
Prayer: Dear Lord, we ask to be reminded of the reason why we are Christians, so that we may spread your Good News through our actions. Please grant us the strength to be examples of a loving follower of Christ.
Thanksgiving: Thank you Lord, for sending people to us to be your instruments. We know that you are always watching over us and that we just need to have faith and trust in you. Amen.