Tag Archives: Joseph Ratzinger

Enmity with God poisons

Enmity with God is the source of all that poisons man; overcoming this enmity is the basic condition for peace in the world. Only the man who is reconciled with God can also be reconciled and in harmony with himself, and only the man who is reconciled with God himself can establish peace around him and throughout the world.

But the political context that emerges from Luke’s infancy narrative as well as in Matthew’s Beatitudes indicates the full scope of these words. That there be peace on earth (cf Lk. 2:14) is the will of God and, for that reason, it is a task given to man as well.

The Christian knows that lasting peace is connected with men abiding in God’s eudokia, his “good pleasure.” The struggle to abide in peace with God is an indispensable part of the struggle for “peace on earth”; the former is the source of the criteria and the energy for the latter.

When men lose sight of God, peace disintegrates and violence proliferates to a formerly unimaginable degree of cruelty. This we see only too clearly today.

Joseph Ratzinger, Jesus of Nazareth

Sermon on the mount summons us

The sermon on the mount is a summons to follow Jesus Christ in discipleship. He alone is perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect (the demand reaching into the depths of one’s being in which the individual instructions of the sermon on the mount are condensed and united: Matt. 5:48). On our own we cannot be perfect, as our heavenly Father is perfect – but we must be to correspond to the task our nature lays upon us.

We cannot do this, but we can follow him, cling to him, become his. If we belong to him as his limbs or members, then through our participation we become what he is: his goodness becomes ours. What the father says in the parable of the prodigal son is realized in us: All that is mine is yours (Luke 15:31).

The moralism of the sermon on the mount that is all too stiff for us is brought together and transformed into communion with Jesus, into being a disciple of Jesus; in clinging fast to our relationship to him, in friendship with him and in confidence in him.

To Look On Christ
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger

Pope Paul VI remembered for a faith that is open

The Venerable Servant of God Pope Paul VI died on this day in 1978, the Feast of the Transfiguration. He was the Roman Pontiff for 15 years. Notable in his pontificate were several events: the closing of the Second Vatican Council, the erection of the created a Secretariat for non-Christians, later renamed the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the publication of 7 encyclicals including the most contentious of the 20th century, Humane Vitae, the mutual lifting of the ex communications between Rome and Constantinople (Patriarch Athenagoras) and the meeting with Pope Shenouda III (of Egypt) resolving Christological differences, the meeting with Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury, plus he held 6 consistories that created 143 cardinals. The reform of the sacred Liturgy is likely the one enduring bone of contention that gets lots of people riled up to this day.

It must be said in my opinion, not all the problems that Paul faced were of his making. Society was haywire which adversely affected the Church in all quadrants.

Back in June the Vatican newspaper published a translation of a homily likely never read in English by many Americans given to honor the deceased Pontiff by the cardinal-archbishop of Munich, Joseph Ratzinger.

In a homily given by Joseph Ratzinger recalling Pope Paul VI, he said, “the transfiguration promised by the faith as the transformation of man is above all a journey of purification, a journey of suffering. Paul VI accepted his papal service increasingly as a transformation of faith in suffering. The last words of the Risen Lord to Peter, after constituting him as the Shepherd of his flock, were: “when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (Jn 21:18).  It was a reference to the cross awaiting Peter  at the end of his journey. It was, in general, a reference to the nature of this service. Paul VI let himself be lead more and more where as a human being he did not want to go alone. More and more the pontificate meant for him wearing the cloth of another, being nailed to the cross. (…) He gave new value to authority as service, bearing it as suffering. He took no pleasure in power, in position, in a successful career; and it was precisely because of this, his dutiful authority – ‘they will lead you where you do not want to go’ – became great and credible. Paul VI  carried out his service by faith. From this derived  both his firmness and his willingness to compromise. For both he was criticized, and some comments after his death were even in bad taste.  But today a Pope who  isn’t criticized  would be failing to carry out his duty to this age.  Paul VI resisted the intense scrutiny of the media, the powers of the day. He could do this because he didn’t consider success and approval the measure of truth and faith, but rather his conscience.

Those who met him in his last years were able to experience directly his extraordinary transformation in faith, its transfiguring power. One could see how much the man, who by his nature was an intellectual, surrendered himself day after day to Christ, how he let himself be changed, transformed, purified by him, and  how this made him ever more free, ever more profound, good, perceptive and simple.

Faith is a death, but it is also a metamorphosis for entering into authentic life, towards transfiguration. In Pope Paul one could see all this. Faith gave him courage. Faith gave him goodness. And in him it was also clear that a faith of conviction is not closed but open. In the end, our memory will treasure the image of a man who held out his hands. He was the first Pope to have travelled to all the continents, fixing in this way an itinerary of the Spirit, which began in Jerusalem, the centre of meeting and of parting of the three great monotheistic religions; then his journey to the United Nations, to Geneva, his meeting with humanity’s greatest non-monotheistic religious cultures, India, and his pilgrimage to the people who suffer in Latin America, in Africa, in Asia. Faith holds out its hands. Its sign is not a fist, but an open hand”.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
1978 homily for Pope Paul VI
L’Osservatore Romano
21 June 2013

Windows into Heaven –Knights of Columbus Museum exhibits Russian icons

I am always looking for the way heaven touches earth. Perhaps you are, too. The image that comes to mind is the finger of God touching that of Adam in a painting done by Michelangelo. I also recall that the Incarnation is a manifestation of the beauty of heaven touching the ordinariness of earth and making our existence forever beautiful. These are some thoughts on an experience of “Windows into Heaven: Russian Icons and Treasures” at the Knights of Columbus Museum (New Haven, CT). Though the icons aren’t in their original liturgical context, they nonetheless open the heart and mind onto something and someone beautiful. The icons, for me, are more than nice pieces of Christian art; they truly are positions of grace that allow my desires to be opened anew by an experience with the Divine Majesty. There is an emphasis here on the personal relationship we have with the Trinity. To say otherwise is to neglect a piece of your humanity because the beauty of the icon does invite us to a different way of living the faith.

kofc icon collage.jpg

I was just reading an address of Cardinal Ratzinger on beauty. An amazing act of the Spirit to allow me to see the icons and then reflect with Ratzinger on the experience. He had addressed the annual meeting organized by members of Communion and Liberation in August 2002. A paragraph sticks out:


To admire the icons and the great masterpieces of Christian art in general, leads us on an inner way, a way of overcoming ourselves; thus in this purification of vision that is a purification of the heart, it reveals the beautiful to us, or at least a ray of it. In this way we are brought into contact with the power of the truth. I have often affirmed my conviction that the true apology of Christian faith, the most convincing demonstration of its truth against every denial, are the saints, and the beauty that the faith has generated. Today, for faith to grow, we must lead ourselves and the persons we meet to encounter the saints and to enter into contact with the Beautiful.

Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger

“The Feeling of Things, the Contemplation of Beauty”

Rimini Meeting 2002


Take the time this summer to visit the KofC Museum and be inspired! Allow yourself to be wounded by beauty, as Ratzinger said.

3 poses of Ratzinger

3 poses of Ratzinger.jpg

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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