From Time to Time 2005
This is a day when I had hoped to be in Germany, to help welcome the new Holy Father and to join our young people in cheering him. But a slight fever and the ordination this week of Bishop Madden here in Baltimore led me to stay here.
There is plenty to applaud in Pope Benedict’s visit to Germany and World Youth Day. His bridge-building meetings with the enthusiastic young people, and with Jews, Muslims, and other Christians – all these gave him a chance to show how he is following the way of Pope John Paul II. But there is something more: he is himself, relaxed, smiling, happy to be with the youth and, at the same time, to say something substantial to everyone.
To the youth he spoke in English Saturday evening of the “mysterious Magi from the East” who had to change their ideas about power when they came to the crib of the new-born Christ. “Now they were able to see that God’s power is not like that of the powerful of this world. God’s ways are not as we imagine them or as we might wish them to be. … God did not send twelve legions of angels to assist Jesus in the Garden (cf. Matthew 26:53) He contrasts the noisy and ostentatious power of this world with the defenseless power of love, which succumbs to death on the Cross, and dies ever anew throughout history; yet is this same love which constitutes the new divine intervention that opposes injustice and ushers in the Kingdom of God. God is different – this is what they now come to realize. And it means that they themselves must now become different, they must learn God’s ways.”
On Sunday morning the Holy Father met with more than a million young people for the celebration of the great World Youth Day Mass. In his homily, he told them about the Last Supper, when the Church was given a new prayer to bring “the Eucharist into being.” It is the word of power which transforms the gifts of the earth in an entirely new way into God’s gift of Himself and it draws us into this process of transformation. That is why we call this action ‘Eucharist,’ which is a translation of the Hebrew word beracha – thanksgiving, praise, blessing, and a transformation worked by the Lord: the presence of His “hour.” Jesus’s hour is the hour in which love triumphs. In other words, it is God who has triumphed, because He is Love.
“Jesus’ hour seeks to become our own hour and will indeed become so if we allow ourselves, through the celebration of the Eucharist, to be drawn into that process of transformation that the Lord intends to bring about. The Eucharist must become the center of our lives….”
Pope Benedict continued, emphasizing the importance of participating in the Eucharist each Sunday. “On Easter morning, first the women and then the disciples had the grace of seeing the Lord. From that moment on, they knew that the first day of the week, Sunday, would be His day, the day of Christ the Lord…. It is good that today, in many cultures, Sunday is a free day, and is often combined with Saturday so as to constitute a “week-end” of free time. Yet this free time is empty if God is not present. Dear friends! Sometimes, our initial impression is that having to include time for Mass on a Sunday is rather inconvenient. But if you make the effort, you will realize that this is what gives a proper focus to your free time…”
The Holy Father invites us to learn how “the Eucharist releases the joy that we need so much, and we must learn to grasp it ever more deeply, we must learn to love it.”
Among those who heard the Holy Father’s profound statements were the many young people who traveled from the Archdiocese of Baltimore. While I missed sharing the firsthand experiences of their spiritual pilgrimage, I enjoyed reading their own accounts on our archdiocesan web site and in the Catholic Review. I was impressed to read how deeply many were touched by both the Holy Father’s presence and that of youth from around the world. Their presence and the accounts of their journey bore out what I have recognized for many years: our young people are enthusiastic and unapologetic about their commitment to God and to the Catholic Church.
To read the reflections of many of our young people from Cologne, I urge you to visit our archdiocesan web site, www.archbalt.org.
Brother Roger of Taize
This past week brought the sad news of the assassination of Brother Roger Schutz, founder of the ecumenical community of Taize. He was a most esteemed observer at the Second Vatican Council, when I first had the privilege of meeting him. Three years ago, with two priest friends, we met again at Taize. We concluded the visit as we knelt with him to recite the prayer, Hail Holy Queen in Latin and exchange blessings.
In 1940, when he was 25, Brother Roger left Switzerland, the land of his birth, and went to live in France, his mother’s country. For years, he felt the call to found a religious community in which reconciliation between Christians would be fostered, a community “in which the benevolence of heart would be lived very concretely, and where love would be in everyone’s heart.” The Brothers who joined him on Easter Sunday 1949 committed themselves for life to celibacy, life in common, and great simplicity of life. Today, according to Brother Emile, spokesman for the Community, the Community of Taize includes some 100 Brothers, Catholics and of different evangelical origins, from more than 25 countries. He adds, “Because of their own experience, they are a concrete sign of reconciliation between divided Christians and separated people.”
The Eucharist is celebrated separately by Catholics and Evangelicals, but the rest of their life is a common one.
In the general audience before he left for Cologne, the Holy Father noted that, just the day before, he had received a letter from Brother Roger affirming that “our Community of Taize wants to walk in communion with the Holy Father.” Pope Benedict said, “Brother Schutz is in the hands of eternal goodness, of eternal love, he had arrived at eternal joy.”