Gloria Olivae

To promote the messages of Pope Benedict XVI and harness small monastic Benedictine communities in his and the service of the Church.

Monday, May 14, 2007

THAT Small COMMUNITY

Pope Pius XII was once upon a time overwhelmed by the problems besetting the Church that he became withdrawn, which led him to live an heremitical life. He then promulgated "Provida Mater Ecclesia," encouraging lay secular institutes or third orders. This was how the Catholic Church begun: small groups, living the fulness of the Gospel in their homes, and eventually in the desert. They were all laymen. His enthusiasm blazed a trail that carried up to the time of the late Pope John Paul II and the present Pope Benedict.

Pope Benedict showed special interest in these small communities in his "Ratzinger Report," and even in his earliest writing "The Theology of History according to St. Bonaventure," his thesis when he was just a young priest. As newly-elected Pope, he mentioned about "a small Church" and after doing so, caricatures portraying him carrying a small "St. Peter"s Basilica, stressed his point. He expects a very small Catholic Church! How did he get that notion when news abound that the Church, especially in Africa, is growing?

Why should a Pope be interested in these small, new communities when Rome has already discouraged the establishing of new orders, presuming that the present, existing, approved Religious Orders were doing their jobs of fulfilling the needs of the Church? Perhaps because of one special characteristic common to them: these small lay communities usually acquire a deep and complete knowledge of the teachings of Christ through infused knowledge, without books or teachers, but simply by their way of life.

In the apocalypse, it is implied that the Church was once in the world and then, personified by the Woman, was transferred to the desert. Suddenly the Church had a new ambience: the members of the Church would learn the totality of the teachings of Christ in all its depths without human teachers. They would see the face of God without the need for books, lecturers, theological and catechetical centers. They would attain knowledge of God comparable to St. Thomas of Aquinas or St. Therese of Lisieux ...simply by their way of life.

St. Therese, in fact, is a typical example. Considering the few books she has read, she could not have described Charity as well as Pope Benedict did in "Deus Caritas Est" unless her knowledge was infused, attained through her way of life at home and perfected at Carmel. In her younger years, in a Benedictine school, she amazed the Abbe who called her "my little doctor of the Church." The recent publication of the writings of St. Bernadette Soubirous shows the same infused knowledge. So did Alphonse Ratisbonne, a Jewish convert, and Claude Newman, an illiterate Black slave who was converted and executed in prison. This is exactly like what happened at Pentecost, with the small community of apostles and disciples with Mary; and like the Apocalyptic woman with her children in the desert. Mary and the apostles were imbued with infused knowledge.

The first Christians knew this secret, and this is what drove them to the desert, like St. Antony the Hermit: to learn and worship God with full knowledge and love, foreshadowed by Israel's sojourn in the desert. It seems that Monasticism was that "small community."
Today, true monasticism, as envisioned by the Theology of Grace according to St. Paul, seem to have disappeared from the face of the earth, and attempts to renew it have been frustrating, just as De Rance's recent efforts to renew the Benedictines.
The first Christians knew this image from the Apocalypse. They lived according to that image of the Catholic Church in the desert. But through the centuries, the Christian world has forgotten how to live that life, and left the "Desert" for the busy cities -- the world, just as the Israelites desired to return to Egypt.
Today, a big portion of the Church have returned to Egypt. But Pope Benedict is looking for those still left in the Desert, aware perhaps that the invitation of the Woman of the Apocalypse for her children to join her there, has not ceased since Pentecost. And if this is so, then seminaries, theological and Catholic schools would be irrelevant. Only Scriptures and the writings of the Fathers of the Church would be needed for the members of that community to confirm what they already know. Because their knowledge would be infused, and there would be no danger of heresy, schism or apostasy. This would solve the present problem of learning our religion as if it were just another subject like Science.
Pope Benedict, because of his research on St. Bonaventure, knows that this "small community" is made up of unschooled children (to emphasize the supernaturalness of their infused knowledge and wisdom) who are imbued with profound knowledge of God and exceptional holiness. The existence of such communities is a thin golden chain in the history of the Church. They have always existed; and especially today, to prepare the world for the Parousia, according to the Benedictine Tradition, as noted by St. Louis de Montfort. They bear the stamp of the true Church: they are One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic; and beside this, they are Contemplative and Mystical. The Apocalypse mentions that there will be members of the Church out in the world, children of the Woman, especially chosen by God to stay on and work there in order to point to all where the Church is, in the Desert.
Perhaps aware that St. Benedict had succeeded in establishing such a community, (which explains our present Holy Father's predilection for the Benedictines), could it be that Pope Benedict has an inkling where to find that small community? There, wherein is found the fullness of Benedictine Life. This should narrow down his search. ("Pentecost" by Henri and Antoine Cibille, XVII centuy.)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

LIMBO - Pope Benedict's INSIGHT


1. We can never fully understand the teachings of Christ. We understand them gradually, thus the concept of the "Development of Doctrines." Our understanding depends on our Faith, Hope and Charity, but ultimately on the will of God who reveals or withholds truths from us. Many doctrines are implicit in Scriptures. But they are there.

2. Limbo is one concept God withheld for a while, since Repentance, Faith, Hope and Charity were more important. It does not matter how Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory look like. Christians are exhorted to focus and aim for heaven.

3. As with Heaven and Hell, we need Faith to believe in what we cannot see. Attempts to explain matters of Faith are fruitless. But we can only show their reasonableness when based on known truths.

4. The Fathers of the Church did not attempt to explain the mystery of the Blessed Trinity, but they wrote showing its reasonableness. And where ever the Fathers could not fully explain matters of Faith they depended on theological constructs, that is, attempts to make concepts rational.

5. But sometimes constructs can be unclear, and so sometimes seem unreasonable, as what happened with the construct on Limbo. But there is a way of clarifying unclear Evangelical concepts: consult directly the Author, God. We have heard of Saints, like St. Thomas of Aquinas, whose queries were answered by St. John the Evangelist and the Blessed Virgin.

6. Pope Benedict XVI must have 'consulted' St. Augustine who, now in Heaven, would know the truth about Limbo. Can you imagine a simpler way? Could this be what the Holy Father did in Pavia when he visited St. Augustine's tomb?

7.From the time of the early Church, Limbo has been described as a place where the Patriarchs, martyrs, heroes and saints of the Old Testament had to wait, before they could finally enter Heaven and receive their reward, till Christ has fulfilled the Father's Will to redeem man through His suffering and death. It wasn't Heaven. But considering that Christ "descended to the dead" before He resurrected, in order to open the gates and free those who were waiting for Him to accomplish His mission, it is welcome news that Pope Benedict has finally cleared up the matter which has been long overdue : Limbo no longer exists.

8.Why should it still exist? To continue believing that it still does would nullify the effect of Christ's death, which was to open to us the gates of Heaven. This is the reason also why Limbo had also been called the netherworld, for the righteous men of the Old Testament were kept apart from, and could not enter, Heaven till Christ has suffered and died. If the O.T. Fathers who had original sin and committed actual sins, venial or mortal sin, and repented of them, could go to Heaven, why could not unbaptized babies who had no actual sin? Among those whom Christ freed from Limbo when He "descended to the dead" was King David who committed adultery and repented of it. There is Mary Magdalene, also Demas the Good Thief. Would Christ have freed those Old Testament repentant grown- ups and bring them to Heaven and left behind innocent babies?

9.The Holy Innocents were so-called (Holy) because they were martyred for Christ. But they were naturally innocent before this, bearing the image and likeness of God, though tarnished by original sin, before they were slaughtered. If sinners could atone for so many sins and attain an immediate crown of glory with one blow for the sake of Christ, why should innocent babies, still in their pristine innocence, who had no chance to be baptized when they were slaughtered by their own parents who refuse to obey God rather than accept His Will, why should they be forever separated from the lot of repentant sinners who enjoy the beatific vision despite the sins they have committed, if indeed Limbo still exists?

10.When Christ said : "unless you become like children ..." "whatever you do to these little ones..." "he who welcomes them welcomes me ..." He was pointing at unbaptized children, setting them up as models for those who want to be His disciples. Did He say these to us only to encourage us go to Limbo? He would not have set them up as models for discipleship unless they were meant for Heaven. He also said "Do not prevent them from coming to Me ..." If God still holds Limbo in existence, where then is the truth about Him" .... Quae nec fallere, nec falli potest...?"

11.There is a purgatory wherein the "sins of the just" may be expiated before they eventually go to Heaven. If Limbo still exists, children who have never committed any sin will forever be denied Heaven. Such thought militates against both the mercy and justice of God. Would it not be more according to God's love if He were to rather send unbaptized innocents to purgatory and purge them of their original sin rather than forever cut them off from the vision of God by languishing in Limbo?

12.Come Judgment Day, there will only be Heaven and Hell as final rewards; even purgatory will be obsolete and would no longer exist. But think about those poor, unbaptized babies in Limbo, if God has not forever closed it!

13. The Beatific Vision is a gift of God. If He could freely give this to the patriarchs who have sinned, wouldn't he to unbaptized, innocent children, for whom He had always shown special tenderness?

14. All Christian doctrines must support each other like a jigsaw puzzle. Maintaining the present existence of Limbo does not fit into the doctrine of Divine Providence which states that God has made provisions to give all a chance to be saved. From this doctrine it is certain He made provisions for unbaptized children. His eternal imaginativeness will certainly find means to save them. ("Origin of the World," by Wiliam Blake, 1824.)

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