According to the Nicene Creed, the first of the distinguishing marks of the Catholic Church is unity. Without unity, things tend to fall apart: societies collapse, families fight, and friendships evaporate.
Over the course of history the Church has undergone a multitude of developments and faced its share of difficulties threatening unity. Jesus Christ prayed that despite the conflicts the church would face, unity would persist through the office of the papacy. Guided by the power of the Holy Spirit all successors to the original “rock” of the Church, the Apostle St. Peter, provide stability and direction to the faithful. While I have been blessed with to live witness the tail end of the prominent papacy of St. John Paul II, I recently made an effort to acquaint myself with former pontiffs from the 20th century. Most recently, I learned more about the wondrous, albeit brief, papacy of the St. John XXIII.
Two words immediately come to mind with I think of Pope St. John XXIII—jolliness and unity! He was a joyfully individual whose papacy promoted greater unity for all mankind. The Italian pope declared, “The whole world is my family.” While at face value, this appears to be a simple and unimpressive statement, looking at the human conflicts currently existing in the world today and throughout history, we suddenly realize that disunity is part and parcel of human nature. Opening the world to the Catholic Church via the initiation of the Second Vatican Council, John XXIII invited humanity in a chance assess the spiritual graces housed in the Catholic Church.
I am grateful to have discovered the positivity, and harmonious message of the pope of the Second Vatican Council. Below are several insightful and uplifting words from St. John XXII we can reflect on for the rest of the week!
“I want to throw open the windows of the Church so that we can see out and the people can see in.”
“Before everything else, fidelity to the Church: One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic. Jesus did not found several churches, but one single Church.”
“O Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, I would like to be filled with love for You; keep me closely united with You, may my heart be near to Yours. I want to be to You like the apostle John. O Mary of the Rosary, keep me recollected when I say these prayers of yours; bind me forever, with your rosary, to Jesus of the Blessed Sacrament. Blessed be Jesus, my love.”
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