The world awaits us. Yes! We love the world passionately because God has taught us to: Sic Deus dilexit mundum… — God so loved the world. And we love it because it is there that we fight our battles in a most beautiful war of charity, so that everyone may find the peace that Christ has come to establish.
The Lord has shown us this refinement of Love: he has let us conquer the world for him.
He is always so humble that he has wished to limit himself to making it possible… To us He has granted the easiest and most agreeable part: taking action and gaining the victory.
The world… “That is our field!” you said, after directing your eyes and thoughts to heaven, with all the assurance of the farmer who walks through his own ripe corn. Regnare Christum volumus! — we want Him to reign over this earth of his!
“It is a time of hope, and I live off this treasure. It is not just a phrase, Father,” you tell me, “it is a reality.”
Well then… bring the whole world, all the human values which attract you so very strongly — friendship, the arts, science, philosophy, theology, sport, nature, culture, souls — bring all of this within that hope: the hope of Christ.
That insubstantial and pleasure-giving enchantment of the world — so constant. The flowers by the wayside — you are attracted by their colour and the air is scented with them; the birds of the air; creatures, all of them…
—My poor son: it is quite reasonable. For, if you were not fascinated by it all, what sacrifice would you be able to offer Our Lord?
Your Christian vocation requires you to be in God and, at the same time, to be concerned with the things of the earth, using them objectively, just as they are: to give them back to Him.
It seems incredible that one could be so happy in this world, where so many are bent on leading sad lives because they follow their own selfishness, as if everything came to an end down here!
—Don’t you be one of them… rectify your intention all the time!
The world is cold and seems to be asleep. —You often look on it, from your vantage point, with a glance that would set it on fire. Lord, may it awaken!
—Channel your bursts of impatience and be sure that if we manage to keep our whole life alight, we shall set every corner of the world alight, and the way it all looks will change.
The faithfulness — in the service of God and souls — which I always ask you for, is not the easy type of enthusiasm. It is the enthusiasm you can acquire in the middle of the street, when you see how much there is to be done everywhere.
A good son of God has to be very human. But not to such an extent that he becomes uncouth and bad-mannered.
It is difficult to make our mark through quiet work and the proper fulfilment of our duties as citizens, so that later we can demand our rights and place them in the service of the Church and of society.
It is difficult… but it is very effective.
It is not true that there is opposition between being a good Catholic and serving civil society faithfully. In the same way there is no reason why the Church and the State should clash when they proceed with the lawful exercise of their respective authorities, in fulfilment of the mission God has entrusted to them.
Those who affirm the contrary are liars, yes, liars! They are the same people who honour a false liberty, and ask us Catholics “to do them the favour” of going back to the catacombs.
Your task as a Christian citizen is to help see Christ’s love and freedom preside over all aspects of modern life: culture and the economy, work and rest, family life and social relations.
A son of God cannot entertain class prejudice, for he is interested in the problems of all men. And he tries to help solve them with the justice and charity of Our Redeemer.
The Apostle already pointed it out when he wrote that the Lord is no respecter of persons. I have not hesitated to translate his words thus: there is only one race of men, the race of the children of God!
Worldly men go out of their way to make souls lose God as soon as possible; and then, make them lose the world. They do not love this world of ours. They exploit it by trampling over others!
—I really do hope you too won’t fall victim to this double swindle!
Some people feel embittered all the time. Everything makes them uneasy. They go to sleep with a physical obsession: that this sleep, the only possible escape, is not going to last very long. They wake up with the unwelcome and disheartening feeling that they now have another day in front of them.
Many have forgotten that the Lord has placed us in the world on our way to eternal happiness. They do not realise that only those who walk on earth with the joy of the children of God will be able to attain it.
Through your behaviour as a Christian citizen, show people the difference between living sadly and living cheerfully; between being timid and being daring; between acting cautiously, with duplicity — hypocritically — and acting as men of simplicity and integrity. In a word, between being worldly and being children of God.
A fundamental error against which you must be on guard is to think that the noble and just customs and needs of your times and environment cannot be directed and accommodated to the holiness of the moral teaching of Jesus Christ.
Notice that I have specified that the customs and needs should be “noble and just”. The other ones lack the right to be adopted by citizens.
Religion cannot be separated from life, either in theory or in daily reality.
Far away on the horizon heaven seems to meet the earth. Do not forget that where heaven and earth really meet is in your heart of a child of God.
We cannot simply fold our arms when a subtle persecution condemns the Church to die of starvation, putting it outside the sphere of public life, and above all obstructing its part in education, culture and family life.
These are not our rights; they are God’s rights. He has entrusted them to us Catholics so that we may exercise them!
Many things, whether they be material, technical, economic, social, political or cultural… when left to themselves, or left in the hands of those who lack the light of the faith, become formidable obstacles to the supernatural life. They form a sort of closed shop which is hostile to the Church.
You, as a Christian and, perhaps, as a research worker, writer, scientist, politician or labourer… have the duty to sanctify those things. Remember that the whole universe — as the Apostle says — is groaning as in the pangs of labour, awaiting the liberation of the children of God.
You should not want to make the world into a cloister, because this would be a disorder. But don’t convert the Church into some earthly faction either, because that would be tantamount to treason.
How sad it is to have a Caesarist mentality, and not to understand the freedom other citizens enjoy in the things God has left to the free choice of men.
“Who said that to reach sanctity, you need to seek refuge in a cell or on a solitary mountain?” That was what a good family man asked himself in amazement, and he added: “If that were so, it would not be the people who would be holy, but the cell, or the mountain. It seems they have forgotten that Our Lord expressly told each and every one of us: be holy as my heavenly Father is holy.”
—My only comment was: “Our Lord, besides wanting us to be saints, grants each one of us the relevant graces.”
Love your own country: it is a Christian virtue to be patriotic. But if patriotism becomes nationalism, which leads you to look at other people, at other countries, with indifference, with scorn, without Christian charity and justice, then it is a sin.
It is not patriotism to justify crimes… or to deny the rights of other peoples.
The Apostle also wrote that “there is no more Gentile and Jew, no more circumcised and uncircumcised; no one is barbarian or Scythian, no one is a slave or a free man; there is nothing but Christ in any of us.”
Those words are as valid today as they were then. Before the Lord there is no difference of nation, race, class, state… Each one of us has been born in Christ to be a new creature, a son of God. We are all brothers, and we have to behave fraternally towards one another!
Many years ago now, I saw most clearly a truth which will always be valid: the whole web of society needs a new way of living and spreading the eternal truths of the Gospel, since it has departed from Christian faith and morals. Children of God at the very heart of that society, of the world, have to let their virtues shine out like lamps in the darkness — quasi lucernae lucentes in caliginoso loco.
The perennial vitality of the Catholic Church ensures that the truth and spirit of Christ do not become remote from the different needs of the times.
To follow in Christ’s footsteps, today’s apostle does not need to reform anything, but even less has he to take no part in the contemporary affairs going on around him. —He has only to act as the first Christians did, and give life to his environment.
You live in the middle of the world and you are just another citizen living in contact with men who say they are good or bad. You must always want to give other people the happiness you enjoy as a Christian.
A decree went out from the Emperor Augustus, enjoining that all the inhabitants of Israel should be registered. Mary and Joseph made their way to Bethlehem. —Has it ever occurred to you that the Lord made use of the exact acceptance of a law to fulfil his prophecy?
Love and respect the norms of behaviour required for living in amity. Have no doubt, either, that your loyal submission to duty can be the means for others to discover Christian integrity, which is the fruit of divine love, and to find God.