Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By F. K. Bartels

3/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The election of Pope Francis reminds the world of the permanency of the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ, who is himself the unchanging light of humanity (Heb 13:8; Jn 1:4).

Whole civilizations have appeared and vanished, wars have begun and ended, but the Church remains, moving ahead along a timeline that stretches not simply into the future but into unending, blessed communion with God. Mother Church has but "a single intention: that God's kingdom may come, and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass" (GS 45). The means of that salvation is Jesus Christ. Our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, takes up the helm of the Church and, as so many who have gone before, proclaims with constancy the primary message of the living community of the Church: Jesus the Christ.

Highlights

By F. K. Bartels

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

3/19/2013 (1 year ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, election of pope, Catholic Church, Church, papacy, divine institution of the Church, Church founded by Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ, F. K. Bartels


GLADE PARK, CO (Catholic Online) -- When the Cardinal proto-deacon Jean-Louis Tauran stepped onto the balcony of Saint Peter's Basilica on March 13, and proclaimed Habemus Papam! "We have a Pope!" the permanent and changeless nature of the Church of Jesus Christ was once again boldly and beautifully presented to the world. With those words, which in fact echo back to a divinely ordained and instituted event twenty centuries ago, Christians of all nations and every state of life are reminded once again that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8). At present, Pope Francis stands as a visible sign of that permanency.

While our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ did not exclaim Habemus Papam! in the early first century A.D., he nevertheless installed St. Peter as earthly head of the Church and leader of the apostles, giving to him the keys to the kingdom and the powers to bind and loose (see Mt. 16:17-19). In doing so, the Son of God set into motion his plan to form an organic, divine and human institution of hierarchical structure whose purpose would be as an instrument of the will of the Father in bringing salvation to humankind. This plan, in fact, was born from eternity in the heart of the Father, whose superabundant love unceasingly calls humankind to himself.

The divine institution of the Church was completed by Christ's sacrificial death on the cross, when, giving of himself completely, he poured forth his sacred blood and spoke the last word: "It is finished" (Jn 19:30). From the side of the crucified Christ came the "wondrous sacrament of the whole Church" (Sacrosanctum Concilium 5).

After Jesus was resurrected, the eleven disciples went to the mountain in Galilee, where Jesus appeared to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt. 28:18-20). While this happened long ago, it continues into the present. The Catholic Church has been continually fulfilling that commandment through the guidance of the Holy Spirit for twenty centuries; all the while under the earthly direction of the Vicar of Christ.

That the election of a pope is nothing new is clear. Nevertheless, it is interesting how an important event in the life of the Church, such as the election of Pope Francis, commands the world's attention -- albeit temporarily. For hours or days, the world turns its curious gaze on the Church; it wonders about what it views as the mysterious inner workings of the institutional Church; it ponders what happens behind closed doors and what, if anything, it all means in the grand scheme of things when the white smoke rises. Perhaps the world's fickle curiosity is momentarily captured by the "newness" of the event; because it is but one more "story" to be promulgated by the media and fed to the "informational vacuum" of the modern world. But there is more to it than that. Why does the world look to the Church? The simple answer is that in a real way the Church is Jesus Christ, who is himself the light of humanity (Jn 1:4). The world cannot long remain completely disinterested in such a reality, even if it fails to grasp it. 

The fact is, the Church means not merely something but everything to the world because she is the Father's plan for humanity. "The Church does not only communicate divine life to man but in some way casts the reflected light of that life over the entire earth, most of all by its healing and elevating impact on the dignity of the person" (Gaudium et Spes 40). The Church is not merely a human institution, but rather a total and unique divine and human community, with a singularly indispensable and unparalleled contribution to make.

Mother Church has but "a single intention: that God's kingdom may come, and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass" (GS 45). This intention is God's intention; it is the Father's salvific plan for his children for which his only Son died; it speaks to the destiny of humanity. Who would not be interested in the Church? Further, who would not want to enter fully and completely into this wondrous, holy community destined for eternal and blessed communion with God?

The 265th successor of St. Peter, Pope Francis, a pope of simplicity and humility, continues, as so many who have gone before him, to beckon humankind into the womb of the Church. Today, the day of salvation (2 Cor 6:2), he steers the Bride of Christ into the future as he invites humanity itself to embrace the promise of divine life by becoming one with Christ in the arms of mother Church. In doing so, our new Holy Father calls us to live out the life of the Church and become instruments of the glory of Jesus Christ, something which is made possible through a confession of faith in Jesus Christ, Savior of the world:

"When we do not confess Jesus Christ," said Pope Francis in his first homily, "I am reminded of the words of Léon Bloy: 'Whoever does not pray to the Lord, prays to the devil.' When we do not confess Jesus Christ, we confess the worldliness of the devil, the worldliness of the demon." 

The First Letter of St. John reminds us that anyone who claims to follow Jesus yet denies he is the Christ is a liar and the antichrist (2:22). If we desire the eternal life offered by the Father through his Son, we must confess Jesus the Christ.

The words in the first homily of our Holy Father also remind us of the words of St. Peter himself. Jesus had asked his disciples: "But who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16:15). Peter responded: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (v. 16). In making this confession, Peter is called "blessed" (v. 17). In speaking about confessing Jesus Christ, Pope Francis, while yet a new pope, becomes ancient as he is linked to the chief shepherd of the apostles and the Church of two-thousand years hence.

To confess Christ is to give oneself entirely over to the Person of Jesus Christ, to believe all that he has said and done, entering fully into the mystery of his life. In doing so, we become one with him; by the gift of faith and in virtue of the sacrament of Baptism, we become members of his one body, the Church. That in itself is the meaning of being Catholic: to be totally united with Jesus Christ now and forever.

"I would like for us all," continued the Holy Father, "after these days of grace, to have courage, precisely the courage to walk in the Lord's presence, with the cross of the Lord; to build the Church upon the blood of the Lord, which was poured out on the cross; and to confess the only glory there is: Christ crucified. And in this way the Church will go forward."

Yes. It is in Christ crucified that the community of the Church draws her life breath. She will go forward because Christ poured out his blood for her, giving her life, and promised to be with her always (Mt 28:19-20); she will continue with permanency because God's kingdom shall forever stand (Dan 2:44); she bears the marks of unity and solidity because the Holy Spirit is her soul, whose unceasing guidance bonds her as a community in the fullness of truth (Jn 14:16, 26; 16:13); and she will walk forward because the flock of Christ has, once again as with St. Peter, been given a chief shepherd (Jn 21:17): The Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis. Habemus Papam! "We have a Pope!"

The Church will go forward as she always has, unwaveringly and unceasingly proclaiming Christ crucified with constancy and permanency. Whole civilizations have appeared and vanished, wars have begun and ended, but the Church remains, moving ahead along a timeline that stretches not simply into the future but into an eternity filled with the indescribable glory of unending, blessed communion with God. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, is a sign of the singular continuity, unity, solidity and permanency that can nowhere else be found, for the Church is not "something," but Someone who "is the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Hebrews 13:8).

-----

F. K. Bartels is a Catholic writer who knows the Catholic Church transmits the fullness of truth and offers the fullest means of salvation; therefore his Catholic Faith is one of the greatest gifts a man could ever receive. He is a contributing writer for Catholic Online. Visit him also at joyintruth.com

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for September 2014
Mentally disabled:
That the mentally disabled may receive the love and help they need for a dignified life.
Service to the poor: That Christians, inspired by the Word of God, may serve the poor and suffering.



Comments


More Living Faith

Pope Francis asks new bishops to avoid self-promotion, to love their congregations instead Watch

Image of Pope Francis meets with bishops for an audience. The Holy Father had important advice for a group of new bishops yesterday.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis has admonished a new generation of bishops against seeking promotion and instead asked them to look after and love their congregations. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - During an address at the Vatican yesterday, Pope Francis spoke to 138 ... continue reading


POPE IN ALBANIA: Pope Francis denounces religious militants during one-day trip Watch

Image of On his first trip as pope to a European country outside of Italy, Pope Francis made no direct reference to Islamic State militants who have seized territory in Syria and Iraq.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his one-day trip to the chiefly Muslim nation of Albania, Pope Francis soundly denounced religious militants, declaring that no one act as the "armor of God." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Let no one consider themselves the 'armor' of God while planning ... continue reading


If Christ Has Not Been Raised Our Preaching and Our Faith is Empty Watch

Image of We too,you and me, will be raised from the dead. Only then will our redemption be complete. We are works in progress. However, that new life can begin even now for those with eyes of living faith, hearts filled with His presence, and minds renewed by the Light of the Truth which Jesus has fully revealed and imparts to those who love and follow Him.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

When we learn to embrace the implications of that empty tomb, and allow grace to work within us, we are made ready for eternity - by living differently every day. The Resurrection provides a framework, a hermeneutic, a lens of meaning, for everything that happens ... continue reading


You Go Into the Vineyard Too! Every Christian Has a Vocation Watch

Image of Priesthood, Diaconate in Christ,consecrated or religious life,lay ecclesial movements, consecrated Christian marriage - every Baptized Christian has a vocation. We just have to learn to live it!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

The Church is a seed, sign and beginning of the kingdom, making the kingdom present in a world which is wounded by the effects of sin but waiting to be born anew. The Lord continues His work through us. We are the workers in His vineyard. It matters little what ... continue reading


Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by Islamic State Watch

Image of There was an assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II in 1981 by Turk Mehmet Ali Agca. That Pope later forgave his attacker.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis at risk of an assassination attempt by ISIL'Band of criminals' could have Pope Francis in its sights prior to his visits to Albania, TurkeyCatholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)Iraq's ambassador to the Holy See warns that there are credible threats against ... continue reading


Patriarchs ask faithful to help 'save Christianity in the Middle East' Watch

Image of Syriac Catholic Patriarch Ignace Joseph III Younan prayed during an ecumenical service in Washington last week.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Five Catholic and Orthodox patriarchs from the Middle East urged Westerners to take action to help ensure that Christians and other minorities can remain in the region. "Christians are not (just) looking for humanitarian aid. They are looking for humanitarian ... continue reading


With just six months to live, news anchorman finds comfort with God Watch

Image of Dave Benton announced on his Illinois show that he had only six months left to live after a long battle with brain cancer.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An Illinois news anchorman with Champaign WCIA-TV shared heartbreaking news with his viewers on September 11, revealing that after a lengthy battle with cancer, he had only six months to live. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 51-year-old anchorman, Dave ... continue reading


Did a Catholic Online candle contribute to a miracle? Here's a yes!

Image of Did a prayer candle have a role in a recent miracle?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online has received many comments thanking us for sharing the prayers of the faithful. Catholic Online has a vibrant prayer community and we are happy to report another miracle. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Mika T.* sent an email to Catholic Online ... continue reading


Pope Francis denounces ongoing global conflict as 'piecemeal' World War III Watch

Image of Pope Francis, who has often condemned the concept of war in God's name, said it would be legitimate for the international community to use force to stop

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In his visit to the Redipuglia monument, the resting place of 1000,000 Italian soldiers killed during World War I, Pope Francis condemned ongoing conflicts across the globe. "Humanity needs to weep and this is the time to weep. Even today, after the second ... continue reading


Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas on the Exaltation of the Holy Cross Watch

Image of Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas, Ph.D., S.T.D. is the Executive Director of the Catholic Education Foundation.

By Fr Peter M. J. Stravinskas,Ph.D., S.T.D.

Every cross borne by any believer in history gains meaning and becomes life-giving when it is brought into a relationship with the Cross, the Cross from which Jesus reigned as the King of Love and over which He triumphed in His glorious Resurrection.  The ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Proverbs 3:27-34
27 Refuse no kindness to those who have a right to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 15:2-3, 3-4, 5
2 Whoever lives blamelessly, who acts uprightly, who ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 8:16-18
16 'No one lights a lamp to cover it with a bowl or ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 22nd, 2014 Image

St. Thomas of Villanueva
September 22: Augustinian bishop. Born at Fuentellana, Castile, Spain, he was ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter