Still on retreat at Castel Gandolfo
Sunday, August 13: The practice of prudence by the Pope and by the Bishops
FAITH, hope and charity are the three stars of the episcopal glory. The Pope as the head and as an example, and the Bishops, all the Bishops of the Church, with
The sublime work. holy and divine, which the Pope must do for the whole Church. and which the Bishops must do each in his own diocese, is to preach the Gospel and guide men to their eternal salvation, and all must take care not to let any other earthly business prevent or impede or disturb this primary task.
The impediment may most easily arise from human judgments in the political sphere, which arc diverse and contradictory according to the various ways of thinking and feeling. The Gospel is far above these opinions and parties. which agitate and disturb social life and all mankind.
The Pope reads it and with his Bishops comments on it; and all. without trying to further any worldly interests. must inhabit that city of peace, undisturbed and blessed. whence descends the divine law which can rule in wisdom over the earthly city and the whole world.
In fact. this is what wise men expect from the Church. this and nothing else.
My conscience is tranquil about my conduct as _newly elected Pope during these first three years, and so my mind is at peace, and I beg the Lord always to help me to keep faith with this good beginning.
It is very important to inSist that all the Bishops should act in the same way : may the Pope's example be a lesson and an encouragement to them all. The Bishops are more exposed to the temptation of meddling immoderately in matters that are not their concern. and it is for this reason that the Pope must admonish them not to take part in any political or controversial question and not to declare for one section or faction rather than .another.
They are to preach to all alike, and in general terms, justice, charity, humility, meekness, gentleness and the other evan gelical virtues, courteously defending the rights of the Church when these are violated or compromised.
But at all times and especially just now, the Bishop must apply the balm of sweetness to the wounds of mankind. He must beware of making any rash judgment or uttering any abusive words about anyone, or letting himself be betrayed into flattery by threats, or in any way c.onniving with evil in the hope that by so doing he may be useful to someone: his manner must be grave, reserved and firm. while in his relations with others he must always be gentle and loving, yet at the same time always ready to point out what is good and what is evil, with the help of sacred doctrine but without any vehemence.
Any effort or intrigue of a purely . human nature is worth very little in these questions of worldly interest.
Instead. he must with more assiduous and fervent prayer earnestly seek to promote divine worship among the faithful, with religious practices, frequent use of the sacraments, well taught and well administered. and above all he must encourage religious instructions because this also will help to solve problems of the merely temporal order, and do so much better than ordinary human measures can.
This will draw down divine blessings on the people, preserving them from many evils and recalling minds that have strayed from the right path.
Still Sunday, August 13: Ideas for a good apostolate
Everyone must be treated with respect, prudence and evangelical simplicity.
It is commonly believed and considered fitting that even the everyday language of the Pope should be full of mystery and awe. But the example of Jesus is more closely followed in the most appealing simplicity, not dissociated from the God-given prudence of wise and holy men.
Wiseacres may show disrespect, if not scorn, for the simple man. But those wiseacres are of no account; even if their opinions and conduct inflict some humiliations, no notice should be taken of them at all : in the end everything ends in their defeat and confusion.
The "simple, upright, Godfearing man" is always the worthiest and the strongest. Naturally he must always be sustained by a wise and gracious prudence. He is a simple man who is not ashamed to profess the Gospel, even in the face of men who consider it to be nothing but weakness and childish nonsense, and to profess it entirely, on all occasions, and in the presence"of all; he does not let himself be deceived or prejudiced by his fellows, nor does he lose his peace of mind, however they may treat him.
The prudent man is he who knows how to keep silent about that part of the truth that it would be inopportune to declare, provided that this silence does not affect the truth he utters by gainsaying it; the man who knows how to achieve his own good purpose, choosing the most effective means of willing and doing; who, in all circumstances. can foresee and measure the difficulties set before him, and knows how to choose the middle way which presents fewer difficulties and dangers; the man who, having chosen a good, or even a great and noble objective, never loses sight of it but manages to overcome all obstacles and see it through to the end.
Such a man in every question distinguishes the substance from the accidentals; he does not allow himself to be hampered by the latter, but concentrates and directs all his energies to a successful conclusion; he looks to God alone, in whom he trusts. and this trust is the foundation of all he does. Even if he does not succeed, in all or in part, he knows he has done well, by referring everything to the will and greater glory of God.
Simplicity contains nothing contrary to prudence, and the converse also is true. Simplicity is love: prudence is thought. Love prays: the intelligence keeps watch. "Watch and pray": a perfect harmony. Love is like the cooing dove; the active intelligence is like the snake that never falls to the ground or bruises itself. because before it glides along it .first probes with its head to test the unevenness of the ground.
No matter how much events seem to be working against the good of the Church I must preserve a perfect tranquillity, which however will not dispense me from grieving and from imploring that "Thy will be done on earth, as it is in Heaven".
I must beware of the audacity of those who, with unseeing minds led astray by secret pride, presume to do good without having been called to do so by God speaking through His Church, as if the divine Redeemer had any need of their worthless co-operation, or indeed of any man's.
What is important is to cooperate with God for the salvolion of souls, and of the whole world. This is our true mission. which reaches its highest expression in the Popes
"In all things look to the end". I am not thinking here of death but of the purpose and divine vocation to which the Pope has been summoned by a mysterious decree of Providence.
This vocation is shown in a three-fold splendour : the personal sanctity of the Pope which gives its own glory to his life: the love.which the holy universal Church bears to him, in the measure of that heavenly grace which alone can inspire him and assure his glory; finally, his obedience to the will of Jesus Christ, who atone rules through the Pope and governs the Church according to his own pleasure, for the sake of that glory which is supreme on earth as in the eternal heavens.
Monday, August 14s
The Pope's basic rule of conduct must be always to content himself with his present state and have no concern for the future; this he must• accept from the Lord as it comes. but without counting on it or making any human provision for it, even taking care not to speak of it confidently and casually to anyone.
My experience during these three years as Pope, since "in fear and trembling" I accepted this service in pure obedience to the Lord's will, conveyed to me through the voice of the Sacred College of Cardinals in conclave, bears witness to this maxim and is a moving and lasting reason for me to be true to it: absolute trust in God, in all that concerns the present, and perfect tranquillity as regards the future.
The various initiatives of a pastoral character which mark this first stage of my papal apostolate have all come to me as pure, tranquil, loving. I might even say silent. inspirations from the Lord, speaking to the heart of his poor servant who through no merit of his own save that very simple merit of mere acquiescence and obedience. without discussion, has been able to contribute to the honour of Jesus and the edification of souls.
My first contacts with high and low; the charitable visits here and there; the meekness and humility shown in the approaches made to clarify ideas and give warm-hearted encourgement; my Lenten visits to new parishes; the unexpectedly successful outcome of the Diocesan Synod, the closer links between the papacy and the whole Christian world, achieved by the repeated creation of new Cardinals and Bishops from every nation and of every race and colour, and now this vast activity, of unforeseen and most imposing magnitude, for the General Council—all this confirms the wisdom of the principle of waiting on God and expressing with faith, modesty and confident enthusiasm the good inspirations of the grace of Jesus. who rules the world and guides it according to the supreme purposes of the creation, redemption, and final and eternal glorification of souls and peoples.
August 15: Feast of the Assumption The political atmosphere of the world in general just now arouses some anxieties about the problem of preserving peace. I thought it good to celebrate my Assumption Mass here. in the parish of Castel Gandolfo, inviting everyone to it, regular parishioners as well as casual visitors. It was a great and imposing gathering.
Yesterday I had broadcast throughout the world information concerning the significance of this ceremony: it was an invitation to all Catholics of all nations, Bishops. priests and lay folk, to join with the Pope in collective prayer to the glorious Virgin, the Queen of Peace and Peacemaker of the whole world.
This brief and satisfactory ceremony served as the introduction to this last day of my retreat.
"Journal of a Soul" is published by Geoffrey Chapman at 42s.