The Best Quotes of 2007
As I look back on 2007, here are 10 power quotes that bookmarked the year for me in my editing and writing for the Marians of the Immaculate Conception. I'll let the words speak for themselves.
May they inspire you to redouble your efforts in the New Year to live the message of Divine Mercy. Consider sharing some of your own favorite quotes of the year at the end of this column.
Pope Benedict XVI speaks of the power of forgiveness in his homily on Divine Mercy Sunday, April 15:
The spirit of Jesus Christ is the power of forgiveness. He is the power of Divine Mercy. He makes it possible to start all over again — ever anew. The friendship of Jesus Christ is the friendship of the One who makes us people who forgive. The One who also forgives us, raises us ceaselessly from our weakness and in this very way educates us, instills in us an awareness of the inner duty of love, of the duty to respond with our faithfulness to His trust.
Father Kazimierz Chwalek, MIC, the Marians' Director of Evangelization and Development, makes a special announcement during the Divine Mercy Sunday EWTN Broadcast on April 15 from the National Shrine of The Divine Mercy:
We have incredible news to share. There will be a World Apostolic Congress on Mercy in Rome next year, from April 2-6.
What is a World Congress? Perhaps many people know what a Eucharistic Congress is about. A Congress involves gathering people in one place to honor a particular mystery of our faith. The World Mercy Congress will have people gathered from all over the world to celebrate and deeply reflect on the mystery of mercy.
And then after [the World Congress in Rome], we'll come back and host Mercy Congresses in various countries and regions of the world. Those who participated in Rome will come back and share their experiences. So this will be incredible — just incredible!
In his new book, Jesus of Nazareth, which is released in English in May, Pope Benedict says that Jesus' Parable of the Good Samaritan is a call to show mercy, describing it as being "struck by the lightning flash of mercy." In the Gospel account from Luke, a man has just been robbed and beaten and is lying by the side of the road. A priest and Levite pass by on the other side of the road. Pope Benedict picks up the narrative here, writing:
And now the Samaritan enters the stage. What will he do? [Unlike the expert of the law who has just been questioning Jesus] he does not ask how far his obligations of solidarity extend. Nor does he ask about the merits required for eternal life. Something else happens: His heart is wrenched open. The Gospel uses the word that in Hebrew had originally referred to the mother's womb and maternal care. Seeing this man in such a state is a blow that strikes him "viscerally," touching his soul. "He had compassion" — that is how we translate the text today, diminishing its original vitality. Struck in his soul by the lightning flash of mercy, he himself now becomes a neighbor, heedless of any question or danger. The burden of the question thus shifts here. The issue is no longer which other person is a neighbor to me or not. The question is about me. I have to become a neighbor, and when I do, the other person counts for me "as myself."
On Sept. 16, in Lichen, Poland, the Marian Founder, Fr. Stanislaus Papczynski, is beatified. The Cardinals who officiate at the beatification and the Mass of thanksgiving on Sept. 17 have some extraordinary things to say about the Founder, the charism or call of his Marian Congregation, and the Marian Helpers who assist the Marians in their work. First, the Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone in his homily at the beatification gives an inspiring charge to the Marians. In it, he emphasizes their call to be "tireless heralds of God's merciful love":
Dear Marian Fathers and Brothers, today this precious spiritual heritage of your Founder is entrusted to you: welcome it and, like him, be tireless heralds of God's merciful love, keeping your gaze fixed upon Mary Immaculate, so that in each of you the divine plan may be fulfilled.
Then, on Sept. 17, at the Mass of Thanksgiving, celebrated at the Founder's tomb in Poland, Cardinal Franc Rode, CM (Prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life), addresses the Marians and their Marian Helpers in his homily with these stirring words:
Dear Marians, never in the more than 300-year history of your Congregation has the necessity to reconsider the life and charism of your Founder been more burning. Return to the spring from which flowed each of your own vocations. The Church has need, too, of you, beloved lay associates [Marian Helpers], who, in a variety of ways, participate in the spirituality and mission of the Congregation of the Marians. From the charism that shown forth in Blessed Stanislaus, draw the strength and inspiration for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to contemporary man.
Cardinal Rode also addresses the devotees of Blessed Stanislaus in his homily, framing his encouragement to them by calling them "above all" to be "apostles of mercy" like the new blessed himself:
The Church and the world have need also of you, who venerate Blessed Stanislaus. Captivated by his path of faith and having experienced his efficacious intercession before God, strive to be in the midst of the world witnesses of God's love, imitators of His mother, zealous intercessors for the departed, and, above all, apostles of mercy.
On a moving personal note, Br. Andrew Maczynski, MIC, the Vice Postulator in North America for the Marian Causes of Canonization, shares in the Winter 2007-8 issue of Marian Helper magazine about the special role he played at the beatification of the Marian Founder:
I had the great honor of carrying the relic of Blessed Stanislaus in a procession to the altar. My classmate Fr. Victor Gumienny, MIC, joined me in hoisting the reliquary upon a pedestal and, just like that, we presented to the world this holy man, our Founder.
The reliquary was quite heavy — about 30 pounds or so! And the procession itself was quite long.
But I remember thinking, "How appropriate!" After all, Blessed Stanislaus's own spiritual journey was long and fraught with so many difficulties. But he persevered by placing his trust in God. Against all odds, he founded our Congregation, giving it the weighty tasks of spreading devotion to the Immaculate Conception, praying for the souls in purgatory, and performing pastoral works for those who are most in need.
I will never forget carrying that reliquary and the delight in knowing that the world would now learn about this man who is a model for us all. With great joy, I can now commend the world to Blessed Stanislaus.
In the Winter issue of Marian Helper, the Marian seminarians of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy Province, based in Stockbridge, Mass., reflect after the beatification on how the Marian Founder has inspired their vocation. Interestingly, seminarian Br. Michael Gaitley, MIC, shares his surprise that the Gospel of the day on the beatification was all about Divine Mercy:
The most amazing moment at the beatification Mass, for me, came when I read the readings. They were so explicitly about Divine Mercy! For example, the Gospel was Luke 15, the Parable of the Prodigal Son. While reflecting on this fact, I said to myself, "Well, now, that was pretty bold. I wonder who picked readings that so obviously emphasize Divine Mercy?
At the end of Mass, to my great surprise, I discovered that the readings just happened to be the readings for the day. What? Well, now I knew who picked them: God! It seemed that He wanted to make sure that we not miss the connection between Blessed Stanislaus and Divine Mercy.
This little reminder had a big impact on me. It was as if the Lord were saying to me, "Michael, the message of My mercy is so very important — give yourself to it completely!"
On the same day as the beatification of Blessed Stanislaus, Sept. 16, Pope Benedict in his Angelus message comments on the parables of mercy in the Gospel of the day from St. Luke. In his remarks, he also highlights the mercy legacy of Pope John Paul II. The Pope's remarks even seem to anticipate the first World Apostolic Congress on Mercy this April, which will honor in a special way John Paul's "prophetic intuition" about Divine Mercy:
In our time, humanity needs a strong proclamation and witness of God's mercy. Beloved John Paul II, a great apostle of Divine Mercy, prophetically intuited this urgent pastoral need. He dedicated his second encyclical to it and throughout his pontificate made himself a missionary of God's love to all peoples.
After the tragic events of Sept. 11, 2001, which darkened the dawn of the third millennium, he invited Christians and people of good will to believe that God's mercy is stronger than all evil, and that only in the Cross of Christ is the world's salvation found.
On Nov. 30, as the Church Year draws to a close, Pope Benedict issues his own second encyclical, Spe Salvi (Saved in Hope). In it, he emphasizes that only God is man's true hope. He challenges the modern-day false hopes of atheistic and materialistic systems such as Marxism and communism, which have been tossed on the ash heap of history. The Pontiff then cuts to the heart of the matter in describing the foundation of hope for the Christian:
It is not the elemental spirits of the universe, the laws of matter, which ultimately govern the world and mankind, but a personal God governs the stars, that is, the universe; it is not the laws of matter and of evolution that have the final say, but reason, will, love — a Person.
And if we know this Person and He knows us, then truly the inexorable power of material elements no longer has the last word; we are not slaves of the universe and of its laws, we are free.
Now, as we enter 2008, there is every reason to hope — especially as we look forward to the World Mercy Congress in April. May the prophetic intuition of John Paul II point the way! And may Pope Benedict continue to lead us as our Mercy Pope.
David Came is executive editor of Marian Helper magazine, the flagship publication of the Association of Marian Helpers, which is headquartered in Stockbridge, Mass.