24 May 2006

No Cross, No Christian

In a letter to Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, Superior General of the Society of Jesus, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI reiterated a centrul truth of the Christian faith, saying, "In fact, being Christian is only possible with our gaze fixed on the cross of our Redeemer."

So many who would call themselves "Christians" - largely in the Western world - are promoting a version of "Christianity" that seemingly seeks to avoid the cross of our salvation in everyday faith and living, but such a vision clearly is false and dangerous.

The letter, written on the occassion of the fiftieth anniversary of Pope Pius XII's Encyclical Letter Haurietis Aquas (On Devotion to the Sacred Heart), centered on the devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Praising this devotion, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that "gazing at the side pierced by the lance, where shines God's boundless will for salvation, cannot then be considered as a passing form of veneration or devotion. The adoration of God's love, which found historical-devotional expression in the symbol of the pierced heart, remains irreplaceable for a living relationship with God."

In reflecting on the call of the Savior, Pope Benedict XVI recalled that "the experience of God's love is lived by man as a 'call' to which he must respond." Let us respond generously and with loving hearts to this invitation and so fulfill the Scripture, "They shall look on him whom they have pierced" (John 19:37).

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