Reflections from Fr. Dennis
We all teach by the way we live our lives who this Jesus is. In the history of our Church, some 266 have succeeded Peter in the distinctive role of the firm foundation made to resist the destructive floods and winds of every age.
Some popes were like rocks, solid and secure “stepping stones” across the river of life and strife that has been our Church history. Some popes were more like unstable sand, or “stumbling blocks” whose personal conduct threatened to submerge the Church in a sea of scandal and mystery.
Among the rocks were:
- Leo the Great (440-461) who strengthened papal authority throughout Europe and defended the fundamental teaching that in Jesus there are two natures, human and divine, permanently united in one single person.
- Nicholas V (1447-55) whose love of books and buildings led to the establishment of the Vatican Library and the reconstruction of St. Peter’s Basilica.
- Leo XIII (1878-1903) whose famous encyclical Rerum Novarum helped establish the Church’s position on such social issues as the improvement of working conditions, the rights to a living wage, to organize unions, and to strike.
- Pius X (1903-14) the first “Pope of the People” who simplified the Code of Canon Law, reformed the education of clergy and laity and encouraged more frequent reception of Holy Communion.
Among the “stumbling blocks” were:
- Boniface VIII (1294-1303) who enriched his relatives at the expense of the Church and waged relentless war against his family’s rivals.
- Paul II (1464-71) who loved ceremonial and the Roman Carnival and was so proud of his good looks that he considered calling himself Pope Formosus (The Beautiful Pope).
- Alexander VI (1492-1503) who kept a young mistress in the Vatican, poisoned the cardinals in order to acquire their property and promoted his illegitimate children at the Church’s expense.
- Paul III (1543-49) whose mistress bore him four children and who built himself one of the most magnificent palaces in Rome.
The fact that our all too human Church has survived and even thrived is the best evidence for its divine quality. We can, and should be grateful that the “keys” have been in the strong, loving, and caring hands of such holy, humble, and dedicated popes of the last 100 years as St. Pius X, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul II, Benedict XVI and now, Francis.
Stewardship provides a spiritual way of living for all of us ~ a way of being in the world, particularly as we continue to embrace the New Millennium and respond to the Gospel call to renew the face of the Earth.
Stewardship is about the many gifts our gracious God has given us. It helps us to reflect upon our giftedness; all that we have which constitutes our treasure: Our families, friends, time, talents, skills, material possessions, finances.
Stewardship is about reflecting on our faith and on the way we live and act as disciples of Jesus.
Stewardship is about caring for all of God’s creation.
As Christians Stewards, we:
- receive God’s gifts gratefully;
- cultivate them responsibly;
- share them in love and justice with others; and
- stand before the Lord in a spirit of accountability.