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Not Too Big for Britches

My spiritual reading of the last few days has been from the collected journals of Blessed Pope John XXIII, titled Journal of a Soul. The irony of his reputation is that both "progressive" and "traditionalist" Catholics seem to think he was a wild-eyed liberal caught up in the falsely so-called "Spirit of Vatican II." The reality is that he was a very conservative man, in love with the entire tradition. His own youth was spent, as evidenced by his journals, in a search for holiness that sounds, well, very pre-Vatican II. In his "Meditation" that precedes the text of the journals, Pope John's old friend Giulio Bevilacqua attempts a pre-emptive strike on those who would disdain the journals:

This spirituality might seem to be reduced to interminable examinations of conscience, which arouse in the minds of our contemporaries distrust or even revolt; it is a method which apparently sees God not as love and fatherhood, from whom all fatherhood derives, but only as the Judge who pronounces eternal judgments on the frailty of the creature, a breath of wind that passes and comes no more. . . .
Yet this kind of spirituality produced Pope John: the tree is to be judged by its fruit. This rigorously constructed spirituality is technique, the letter of the law; yes, but it is not only technique and the letter of the law, for within it lives and from it soars a great conception.

The "great conception" Bevilacqua goes on to mention is "a powerful and exalted evangelical impulse which dominates his whole existence, and preserves this constant examination of his own life from any puritanical or pharisaical contamination."

Indeed Pope John looked back on these earlier journals with approval and approved their publication because they might help others learn from him.

So far, I am, and will continue to pass on nuggets.


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Comments (1)

Jason A.:

You have time to do spiritual reading????

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on December 3, 2004 4:34 PM.

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