Faith and Faithfulness: Hitting the Mark
As the Cardinals of the Catholic Church congregate in the Sistine Chapel for the election of the new Pope the world is abuzz with speculations on who the 266th Pope will be. Media outlets from all over the world have their own lists of papabiliwho according to their own estimations have the greater chance of election due to their popularity or relevance.
Secular media is alien to the inner workings of the Church who in her work for salvation is fond of quiet reflection in contrast to the spectacle of speculation, intrigue, and sensation of the world. What most outsiders would consider is the name and fame of each cardinal-elector. The reflective mood however of the conclave points to the search of who among the electors has the capacity to keep the Church faithful to the teachings of Christ in our time.
In a world facing issues of life and life-choices, the Church has been branded as medieval. I think it is altogether missing the point. The Church is not medieval; it is consistent with her teachings throughout history. It is not outdated but continues to strive to be faithful to Christ her spouse. The magisterium, regardless of the personal and individual opinions of her members is bound to faithfulness through the grace of the Holy Spirit. The Church, then, needs a leader who would continue to be a vanguard for this faithfulness.
The landscape of the world may change over time, yet the same laws subsist forever, laws that are rooted in truth and reality and not in the fluid opinions of intellects that pass into oblivion and annals of history. The Church, through the Pope, reads the signs of the times and discerns the call of God through the changing world yet the call remains the same – the call to holiness. Be perfect as your heavenly Father in heaven is perfect. It is a call to fidelity.
As what Mother Teresa of Calcutta would put it, God calls us not to be successful but to be faithful. Faithfulness entails a seeming defeat, opposition, and persecution. In faithfulness, there is no promise of success for success is a mere illusion of the world and a not so worthy prize for steadfast faith. In faithfulness, there is only the promise of Presence. I will be with you until the end of time.
The beauty of the Church and also of the papacy is not that she in herself is faithful, or that human nature by itself is faithful, for in fact all that is human is fallible. Her real dignity is that God promised to be faithful with her that not even the gates of hell would prevail against her. Only God is faithful and it is His faithfulness that brings sustenance to His people.
It is sad to hear of religious who complain and much worse, quit their paths because they feel unfulfilled or sad in their living out of the vows. The radicality of religious life is not exemplified in the success of the ministry. It is actually seen in the faithfulness of the religious in the vows he had made despite the trails, failures, and sadness in his or her following of Christ. Would Christ be pleased to hear a disciple quit because the work is unrewarding and unfulfilling? No, Jesus would rather have His disciples carry their cross and follow Him.
Pope-Emeritus Benedict XVI spoke that there is a crisis of faith in the world. The Church needs a Pope who will nourish and enliven once more the Faith in a world that is bereft of it. Not a faith blind to reason nor a faith that is bound to the senses but a Faith that is alive in the Spirit and fuelled by the impulse to love without recompense and steadfastly through times good and bad.