13 March 2007

A love letter

I felt an unexpected and special closeness to the Holy Father today at the early Mass. His Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis had just been released and I was able to look at only part of it early this morning before I had to get ready to celebrate Mass. I looked through the index and started to read his words, “The sacrament of charity, the Holy Eucharist is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman…” I had to tear myself away from reading too much, since the grandfather clock in the lobby outside my office was ticking away and the time for Mass was getting closer. But as I was vesting, what I had read of the Holy Father’s thoughts stayed in my mind. As we began the Liturgy I thought of the many priests doing exactly the same thing. I thought of the Pope who had labored over his Exhortation, writing with love about the sacrament of Christ’s love. I had the feeling which comes when you receive a letter from someone close and dear. At odd times my mind pictured the few very brief times I had met the Holy Father when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. How gracious he always was, and it always struck me that those who thought him to be distant or cold or stern really hadn’t looked too closely. He is a man who understands profoundly the love of God for each one of us. This Apostolic Exhortation, with its deep spirituality and practical guidance, is a welcome letter from a loving father.