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The Church is alive’ and so is faith at Notre Dame

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Catholic faithful and men and women of many different beliefs or none, have lived through two emotional weeks. We stood vigil during the dying of Pope John Paul II and his wake and funeral. We witnessed one of the shortest conclaves in recent years. We experienced the exciting wait for the name of the new pope as white smoke poured out of the stovepipe of the Sistine Chapel and the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica began their joyful peal. And we have lived through the first days and the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI. During these days, we had an opportunity to live the most profound truths, which are the basis of our faith. Our Church traces its origin to Jesus Christ, who gave the keys of the kingdom to Peter, and who promised that his Father would send the Holy Spirit to guide the community of believers through the peaceful and tumultuous moments of human history. During Easter Week, we heard so many stirring accounts of the appearances of Jesus to the disciples after his resurrection. After they had been firmed up in their faith, Jesus left them with instructions to go out into the whole world to spread the Good News of the Gospel and to baptize people who believed. In three weeks, we will celebrate the feast of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the believers and emboldened them to live as Jesus did and to be witnesses to the Gospel. The selection of the 264th successor of Peter – apostolic succession – means that teachings of the doctrine of our faith, its traditions and the sacramental ministry of the Church will be available to us as they will be to all people until the end of time. The believers who come after us will be initiated into a life of belief as Christians, just as we were. They will be baptized in order to live with Jesus forever. They will be strengthened by the gift of the Holy Spirit at confirmation and will know our joy as we celebrate the Eucharist around the Lord’s Table. They will receive forgiveness through sacramental reconciliation. Through the sacrament of the sick, they will be strengthened when they are weak and in need. The Church will continue to bless the love of men and women through the sacrament of matrimony. And men will be called to be ordained as priests in order to serve God’s people, side by side with millions of dedicated lay men and women. While we thank God for the life of Pope John Paul, we look forward to the Petrine ministry of Pope Benedict XVI. The beginning of a new papacy is always an exciting time for the Church. We believe that the Holy Spirit, not only guided the choice of Pope Benedict XVI, but that the same Spirit will be present to him during all the days he will lead the Church: as Bishop of Rome, as successor to Peter, the chief of the apostles, as Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church and as the servant of the servants of God. At his inauguration last Sunday, Pope Benedict said “The Church is alive – with these words, I greet with great joy and gratitude all of you gathered here … Like a wave gathering force, my thoughts go out to all men and women of today, to believers and non-believers alike.” May this brilliant, humble, prayerful and simple man of faith and holiness, encourage us to live up to the great challenges of being disciples of Jesus Christ in a world that is distracted by lights that are not those of the Gospel. May he see the Spirit at work in continents where the faith is lively and growing, in our rich heritage of intellectual pursuit of truth, in the poor and sick, in people who live their lives faithfully and especially from young people who have so much to offer because of their energy, their enthusiasm and in the case of Notre Dame undergraduates, excitement about being people of faith. “The purpose of our lives is to reveal God to [people]. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only where we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is … Each of us is the result of the will of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved and each of us is necessary.”

Father Richard Warner is the director of Campus Ministry. he can be contacted at [email protected] views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.