The “Core Legacy”

The "Core Legacy"
“One thing is needful . . .  Lk 10:41-42”

In 2002 a close assistant to Pope John Paul II told an audience at Orchard Lake, Michigan that Novo Millennio Ineunto should be a “veritable Vade mecum” (a book for ready reference, “go with me”). It is brief, but it has  depth. There are four parts to the Letter.

Introduction: The Incarnational context for the celebration
Part 1: Meeting Christ – the Legacy of the Great Jubilee
Part 2: A Face to Contemplate
Part 3: Starting Afresh from Christ
Part 4: Witnesses to Love
Conclusion: Duc in Altum

In a previous post I discussed the introduction, the Incarnational context for the celebration. It concerns the gathering of time in recollection, a remembrance of the past is also a prophecy for the future.

In part 1 the Pope surveys the rich memories of the previous years (he had written a Letter Tertio Millennio Adveniente for a three year preparation for the event, the great Jubilee of the birth of Christ, the Incarnation).  They include deep impressions of the young visitors to Rome, the throngs of pilgrims, a Eucharistic Congress, ecumenical outreaches, a purification of memory through asking forgiveness, a pilgrimage to the Holy land, and a Jubilee call for debt forgiveness, as proclaimed by the prophets of old.

Here is how John Paul II summarizes the core legacy of the Jubilee celebrations, which may serve as a statement of the legacy of his papacy:

But if we ask what is the core of the great legacy it leaves us, I would not hesitate to describe it as the contemplation of the face of Christ: Christ considered in his historical features and in his mystery, Christ known through his manifold presence in the Church and in the world, and confessed as the meaning of history and the light of life’s journey.

Christ in historical time, the center of time, a man who walked in Galilee, prayed in Jerusalem, and killed at the hands of those who could not tolerate the truth of the Father. But also Christ in mystery, the Christ encountered in prayer and sacrament. This Christ is known because of the Church — through a “manifold presence” of word, and sacrament, and saint, and service. And then Christ as confessed, acknowledged in our hearts and before all men, “as the meaning of history”, its fulcrum he will say, and the light of the journey, a welcome light in the darkness of the world and in the darkness of our own souls.

Yes, to contemplate the face of Christ is the simple act of faith and love, the “one thing necessary,” he reminds the Marthas (Lk 10:41-42). Contemplating the face of Christ should  “inspire in us new energy, and impel us to invest in concrete initiatives.” It should. As St Philip Neri would say — “WELL! when shall we have a mind to begin to do good?”

The initiatives must arise from prayer, apostolate is overflow from interior life. As a good Thomist, John Paul II also reminds us that action follows on being (Actio sequitur esse).  We must be followers of Christ before we do many things. And we become disciples by sitting at his feet, listening to his words, and contemplating his face.

This leads to the profound and prayerful meditation of part 2, “A Face to Contemplate.” John Paul II leads us in prayer, draws us into contemplation..

Join us!

* indicates required