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Veritatis Splendor

"Keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus, who inspires and perfects our faith" --Hebrews 12:2

Pope Benedict XVI before our Lord

And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is. We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution.
Each of us is the result of a thought of God.
Each of us is willed,
each of us is loved,
each of us is necessary.
There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know Him and to speak to others of our friendship with Him.
~Pope Benedict XVI, Homily April 24th, 2005

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Homily - Bishop Campbell's Installation Mass

Many of you who read these words are from my Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis -- and so, you know that we have recently "lost" (to others' gain) one of our beloved bishops, Bishop Frederick Campbell, to the diocese of Columbus, OH. He will be sorely missed by us here in Minnesota, but we send him forth with our blessing and prayers to his new flock in Ohio!

Below is a transcript of Bishop Campbell's homily at his installation Mass at St. Joseph's Cathedral in Columbus, taken from the Diocese of Columbus website at http://www.colsdioc.org

Mass of Installation of Bishop Frederick F. Campbell
Eleventh Bishop of Columbus
January 13, 2005
Bishop Campbellā€™s Homily

Several years ago a young priest from a missionary order visited the parish of which I was then pastor to give a mission appeal. He began his sermon with an exemplary and cautionary story.

A bishop visited one of the order's missions somewhere in the South Pacific. The priest in charge of the mission had gathered the catechumens of the area to greet the bishop and to hear a message from the successor of the apostles. The priest understood that the bishop did not know the native language and that the catechumens possessed an imperfect grasp of English, so the priest asked the bishop to address the group in English and the priest would translate the message into the native language.

The catechumens, a sizable group, were enthusiastic about meeting a bishop from so far away. For his part, the bishop was excited by this opportunity to exercise his teaching office. Desiring to share the fullness of the faith, he offered an extraordinary and deeply theological explanation of the meaning of baptism. As the bishop described the life in Christ to which baptism would call the people, he spoke with great eloquence. He also spoke at great length.

What the bishop appears not have noticed were the uncomprehending, though respectful, eyes of the catechumens and the desperate look on the face of the missionary priest who was madly searching for the terms in the native language that would convey the bishop's meaning. Finally the bishop finished. With a nod he indicated to the priest that the translation could begin. The priest drew a breath, stood up before his people, and said in the native language: "The bishop says that he is happy to be here." The priest then sat down. The crowd was delighted. More than a little confused, the bishop said to the priest: "Is that it?" "Yes," replied the priest, "this particular language has the wonderful ability to say so much in so few words."

My brothers and sisters, I do not know that native language and therefore cannot hope to achieve that standard of compression and abbreviation. But I shall begin by saying: "I am happy to be here."

I believe that there is, however, a bit more that I must say at this time. And what I have to say is, in part, a further reference to the story of the bishop at the, mission station.

I described the story as exemplary and cautionary. First the caution.

Since the announcement of my appointment to the Diocese of Columbus, I have been frequently asked the question: "What are your plans?" To be candid, I am uncertain how to answer the question. I have not arrived here with a roll of blueprints and a large set of specifications. After being away for so many years, I shall need to reacquaint myself with this rapidly growing city and this good diocese. When I was last here, Worthington was a small town north of Columbus, Lazarus Department Store proudly dominated the downtown, and the Josephinum was out in the country. Thankfully, Bexley seems to have stayed in the middle. I remember visiting Washington Courthouse and Chillicothe, fascinated by their names, and to Granville and Marion, for historical reasons. There was a fellow graduate student who preceded me to Minnesota, and now 1 have followed him back to Columbus. I recall the Church of the Holy Name on Patterson Avenue where as a graduate student I attended Mass. The late Msgr. Donovan was then pastor and his associate, for a time, was a young priest who exhibited a deep interest in Sacred Scripture. I wonder if anything ever came of it.

There is much to discover and I must be careful about outlining plans so early in my tenure here. Besides, the more that I have learned of the leadership of Bishop Griffin, my predecessor, the more I am grateful for his work and his example. His welcome has been warm and generous.

The tale of the bishop and the catechumens is also an exemplary one, a story that helps to address a slightly different question. If I were asked, "To what will you dedicate your ministry here in Columbus?" I would be eager to respond.

Remember those individuals who came to hear the bishop. Perhaps from the first moment of self-consciousness, they experienced a sense that they were made for an ultimate reality that no thing on this earth could comprehend or fulfill. Little by little, they may have come to understand, however ill-defined or unclear, that they were heirs to a dignity not of their own making, nor achievable by their own efforts, but yet which alone was the source of their authentic humanity.

Was it when they observed a faithful Christian living the pattern of Christ, or when they were told the reason for Christian hope, or when the accounts of the teaching of our Lord resonated in their hearts, that they came to know that what they had longed for was now to be answered by an encounter with Jesus Christ? As they embraced that Christ did they not know a freedom from fear, a deeper meaning of life, and a peace and joy from the experience of a love that is greater than death?

Every human person is made for God and only in God will he find life and peace. As a bishop I want to awaken others to this reality and help them to achieve its promise. Is this not the mission of the Church and is it not the foundation of all that we do, all of our acts of justice and charity?

I think also of that bishop in the mission field impelled by a profound desire to share the riches of the Catholic faith, even while working, perhaps clumsily, to understand more completely the native language. But whereas that bishop spoke of baptism, I would first speak of Transfiguration, our Gospel reading.

Consider that scene on the mountain top, one revealing the brilliance of the divine presence radiating through the humanity of Jesus, transforming life and overcoming everything that could threaten our human destiny, even death itself. This glory of God is our inheritance and its manifestation compels a response, even if it is simply the disciples' fumbling attempts to express their awe and wonder. In bringing that event on Mount Tabor before the people whom the Church has entrusted to me, I would invite them to understand the power of Christ, the beauty of personal holiness, and the splendor of truth. I would encourage them to acknowledge the Gospel of life, the call to a just and lasting Kingdom, and the task of preaching the Word of God, using, to echo St. Francis, words if necessary. For often, the most effective means of propagating the Gospel is simply the personal influence of a devout Christian.

One of the Church Fathers (I believe it was St. John Chrysostom) wrote that the first responsibility of a bishop is to enter into the mystery of God and, returning from that encounter, to share the mystery with the people. It is only in the grace of God and with your prayers that I should hope to begin to fulfill that responsibility.

I shall begin, continue, and in due time conclude my dedication to this task by a devotion to the sacred liturgy of the Church and preeminently to the Holy Eucharist.

Luke tells us that when Jesus appears with Moses and Elijah, the three were speaking of the exodus that Jesus was to accomplish in Jerusalem, the final exodus of our Lord's suffering, death and resurrection. For the glory of God in Jesus Christ embraces the Cross as well as the rising to new life. Without our participation in this dying and rising there can be no transformation of life, no overcoming of sin, no light nor clarity among the shadows and false images or our world. The Eucharist, from which the Church emerges, must then be celebrated with deep understanding and the most attentive care. The liturgy is the grammar of our faith, the common language necessary for us in order to render our discussions fruitful, to resolve our difficulties, and to reconcile our differences. The liturgy is the breath of Christ's spirit, joining all good things visible and invisible, that impels us to take up the call to holiness and to fulfill the mission of the Church.

The mention of the mission of the Church leads me to consider our first reading from the first Book of the Prophet Samuel.

The scene described in the reading is a dramatic one. The Israelites are beset on all sides by grave difficulties, marked by terrible defeats on the battlefield. Their enemies have even captured the Ark of the Covenant and paraded it off to their pagan temple. The Israelites' own faults and internal strife have added to the threats. In their distress, the Israelites come to Samuel, not necessarily to beseech their God, but to ask Samuel to do something from which he shrinks.

The Israelites had decided that the solution to their problems was to become like all the other nations: they wanted a king to lead them and to form them into a mighty nation according to the standards of the pagans. Then they would be relieved of their distress. Samuel resisted, saying that God Himself was the King of Israel and that the people chosen by Him should not be like other nations. Even when the prophet described the many ways in which a king would abuse the people, the Israelites called for a king all the more loudly. Grieved, God instructed Samuel to give the people what they want. The kingship that the people asked for was, as Samuel promised, only a fleeting solution. It rapidly became a disappointment and then a disaster.

In our own time, whenever the Church faces troubles, disputes, misunderstanding, and threats, both internal and external; when we are tempted to believe that the solution lies in becoming "like all the other nations"; then it will be good for us to remember this story of Samuel and the Israelites. To define the church and her life, her form and constitution in terms other than those found in Sacred Scripture and defined by our apostolic faith is to invite confusion and serious disappointment. Now is certainly the time to renew our understanding of the Church as Christ intends her to be. This is not to ignore the difficulties but to remember who we are.

For over sixty-one years, the Church has nourished me and sustained me. She has taught me constantly and asked me to reflect on the gracious Word of God in Christ. She was the encourager of joy in the good times and a source of consolation in difficulties. In her I have met saints and sinners; known forgiveness and compelling truth; encountered great beauty; endured misunderstanding and experienced a renewed clarity. I have also come to learn, on this wonderful pilgrimage to the Kingdom, how all depends on the love and grace of God and how exceedingly precious is the communion of the faithful who are on the journey with me.

It is my prayer that God grant me the grace as your bishop to teach the meaning of the Church of Christ with clarity, persuasiveness, a good humor when appropriate and a forcefulness when necessary, inviting all that I meet to consider the treasure that we possess in earth vessels. I pray also that God make me a reflection of the charity that flowed from the heart of Christ onto the dust of our life to awaken new hope. I shall strive to call all the members of the Church to the understanding of their particular vocation in life, but, especially, to encourage young men and women to listen carefully to the voice of the Spirit directing them to the service of the Church as priests and religious.

For in the end, at the conclusion of our work and our prayer, our study and reflection, will it not be important for us to rest in the knowledge that we have generously embraced our vocation, to say with the disciples at the Transfiguration "It is good for us to be here," and to be able to acclaim with heart-felt recognition, "My Lord and My God"?


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