11 October – Memorial for St. John XXIII, Pope
Also known as Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, John XXIII (1881 – 1963) was born to an Italian peasant family. He was educated at Bergamo and later at the Pontifical Roman Seminary in Rome. He was ordained on 10 August 1904. He was the secretary to the bishop of Bergamo, Italy from 1904 to 1914. During which he wrote the basis for his five-volume biography of Saint Charles Borromeo. He served in World War I in the medical corps, and as a chaplain. From 1921 onwards he served the Holy See directly in various posts, both in Rome and in Bulgaria, Turkey and Greece, culminating as Apostolic Nuncio to France from 1944 until 1953, when he was created cardinal and made the Patriarch of Venice. He was elected 261st pope on 28 October 1958.
As pope he stressed his own pastoral duties as well as those of other bishops and clergy. Promoted social reforms for workers, poor people, orphans, and the outcast. He advanced cooperation with other faiths and traditions including Protestant, Greek Orthodox, Church of England, and even Shinto. In April 1959 he forbade Catholics to vote for parties supporting Communism. His encyclical, Mater et Magistra of 14 July 1961 advocated social reform, assistance to underdeveloped countries, a living wage for all workers, and support for socialist measures that promised real benefit to society.
He nearly doubled the number of cardinals, making the college the largest in history. On 25 January 1959, he announced his intent to call a council to consider ways to renew the Church in the modern world, promote diversity within the unity of the Church, and consider reforms promoted by ecumenical and liturgical movements. Convening the council, known as Vatican II, on 11 October 1962, was the high point of his reign.
His heartiness, his overflowing love for humanity individually and collectively, and his freshness of approach to ecclesiastical affairs made John one of the best-loved popes of modern times.
– Patron Saint Index, Universalis
Are you people in Galatia mad? Has someone put a spell on you, in spite of the plain explanation you have had of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ? Let me ask you one question: was it because you practised the Law that you received the Spirit, or because you believed what was preached to you? Are you foolish enough to end in outward observances what you began in the Spirit? Have all the favours you received been wasted? And if this were so, they would most certainly have been wasted. Does God give you the Spirit so freely and work miracles among you because you practise Law, or because you believed what was preached to you?
Jesus said to his disciples, ‘Suppose one of you has a friend and goes to him in the middle of the night to say, “My friend, lend me three loaves, because a friend of mine on his travels has just arrived at my house and I have nothing to offer him”; and the man answers from inside the house, “Do not bother me. The door is bolted now, and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up to give it you.” I tell you, if the man does not get up and give it him for friendship’s sake, persistence will be enough to make him get up and give his friend all he wants.
‘So I say to you: Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened to you. For the one who asks always receives; the one who searches always finds; the one who knocks will always have the door opened to him. What father among you would hand his son a stone when he asked for bread? Or hand him a snake instead of a fish? Or hand him a scorpion if he asked for an egg? If you then, who are evil, know how to give your children what is good, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!’
“how much more will the Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?”
When I attended the Conversion Experience Retreat (CER) in 2016, I came to realize that I am most attuned to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and the experiences that I encountered during the CER were largely related to the Holy Spirit as well. It was also during the retreat that I realized how close the Holy Spirit was journeying with me throughout my entire life. Since then, I started to draw closer to the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit has become a constant companion in my life and during moments where I feel alone, I am often consoled that I am not alone because I can talk to the Holy Spirit. I would also break out into conversation with the Holy Spirit when I walk to work, and sometimes I find that I get inspirations that I never would have thought of.
When I was in Rome earlier this year, I visited the famous St. Peter’s Basilica and one of the many pieces that caught my eye was the Dove of the Holy Spirit that is above the Throne of St. Peter. The Dove of the Holy Spirit is an amber stained glass window with a white dove at the center of the window. As I managed to attend mass and spend an extended time at the basilica, I noticed that the intensity of the amber going from light to dark and light again, depending on the time of day and the position of the sun. This light to dark to light depiction of the Holy Spirit reminded me of the times in my life where the promptings of the Spirit were either very gentle or very obvious and intense, depending on how receptive and attuned I was to the Spirit.
Today’s Gospel reminds us of the Holy Spirit being a helper in our lives and God’s generosity and willingness to gift the Holy Spirit to all who ask of Him. Brothers and sisters, let us invite the Holy Spirit to journey with us through our everyday lives and to be aware of the promptings of the Spirit at every moment of our lives.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Hannah Huang)
Prayer: Dearest Father, we pray for the grace to grow closer to the Holy Spirit by being more aware of the Spirit’s presence. Help us to be patient and more attentive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Thanksgiving: Dearest Father, thank you for the gift of the Holy Spirit in our lives. Thank you for providing us with such a wonderful helper in our lives.