As I write it is the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord, August 6, commemorating when Christ allowed His chief apostles to see a little something of His divine splendour shining forth through the veil of His perfect humanity. Hence, they were strengthened against the terrible trial of faith they would endure in the Passion to come.
Speaking of the Transfiguration, it is also the 40th anniversary of the death of Pope Paul VI in 1978, the Year of the Three Popes. It hardly seems possible that that many years have flown by. It is a good reminder that we should take care to have our own temporal and spiritual affairs in order. Tempus edax rerum… time is the devourer of all things. But, pace Ovid, not of eternal things! Therein let us fix our hearts and let not our hearts be troubled.
Pope Paul VI has had much of our attention lately, particularly because on July 25 we marked the 50th anniversary of his monumentally important encyclical on human life, Humanae vitae. One could argue that the two greatest, positive and lasting contributions Paul offered us during his 15-year pontificate, which straddled years of supreme societal and moral upheaval, were Humanae vitae and the Credo of the People of God issued in 1968 for the 19th centenary of the martyrdom of Ss Peter and Paul.
Paul issued this non-liturgical “creed” because he saw the world and the Church flying apart at the seams. He wrote of “the disquiet which agitates certain modern quarters with regard to the faith”:
They do not escape the influence of a world being profoundly changed, in which so many certainties are being disputed or discussed. We see even Catholics allowing themselves to be seized by a kind of passion for change and novelty. The Church, most assuredly, has always the duty to carry on the effort to study more deeply and to present, in a manner ever better adapted to successive generations, the unfathomable mysteries of God, rich for all in fruits of salvation. But at the same time the greatest care must be taken, while fulfilling the indispensable duty of research, to do no injury to the teachings of Christian doctrine. For that would be to give rise, as is unfortunately seen in these days, to disturbance and perplexity in many faithful souls.
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