I know very little about our Blessed Pope John XXIII except that he was an exceptionally funny, focused and holy man. Communio provided a great tribute to him today:
Today we are given Blessed John XXIII as a model of holiness. Pope Blessed John’s liturgical memorial is not the date of his death but the anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.As one example of his holy inclinations I recently read his 1962 letter to women religious, “Il Tempio Massimo.” It is remains a beautiful testament to a great man filled with the Holy Spirit lived as a man of the Church. In this letter the Pope talks about the place of spiritual renewal in religious life; he’s got the grace of a new Pentecost in mind: an old person can be born again.The new Pentecost in Blessed John’s mind is evidenced in a life of prayer, a life of example and a life in the apostolate, whether active or in the cloister. Of course, this letter to the women religious has a specific structure and emphasis but one that ought not be lost to the rest of the Church today; the Pope encourages us “to cultivate a holy enthusiasm” in life in Christ aiming to a more complete and full vocation first introduced to us in the Sacraments of Initiation (Baptism, Confirmation & Eucharist) and then in the call to serve the Lord and the Church in a particular manner (the vowed life, priesthood for those given that vocation, the married state and single life).Blessed John’s points on prayer could be summarized as follows:1. “…more rigid mortification and penance is intended to affirm once again the pre-eminence of the duties of worship and of complete consecration of life to prayer over any other form of apostolate…;2. “…conform more perfectly to the call of the Divine Master…in the contemplative life”;3. “…the only foundations and soul of the apostolate is the interior life”;4. without a life of prayer can “…fall into that ‘heresy of action';5. a life of prayer “…entails not a mechanical repetition of formulas but is rather the irreplaceable means by which one enters into intimacy with the Lord, to better understand the dignity of being daughters of of God and spouses of the Holy Spirit, the ‘sweet guest of the soul’ Who speaks to those who know how to listen in recollection”;6. “holy Mass should be the center of your day, so much so that every action converges on it as a preparation or as a thanksgiving. Let Holy Communion be the daily food which sustains, comforts and strengthens you”;7. 3 recommended and fundamental devotions: “Nothing is better for enlightening and encouraging the adoration of Jesus than to meditate upon Him and invoke Him in the threefold light of the Name, the Heart and the Blood.I’d recommend reading the rest of the letter because Pope John talks about honoring poverty, radiating chastity, a life of sweet obedience and the apostolic and contemplative life.