Cooperatores Veritatis – co-workers for the truth
I was received into the Roman Catholic Church at Easter 2006. I was 54 years old. My decision to become Catholic after having been propelled from fundamentalist Baptist to evangelical non-denominationalism to Episcopalianism had been a long time coming. The path I traveled to that point contained waystations where signposts pointed in directions as varied as the fundamentalist’s claim that the Roman Catholic Church was the ‘great whore of Babylon’ (and the Pope the Anti-Christ), a claim that only increased my pre-adolescent curiosity as to what such a malevolent force could be. Jacques Maritain, Soren Kierkegaard, Alan Watts, Flannery O’Connor played parts in the journey. But by far the most prominent of the influences was Pope Saint John Paul II whose life and witness exerted a kind of gravitational pull into what seemed to my eyes the heart of love itself. Never far from that saint was another whom I only later came to know through my friendship with Gil Bailie, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. The friendship of the Pope and the Cardinal had been longstanding, reinforcing and nourishing the love both had for Jesus Christ and the service to which both were called as priests in His Church.
While I was participating in the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA) in 2005 Gil Bailie made a gift of Cardinal Ratzinger’s 1990 book ‘Co-workers of the Truth – Meditations for Every Day of the Year’, a gift that has continued to inspire and direct my wayward sojourn toward the truth.
Today as we pray for the soul of Pope Benedict XVI, I offer the following excerpts from the National Catholic Register’s report on the Pope’s death, and the final paragraph for the December 31st entry of ‘Co-workers of the Truth’:
In 1977, to the surprise of almost everyone — including Father Ratzinger himself — Pope Paul VI named Father Ratzinger archbishop of Munich and Freising, and the archbishop-elect adopted Cooperatores Veritatis (“Co-Workers of the Truth”) as his episcopal motto.
“One has to make do with what time one has,” …. “I was conscious that my task was of another kind: that I must try above all else to show what faith means in the contemporary world, and further, to highlight the centrality of faith in God, and give people the courage to have faith, courage to live concretely in the world with faith.”
“Quite soon, I shall find myself before the final judge of my life. Even though, as I look back on my long life, I can have great reason for fear and trembling, I am nonetheless of good cheer, for I trust firmly that the Lord is not only the just judge, but also the friend and brother who himself has already suffered for my shortcomings, and is thus also my advocate, my ‘Paraclete,’”
“In light of the hour of judgment, the grace of being a Christian becomes all the more clear to me. It grants me knowledge, and indeed friendship, with the judge of my life, and thus allows me to pass confidently through the dark door of death.”
“In this regard,” he concluded, “I am constantly reminded of what John tells us at the beginning of the Apocalypse: he sees the Son of Man in all his grandeur and falls at his feet as though dead. Yet He, placing his right hand on him, says to him: ‘Do not be afraid! It is I …’”
The time of the heart is transformed into sunlit time by the fact that our heart does not beat in a vacuum: our heart, conferring rhythm also on our brain and our mind, finds the true timing of its beat by putting itself into the hands of him who holds all our time in his hands – into the hands of eternal Wisdom, which is eternal Love and so our only true Hope. And so then, we put this new year, the new time and our future, into the hands of God: Lord, do accept us, and grant us your blessing!