Rorate Caeli

Believing with the Church is an essential condition for following Christ

Humbly believing with the Church, like being bound together in a roped party [1] ascending to God, is an essential condition for following Christ. Not acting as the owners of the Word of God, not chasing after a mistaken idea of emancipation -- this is also part of being together in the roped party. The humility of "being-with" is essential to the ascent. Letting the Lord take us by the hand through the sacraments is another part of it. We let ourselves be purified and strengthened by him, we let ourselves accept the discipline of the ascent, even if we are tired.

Finally, we must again say that the cross is part of the ascent toward the height of Jesus Christ, the ascent to the height of God. Just as in the affairs of this world great things cannot be done without renunciation and hard work (joy in great discoveries and joy in a true capacity for activity are linked to discipline, indeed, to the effort of learning) so also the way to life itself, to the realization of one's own humanity is linked to him who climbed to the height of God through the cross. In the final analysis, the cross is the expression of that which is meant by love: Only he who loses himself will find himself.

Let us summarize: Following Christ demands as a first step the reawakening of the nostalgia for being authentically human and thus the reawakening for God. It then demands that one enter into the roped party of those who climb, into the communion of the Church. In the "we" of the Church we enter into the communion with the "Thou" of Jesus Christ and therefore reach the way to God. Moreover, listening to and living Jesus Christ's word in faith, hope and love is also required. We are thus on the way to the definitive Jerusalem and already, from this point forward, we already find ourselves there in the communion of all God's saints.

Our pilgrimage in following Christ, then, is not directed toward any earthly city, but toward the new City of God that grows in the midst of this world...

Pope Benedict XVI
Homily for Palm Sunday
March 28, 2010

[1] The Zenit article has the following note: The Pope is using a mountaineering metaphor here. Groups of climbers often rope themselves together when they scale mountainsides. This is the meaning of a "roped party." The Italian word is "cordata".


  1. Extra Ecclesiam Nulla Salus!

  2. Anonymous5:51 PM

    Reawaken the nostalgia for being authentically human...


    And thank God he used the word "nostalgia" in connection with living orthodoxy. The critics of those attached to the Church's tradition have dragged that word through the mud.

    Also, at least ONE example of authentic humanity I can think of right off the top of my head is Louis Martin's family.


  3. Martin10:30 PM

    Much talk.

    Little action.

    I a sorry to put it so bluntly.

  4. John McFarland1:19 AM

    There is little action because of the nature of the talk.

    Do you recall any talk in the gospels about "life itself" as "the realization of one's own humanity" as opposed to St. John's formulation: eternal life is knowing Christ Jesus, and Him who sent him?

    Do you recall any talk in the gospes about the Cross as representing a "climb to the height of God" as opposed to the means by which Jesus made satisfaction for our sin (a word that does not appear in the excerpt)?

    Do you recall any talk in the gospels about the first step in following Christ being "nostalgia for the authentically human" as opposed to repenting and believing the gospel?

    How does "communion with the Thou of Christ" relate to repenting and believing the gospel, and being baptized? It sounds more like Martin Buber than like Saint Augustine.

    Does this "new city of God that grows in the midst of the world" also involve the hatred of our life in the world that Jesus enjoins upon us?

    The best one can do is conclude that this pious vagueness is somehow intended to tie back to the Faith delivered once for all to the saints.

    One can certainly not expect it to provide the battle plan for the Church Militant.

  5. Sorry, still not good enough Holy Father.

    The Modernists can agree with the statement "believing with the Church is an essential condition for following Christ" but have a radically different interpretation. We need MORE explicit explanations in these sad times.

  6. Anonymous11:05 PM

    John M.,

    Good points all, I think. Deep down, I had a similar reaction. But I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt.



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