What is your favorite line/passage/phrase from your favorite written work?
Many times we talk about those books that “changed our lives forever.” What book or any other written work has brought your heart rate up or almost brought you to tears that you just needed to put it down and had to stop reading for a few minutes? And from that work, which specific passage or line has stuck with you for years or even changed the course of your life, your spirituality, your faith, or your worldview? If you can, share with us that specific section that changed you forever and why it did so.
My pick is very difficult as I know yours will be. The Bible and so many great works by saints and theologians that have changed me throughout the years. But I have to say that two specific papal encyclicals did the most to me: Rerum Novarum (Leo XIII) and Quadragesimo Anno (Pius XI), because they addressed many points I was struggling with in my life at the time: work, materialism, and financial commitment to others. And as I have shared in previous posts, it was not until I read those two encyclicals and proceeded to read the words of John Paul II in Sollicitudo Rei Socialis that would change it all for me:
“This then is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.” (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, 38)
The internal struggle that I always had, since I was very young, in trying to reconcile my views of the world and my concern for the most vulnerable with my faith in Jesus Christ and as a member of the Catholic Church had finally come to an end. Because now I knew what the Church taught and understood my relationship, and more importantly, my responsibility to every single individual who is a member of the Mystical Body of Christ in a completely new way. To me that was such a powerful concept: a Church that has no boundaries and is concerned with all, a constant love that never ceases even in the midst of difficulties. This was never clear to me until I read John Paul II’s words.
However, that internal struggle did not come to an end. I did find a wonderful answer in the Church that I love and that I hope to serve even more, but how is one to turn those words into action? How do we really acknowledge every member of the body of Christ as our responsibility? I personally hold that it is in this effort that lays the greatest challenge of a Christian.