Welina iāʻoukou me ke aloha o ke Akua,


When I was elected Bishop in 2006, I was given two books by a friend: Journal of a Soul: The Autobiography of Pope John XXIII and Pope John XXIII: A Life (in the Penguin Lives series), Thomas Cahill.  Pope John XXIII, born Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli (November 25, 1881 - June 3, 1963), was elected as the 261st Pope of the Roman Catholic Church on October 28, 1958. The Roman Catholic Church will formally canonize John on Monday, April 27.  (The date assigned for the Roman Catholic liturgical celebration of John XXIII is not June 3, the anniversary of his death, as is usual, but October 11, the anniversary of his opening of the Second Vatican Council.)  He is, in fact, commemorated now in the Episcopal Church's liturgical calendar on the 4th of June.


Now, two books related to the life of a mid-twentieth century Pope might seem like an odd gift for a decidedly twenty-first century Episcopal Bishop, but John offers a marvelous example of an engaged pastor serving God and God's people with joy.  Though he was already almost seventy-seven when he became Pope, he strove to connect the faith of the Church with life. In a quote attributed to John, he challenges us into the future:  "Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do."


Cahill writes of John's Maundy Thursday, 1962, encyclical, Pacem in terris (Peace on Earth):  "He speaks first of the marvelous order of the universe, given by God but disrupted by sin.  Still, it is possible to discern what God had in mind, particularly in the human realm, where good order means principally good relations among human beings.  This leads the Pope to enumerate a series of human rights:  the right to worship freely ʻin private and in public,' the right to take an active part in the political life of one's state, the right of even small and poor nations to self-determination, the rights of minorities and refugees.  Evil laws cannot bind citizens to obedience, for ʻwhat are kingdoms without justice but great bands of robbers?'  These human rights, however, presume a corresponding series of obligations, and the Pope enumerates these, from the obligations of larger states toward smaller ones-- all states being 'by nature equal in dignity'-- to the more intimate obligations 'to pass on to others the best of [one's] own cultural heritage and to strive eagerly to make [one's] own the spiritual achievements of others....Therefore, venerable brothers and beloved children, human society must primarily be considered a thing of the spirit.' The peace of a society must always rest on 'the four pillars' of truth, justice, love, and freedom, and these serve as John's 'four great themes'.... John sees everywhere signs of this heightened appreciation of human dignity, but especially in three areas:  'a progressive improvement in the economic and social conditions of workers'; 'the part women are now playing in political life everywhere' and their 'increasing awareness of their natural dignity'; and the demise of imperialism, which 'is fast becoming an anachronism.'  The section on the waning of colonialism also calls resoundingly for 'the elimination of every trace of racism' within and between states. The section on women, with its clear admiration and championing of their rights, is unique in the history of papal pronouncements [Cahill, Thomas (2008-01-29),  Pope John XXIII: A Life (Penguin Lives)(Kindle Locations 2975-2984 and 2990-2994). Penguin Group US. Kindle Edition]."


He, like each of us, was conditioned by his times and social context, but I have found John to be an able teacher.  I have found a delightful daily rule also attributed to Pope John referred to as "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII." A version of it can be found on the Vatican website.  It is from the homily card of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone from a Eucharist celebrated to commemorate Pope John XIII on October 11, 2006:


The Church's holiness and human wisdom are expressed very clearly in what is called "The daily decalogue of Pope John XXIII":


1) Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.


2) Only for today, I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly; I will not raise my voice; I will be courteous in my behaviour; I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.


3) Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.


4) Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.


5) Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.


6) Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.


7) Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.


8) Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.


9) Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.


10) Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.


To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution: "I want to be kind, today and always, to everyone". In this way, we can put Pope John's hope for every Christian into practice: "Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass: and the more he is so, the more he will live, in his innermost depths, in communion with God".


As we come to Easter 2014, I pray we each can take on this simple rule, and, especially, number 3: "Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one."  We have the joy of life in Jesus Christ.  In the words of the hymn by Brian Wren, "I come with joy to meet my Lord, forgiven, loved, and free, in awe and wonder to recall his life laid down for me" (The Hymnal 1982, #304).  In John's words, we are each called to be the bearers of "truth, justice, love, and freedom" in God's world. 


I would also ask your special prayers for Pope John XXIII on April 27.


May God bless you this Easter as you are a blessing to those around you each and every day.


Aloha ma o Iesu Kristo, ko mākou Haku,



The Right Reverend Robert L. Fitzpatrick

+ Keali'ikoaokeakua



The Episcopal Church in Hawai'i

Office of the Bishop
229 Queen Emma Square
Honolulu, HI 96813
(808) 536-7776, ext. 326; Neighbor Islands: 1-800-522-8418