November 30, 2012

‘Rejoice in the Lord’ is Archbishop Tobin’s episcopal motto

By Mary Ann Garber

“Don’t worry. Be happy.”

Archbishop Tobin's episcopal motto, "Gaudete in Domino"That often-used cliché—which sometimes accompanies a picture of a bright yellow “Smiley Face”—basically describes the Scriptural message of Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin’s episcopal motto.

The new Archbishop of Indianapolis chose “Gaudete in Domino,” which is Latin for “Rejoice in the Lord,” for his motto when he was ordained an archbishop in 2010.

It is taken from a passage in St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians that reads, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

“It’s a characteristic, I think, it should be a characteristic, of Christians,” Archbishop Tobin said after the Oct. 18 press conference at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis during which he was introduced as the archdiocese’s new shepherd.

“It’s not a giddy sort of silliness,” he said, “but rather a deep confidence that God is with us.

“Philippians was written by Paul when he was in prison,” the archbishop said. “He was writing to communities that were in real danger of extinction, and yet he says several times in [his letter] to ‘rejoice.’ ”

In another New Testament passage from the Acts of the Apostles, he said, “the Apostles rejoice that they are found worthy to suffer for the name” of Jesus (Acts 5:41).

“Sometimes the Catholic Church is perceived as something grim and gray,” the archbishop said, “and I don’t think it should be because God is not grim and gray.”

During an interview with The Criterion on Oct. 17 in the chancery at the Archbishop O’Meara Catholic Center, Archbishop Tobin noted that he appreciates the wisdom found in St. Paul’s Letter to the Philippians.

“In one of my Breviaries, I recently found my ordination card from when I was ordained a priest in 1978,” he said. “The quote on it was from Philippians: ‘Every time I think of you, I thank God for you’ ” (Phil 1:3).

“Philippians 4:4 impressed me because it’s written by a guy who is in jail writing to people whose communities are in danger … from internal and external forces,” Archbishop Tobin said. “And yet, look at how often he talks in that letter about being grateful and rejoicing. To me, that’s always been a part of God’s word that has spoken to me.”

Gaudete Sunday, the third Sunday of Advent, remains a special day of worship for him, he said, that he remembers looking forward to since his childhood years.

“Every Advent, when I was a kid, I longed for when that [Scripture passage] would be read on the third Sunday,” Archbishop Tobin said. “ ‘Rejoice in the Lord always.’ Again, I say: ‘rejoice!’ God is near.”

Pope Paul VI issued an apostolic exhortation titled “On Christian Joy” in 1975, which was a jubilee year in the Church.

“Rejoice in the Lord always,” the Holy Father wrote at the start of his apostolic exhortation. “The Lord is near to all who call upon Him in truth!”

The pontiff encouraged “the People of God to correspond with joyful enthusiasm to the grace of the Jubilee, … essentially an appeal to interior renewal and reconciliation in Christ. It is a question of people’s salvation, of their complete happiness. In this time, when throughout the world believers are preparing to celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit, we invite you to implore from him the gift of joy.”

On the occasion of Pentecost, Pope Paul VI wrote, “Christian joy—joy in the Holy Spirit … is a sort of hymn to the divine joy that we would like to utter so that it may awaken an echo in the whole world, and first of all in the Church: May joy be poured out in hearts together with the love of which it is the fruit, by the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.”

(Reporter Sean Gallagher contributed to this story.)

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