Greetings again from Rome, the Eternal City, the See of Saints Peter and Paul!
I miss you! It’s been ten days since I left the archdiocese, and as the old song goes, “I wanna go home!” Especially will I miss you all on Saint Patrick’s Day, the Feast of the patron of our great archdiocese and our renowned cathedral. So far, I’ve been unable to find any Irish brown bread, corned-beef, or whiskey. (Don’t get me wrong; I love the food and wine here in Rome!)
Heartfelt thanks for your prayers! We need them! We feel them! Keep them up! An old-timer told me that the days between the passing of one Pontiff and the election of a new one are like the days in Jerusalem after Our Lord’s Ascension to heaven. The whole Church prayed, prayed hard, prayed long, united with the apostles and the Mother of Jesus, who were locked-up in the Cenacle, awaiting the supreme gift of the Holy Spirit! That’s happening now, if your abundant and gracious notes and messages are any indication.
And we cardinals sure are praying a lot. Every day we each begin with the most effective prayer of all, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. In our sessions we pray from the Divine Office, begin each meeting with the ancient prayer to the third Person of the Most Blessed Trinity, the Veni Sancte Spiritus, and we break at lunch with the beautiful words of the Angelus. Wednesday, we cardinals made a Holy Hour of adoration before Jesus, really and truly present in the Blessed Sacrament, at the Altar of the Chair in Saint Peter’s Basilica.
We’re praying a lot; and, from what I hear, so are you. Thanks!
Actually, we are back in that Upper Room with Our Lady and the apostles, and the challenges we – and the new Saint Peter – will face are, surprisingly, similar to those the first Pope, Saint Peter, confronted that first Pentecost: how most effectively to present the Person, message, and invitation of Jesus to a world that, while searching for salvation and eternal truth, are also at times doubting, skeptical, too busy, or frustrated.
So, you may be astonished to hear, we spend most of our times discussing issues such as preaching; teaching the faith; celebrating the seven sacraments; inviting back those believers who have left; serving the sick and poor, the “least of these;” sustaining our splendid schools, hospitals, and agencies of charity; encouraging our brother priests, bishops, deacons, and consecrated women and men religious; supporting our pastors – and getting more of them! – and our parishes; forming future priests well; loving our married couples and our families, and defending the dignity of marriage; protecting life where it is most in danger because of war, poverty, or abortion; and reinforcing the universal call to holiness given all in the Church.
Those are the “big issues.” You may find that hard to believe, since the “word on the street” is that all we talk about is corruption in the Vatican, sexual abuse, money. Do these topics come up? Yes! Do they dominate? No!
A journalist – and, by the way, the reporters from home have been mostly amazingly patient, attentive, and thoughtfully curious – asked if the new Pope would bring radical change to the Church. She seemed surprised when I replied, yes! At least I had her full attention! I then went on to clarify that the Church was “big-time” into change; namely, a change in the human heart, which Jesus called repentance or conversion. The “job description” of the Bishop of Rome is to conserve the faith, the truths of which have been revealed to us by God, especially through His Son, Jesus, faithfully passed on by His Church these past 2000 years, and to renew the invitation of Jesus to a change of heart.
So these days in Rome are hardly about the “board of governors” meeting to discuss changes to Church “policy,” but about how to present timeless beliefs more effectively.
Do names come up? Sure. But the name most spoken about is the Most Holy Name of Jesus!
Would you say His Holy Name and ask Him to send us His grace and mercy? Thanks!