This comes from Rome, where the sun is shining brightly, the sky is deep blue, the breeze is warm, the wine flows, and the pasta is al dente… and you are jealous!
It has been a full week. Last Thursday and Friday, the entire College of Cardinals met with Pope Francis to discuss marriage and family. The cardinals spoke as pastors, very aware of the threats to marriage and family, attacks from culture, the state and entertainment, for instance; but also of the beauty, nobility, and poetry of God’s grand gifts of husband, wife, father, mother, and children. How can we propose to the world anew the grandeur of family, and defend marriage, without wringing hands and manning the barricades? How better can we preach the truth with love?
The cardinals also pushed the image of the Church as family: God, our Father; Mary, our mother; Jesus, our older brother; the saints, our elders; our fellow Catholics, our siblings. Like any family, we have our dysfunction, but we come to our supernatural family for rebirth in baptism, nourishment at the Eucharist, reconciliation in penance, maturity in confirmation, solidarity in prayer and charity. We are born into this family of the Church, and we long to die in her embrace.
The consistory itself, welcoming the nineteen new cardinals and their people from all over the world, took place on Saturday and Sunday. Pope-emeritus Benedict ”stole the show,” with his humble, unexpected presence, quietly joining the rest of us in prayer. It had been a year since we had seen him, and he brought joy to our hearts.
Yesterday and today I’ve been at meetings to plan the Synod of Bishops slated for October, 2014, and October, 2015, both on the topic of — you guessed it — marriage and family. It’s very clear that Pope Francis wants to use these synods — meetings in Rome among the Pope and elected delegates from bishops around the world, along with clergy, sisters, and laity present as experts and observers — as a regular and respected form of his governance and teaching. He is big into listening, as was clear to us as he sat with ears open in the two days of consistory, and our meetings for synod preparation.
With all this going on, I have not had much time to savor the sun, sky, breeze, wine, or pasta!
So, tomorrow, I’ll be home again after this week in the Eternal City, happy to be with you, yet relishing a return here the Sunday after Easter for the canonizations of Blessed John XXIII and Blessed John Paul II.