Tuesday, March 19, 2013

St. Joseph Day 2013

St. Joseph is the "Quiet Man." who speaks not a word in the Scriptures. Yet he is the Patron of the Universal Church, Foster Father of Jesus Christ, and Spouse of the Virgin Mary. St. Joseph too is Patron of all fathers of families, of carpenters, builders, of families and more. It is especially fitting that today in Rome Pope Francis celebrated his inaugural Mass on this day which commemorates St. Joseph. It is a day when the Gloria--usually not prayed in Lent--is recited or sung, and the Creed is recited at all Masses too.
I just finished watching the inaugural Mass on the Vatican's TV service.
There were no commentaries, just the filming of the Pope's entrance into St. Peter's riding the uncovered Pope Mobile. 
From his elevated Pope Mobile Francis noticed a young man holding up a crippled elderly man. The Pope descended his vehicle and went up to the railing to embrace the handicapped gentleman. The elder person's face broke into a huge smile. It was a touching scene.
 Having been in St. Peter's several times and also having spent hours straining to see the late John Paul II, I could almost feel myself present in the crowds greeting Pope Francis.
The Mass was celebrated in Latin; the readings were in English and Spanish; a choir boy led the assembly in Latin by singing the responsorial psalm. A deacon sang the gospel of Matthew in Greek. At Papal Masses, Greek is used to represent the eastern "lung" of the church. The other "lung" is the west which uses Latin as its main liturgical  language.
The Pope's homily centered on taking care of the poor among us, but also taking care of ourselves too. He said we should not be afraid to love tenderly. Tenderness is not a sign of weakness, he pointed out, but a sign of strength.
Before the Mass began Pope Francis received the pallium, a circle of white wool with five crosses which symbolizes his role as chief pastor of the Church. He also received a ring -- the Fisherman's Ring--symbol of his role as successor of Peter. Again at the end of his homily he asked us to pray for him. May we pray for him and listen to his words. If we practice what he is preaching, God's kingdom will grow on this earth.
Earlier today I read Pope Francis' pastoral letter to his Buenos Aires Archdiocese for Lent. It is available on line in this week's installment of our Discover Hope newsletter. (To subscribe to Pauline Books & Media's Discover Hope weekly newsletter, email: discoverhope@paulinemedia.com.)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Habemus Papam! Pope Francis

Yesterday a few of our Sisters here received text messages, and I had a text and a phone call from family: There's a new Pope!
After the Cardinal announced those famous words, "Habemus Papam", We have a Pope, it seemed so long before the newly elected Successor of St. Peter appeared on the loggia, the balcony where we all could see him. I heard the name in Latin, then the announcement came in English.
With my handy laptop computer, I was able to receive live streaming video of the history making events in St. Peter's Square. At least three of our American Sisters were squeezed into the joy-filled crowds waiting to hear the name of the new Pontiff. We in the TV/Internet audience were more fortunate because we could hear distinctly the name of the Cardinal, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who is now our Pope. When Pope Francis asked us to pray for him before he imparted his first Papal Blessings, he asked us all to pray for him. United with the faithful in St. Peter's, we three gathered in front of my laptop screen prayed for our new Pope.
This morning at breakfast our chaplain remarked: A Jesuit wearing  Dominican garb with a Franciscan name--what a combination. Or, rather, what a marvelous blend of gifts to lead our church. Today we had a steady wind rattling our old windows and shaking our tree branches. During EWTN's evening broadcast tonight a brisk wind was shaking the shrubs behind Raymond Arroyo and his panelists. Perhaps this windy weather symbolizes the wind of the Holy Spirit shaking us, moving us, and converting us to a deeper life of prayer and action as committed followers of Christ.
I look forward to the powerful witness of Pope Francis as he begins to serve in this Year of Faith. Pray this short prayer for him: "Lord, cover with thy protection our Holy Father the Pope. Be his light, his strength, his consolation.  Amen."

Friday, March 08, 2013

Historic Times

Today a woman rushed into our Alexandria, Virginia Book&Media Center saying aloud to any who would hear: "Cardinal Wuerl is going to be elected Pope, and the Conclave begins on Tuesday!"
As to Cardinal Wuerl's being elected Pope, that remains to be seen. Being Archbishop/Cardinal of the capitol of the United States of America, Cardinal Wuerl would have an unenviable position.
The Holy Spirit knows who will be the best man to guide the boat of Peter as Bishop of Rome.


We Catholics are committed to praying for the election of the Pope, praying for the Cardinal electors and for an openness to the Holy Spirit for all of us. I subscribed to an email invitation to "Adopt a Cardinal." This program started in German and assigns each "adoptive prayer" a Cardinal to pray for. My adopted Cardinal  is Cardinal Hummes from Brazil.
The Holy Spirit is guiding the Church.
In the past week, my family buried our last Uncle from the World War II generation. In the early morning hours of the same day as our Uncle's funeral, my youngest sister's husband suffered a severe allergic reaction. Unable to breathe, Dennis died about 3:00 AM Friday.
Without warning we were faced with  sorrow once more. "The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Dennis had retired from his work for the Army Corps of Engineers seven years ago. One of his part-time jobs since then was the work of mercy--burying the dead--of our mostly rural Township.May Dennis and Uncle Bill rest in peace and may our grieving extended family be given much peace.
I was in Philadelphia for about nine days. Sister Maria Elizabeth and I had several events. Folks were very appreciative of our coming to their parish and the other events. It was good to see many of our dear Philadelphia friends.We keep praying that soon we will re-open in that vast Archdiocese.
As I near the end of this night's blog entry, I ask you all to pray with the whole church for the election of our new Pope; pray for our pope Emeritus; and for all those who are not free to practice their faith. Amen!