The Holy Father is a strong, forceful preacher, speaking with insistence, even impatience, on fire with enthusiasm. Very much the pastor of the flock, very much the pastor who looks for the scattered sheep, and they are wandering until the come to know the greatest love of our lives, the Lord Jesus, Son of the Immaculate Conception. A million some of the flock were present for the Mass…
At the offertory, where we are drawn in to be offered with the Lord Jesus in His Sacrifice to our Heavenly Father, the prayers of the saints arising as incense before the throne of the Most High in union with Him who is our Priest, Prophet and King.
And, of course, the consecration, spoken slowly, deliberately, with great devotion and love, extremely aware of the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ in his lowly hands. He speaks with great love of this moment of the Mass, pointing to it as the motivation for vocations to the priesthood. No one, absolutely no one can promote vocations to the priesthood in this way without being an intense believer, without being someone who knows that our Lord and Savior is right with him. Pope Francis, promoter of vocations!
We receive his priestly blessing, in gratitude.
When I was a chaplain in Lourdes, after offering Holy Mass in the upper Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, I would turn to the statue of our Lady while we sang the Salve Regina. The Holy Father rushed to be before the image of our Lady for the singing of the Salve Regina. Don’t doubt for a second that our Holy Father will be a force with which to be reckoned, and that he will be the one doing the reckoning!
The people of Rome love him, as do we all…
The bells ring out as the Te Deum, the Church’s hymn of thanksgiving, is chanted.
Yes. There is more to life than red shoes and mozzettas and such. Mind you, I have nothing against those things. I don’t think Pope Francis does either. He doesn’t waste his time on having something against anything. He isn’t a schizoid Judas Pope as some make him out to be, a traitor, an imbecile. No, no. The lack of some of the trappings as they call them is not a dichotomy that would sunder Christ in the poor, so that we do not appropriately honor the Divine Son of God and of the Immaculate Conception with the poor. No, no. Instead, the Holy Father is impatient to do that which is appropriate, which is NOT to say minimalist — an ideology of unbelievers — but which is to say that he has another goal in mind other than asserting that he is here or there on a commentator imposed spectrum of degrees of richness in papal and even liturgical finery. There is another way of looking at things.
Sure, rich liturgical vestments do not speak of the glory of the priest, which, as has been rightly and beautifully pointed out, would be absurd, but rather to Christ Jesus, the Priest. Yes, I agree with that. Kudos and all that! However…
It is not illegitimate to point to the glorious nature of the Sacrifice of the Mass — and we beheld His glory, the glory of the only begotten Son of God — by using simple vestments, emphasizing in this way that great respect can be given to the Lord with… wait for it… noble simplicity!
I can hear all the howling of so very many all the way out here on the forest mountaintops, here at the hermitage in Western North Carolina! Yikes!
But let me ask you this: Is the hermeneutic on continuity not to be applied in this case, so that the words noble simplicity are emptied of their meaning? Noble simplicity does not mean burlap potato sack vestments. But Pope Francis has not worn such things, has he? No. People are throwing a nutty for another motive. I don’t know what that is. That’s up to them. But the nutty does no one any good. Continuously denouncing the Holy Father from the get-go without a moment’s thought to the fact that he may be trying to lead us as the Father of the Family of Faith on this earth is just plain wrong.
Just to say, the vestments that the Holy Father wore on this day are very similar to vestments that one will find in most parishes right around the world. This is a determined choice of our Holy Father. He is also trying to teach us something just as Benedict XVI also tried to teach us the same thing in a different way. They are not contradictory, one cancelling out the other. Pope Francis also points exquisitely to the Crucified and Risen Lord Jesus.
Oh, and just to say. The environment thing in his homily… I’ve mentioned that at length before: HERE.
This is a typical Jesuit approach. This is the calm before the storm of reckoning comes. That reckoning will be done unanswerable firmness, but also with mercy for those who want it. Changes will be made, with a stunningly calm ferocity.
Our Lord is just that good, just that kind.
Update: Just to say: Some have been worried about Holy Communion being given to certain politicians. It has never been a practice to distribute Holy Communion to those in the dignitaries section for this and very many other reasons, even if they are devout Catholics and ferocious supporters of the Holy Father.