Pope Francis’ sermon for his “enthronement” at St. John Lateran

Pope Francis took possession of his cathedral church today.  As Bishop of Rome his cathedral is the Basilica of St. John Lateran.  The Mass today was for his “enthronement” (Italian “insediamento”).

I think that we might have a new challenge in the preaching of Francis: Can you identify the “three words” around which he builds his sermons? That’s an old Jesuit preaching technique and Francis generally sticks to it. He may not say what the words are up front, but we might be able to dig them out.  I’ll give it a try as I go through the sermon.  You might try your hand.

Here is his sermon, with my emphases and comments.  I inserted his “drop-ins”, from when he went off text, without any brackets, etc.

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

It is with joy that I am celebrating the Eucharist for the first time in this Lateran Basilica, the Cathedral of the Bishop of Rome. I greet all of you with great affection: the Cardinal Vicar, the auxiliary bishops, the diocesan presbyterate, the deacons, the men and women religious, and all the lay faithful. Together let us walk in the light of the risen Lord.

Today we are celebrating the Second Sunday of Easter, also known as “Divine Mercy Sunday”. What a beautiful truth of faith this is for our lives: the mercy of God! God’s love for us is so great, so deep; it is an unfailing love, one which always takes us by the hand and supports us, lifts us up and leads us on.

In today’s Gospel, the Apostle Thomas personally experiences this mercy of God, which has a concrete face, the face of Jesus, the risen Jesus. Thomas does not believe it when the other Apostles tell him: “We have seen the Lord”. It isn’t enough for him that Jesus had foretold it, promised it: “On the third day I will rise”. He wants to see, he wants to put his hand in the place of the nails and in Jesus’ side. And how does Jesus react? With patience: Jesus does not abandon Thomas in his stubborn unbelief; he gives him a week’s time, he does not close the door, he waits. And Thomas acknowledges his own poverty, his little faith. “My Lord and my God!”: with this simple yet faith-filled invocation, he responds to Jesus’ patience. He lets himself be enveloped by divine mercy; he sees it before his eyes, in the wounds of Christ’s hands and feet and in his open side, and he discovers trust: he is a new man, no longer an unbeliever, but a believer.
Let us also remember Peter: three times he denied Jesus, precisely when he should have been closest to him; and when he hits bottom he meets the gaze of Jesus who patiently, wordlessly, says to him: “Peter, don’t be afraid of your weakness, trust in me”. Peter understands, he feels the loving gaze of Jesus, and he weeps. How beautiful is this gaze of Jesus – how much tenderness is there! Brothers and sisters, let us never lose trust in the patience and mercy of God!

Let us think too of the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: their sad faces, their barren journey, their despair. But Jesus does not abandon them: he walks beside them, and not only that! Patiently he explains the Scriptures which spoke of him, and he stays to share a meal with them. This is God’s way of doing things: he is not impatient like us, who often want everything all at once, even in our dealings with other people. God is patient with us because he loves us, and those who love are able to understand, to hope, to inspire confidence; they do not give up, they do not burn bridges, they

are able to forgive. Let us remember this in our lives as Christians: God always waits for us, even when we have left him behind! He is never far from us, and if we return to him, he is ready to embrace us.

I am always struck when I reread the parable of the merciful Father; it impresses me because it always gives me great hope. Think of that younger son who was in the Father’s house, who was loved; and yet he wants his part of the inheritance; he goes off, spends everything, hits rock bottom, where he could not be more distant from the Father, yet when he is at his lowest, he misses the warmth of the Father’s house and he goes back. And the Father? Had he forgotten the son? No, never. He is there, he sees the son from afar, he was waiting for him every hour of every day, the son was always in his father’s heart, even though he had left him, even though he had squandered his whole inheritance, his freedom. The Father, with patience, love, hope and mercy, had never for a second stopped thinking about him, and as soon as he sees him still far off, he runs out to meet him and embraces him with tenderness, the tenderness of God, without a word of reproach: he is back! And that’s the joy of a father.  And in the father’s embrace of his son there is all this joy. He has come back.  God is always waiting for us, he never grows tired. Jesus shows us this merciful patience of God so that we can regain confidence, hope – always! The German theologian Romano Guardini said that God responds to our weakness by his patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope (cf. Glaubenserkenntnis, Würzburg, 1949, p. 28). [The mention of Guardini should prompt us to remember both Benedict XVI, who was deeply influenced by Guardini, and also that Francis himself had considered writing his thesis on Guardini.  But did Guardini influence more Francis’ private prayer-life or his liturgical style of prayer?]  

It’s like a dialogue between our weakness and God’s patience. A dialogue … when we have this dialogue it gives us hope.

I would like to emphasize one other thing: God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him, however many mistakes and sins there may be in our life. Jesus tells Thomas to put his hand in the wounds of his hands and his feet, and in his side. We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus, we can actually touch him. [The Gospel does not say that Thomas actually did what Jesus said, but it is certainly an acceptable reading.] This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith. Saint Bernard, in a fine homily, says: “Through the wounds of Jesus I can suck honey from the rock and oil from the flinty rock (cf. Deut 32:13), I can taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (On the Song of Songs, 61:4). It is there, in the wounds of Jesus, that we are truly secure; there we encounter the boundless love of his heart. Thomas understood this. Saint Bernard goes on to ask: What can I count on? On my own merits? No, “My merit is God’s mercy. I am by no means lacking merits as long as he is rich in mercy. If the mercies of the Lord are manifold, I too will abound in merits” (ibid., 5). This is important: the courage to trust in Jesus’ mercy, to trust in his patience, to seek refuge always in the wounds of his love. Saint Bernard even states: “So what if my conscience gnaws at me for my many sins? ‘Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more’ (Rom 5:20)” (ibid.). Someone may think: my sin is so great, I am as far from God as the younger son in the parable, my unbelief is like that of Thomas; I don’t have the courage to go back, to believe that God can welcome me and that he is waiting for me, of all people. But God is indeed waiting for you; he asks of you only the courage to go to him. How many times in my pastoral ministry have I heard it said: “Father, I have many sins”; and I have always pleaded: “Don’t be afraid, go to him, he is waiting for you, he will take care of everything”.  [Go to confession!] We hear many offers from the world around us; but let us take up God’s offer instead: his is a caress of love. For God, we are not numbers, we are important, indeed we are the most important thing to him; even if we are sinners, we are what is closest to his heart.

Adam, after his sin, experiences shame, he feels naked, he senses the weight of what he has done; and yet God does not abandon him: if that moment of sin marks the beginning of his exile from God, there is already a promise of return, a possibility of return. God immediately asks: “Adam, where are you?” He seeks him out. Jesus took on our nakedness, he took upon himself the shame of Adam, the nakedness of his sin, in order to wash away our sin: by his wounds we have been healed. Remember what Saint Paul says: “What shall I boast of, if not my weakness, my poverty? Precisely in feeling my sinfulness, in looking at my sins, I can see and encounter God’s mercy, his love, and go to him to receive forgiveness.

In my own life, I have so often seen God’s merciful countenance, his patience; I have also seen so many people find the courage to enter the wounds of Jesus by saying to him: Lord, I am here, accept my poverty,, hide my sin in your wounds, wash it away with your blood. And I have always seen that God did just this – he accepted them, consoled them, cleansed them, loved them.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us be enveloped by the mercy of God; let us trust in his patience, which always gives us more time. Let us find the courage to return to his house, to dwell in his loving wounds, allowing ourselves be loved by him and to encounter his mercy in the sacraments. We will feel his tenderness – so beautiful – we will feel his embrace, and we too will become more capable of mercy, patience, forgiveness and love.


I think that his three words for this sermon are patience, trust and courage.

There was no reference to Mary at the end, as Pope’s often have done.  No mention of his present ministry, though he spoke about personal experience in his past ministry.

In the meantime, the imposition of a new liturgical style continues… though we must remember that this is at the Lateran, and therefore the Vicariate of Rome had a big hand in what is going on.  Responsorial psalm sung with great … how to put it… feeling, rather than a Gradual.  There is some Gregorian chant side by side with the sickly-sweet treacly goop that we usually hear around the Lateran and other Roman churches… o the sorrow and woe.  There was also some polyphony from the Sistina.  Francis carried with him the staff of John Paul II instead of the ferula of a Roman Pontiff.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. mamajen says:

    I was going to say love instead of courage, but thinking about it more, love is closely tied to patience (“Love is patient”, after all).

  2. Ignatius says:

    “We too can enter into the wounds of Jesus, we can actually touch him” [The Gospel does not say that Thomas actually did what Jesus said, but it is certainly an acceptable reading.]

    The way I read it, he does not explicitly affirm that Thomas actually did touch the Lord, he simply says that Jesus allowed him to do so, as the Lord allows us to do too. Which is correct.

    In any case, it is a possible reading that Thomas did touch the Lord. Caravaggio painted this possible scene beautifully.

    Best regards,

  3. acardnal says:

    This Mass will be rebroadcast on EWTN at 6:30 pm ET/5:30 CT.

  4. Adam says:

    Yes. Papa Francesco has now ‘taken back’ the staff that John Paul II used for most of his papacy and which was inaugurated by Paul VI. Benedict brought back the gold ferula. But i have always thought Francesco would use the more simple crozier which shows Christ crucified and it has taken him just 26 days to do so. I expected this and now i think we will see him use this staff on all visits outside of the Vatican and especially overseas. Easier to use and far more powerful in my opinion.
    Another style change.
    Today Francesco touched and kissed many invalid children. It was most touching and moving to see them grip his arms and hold on to him as he kissed them and blessed them. Very moving on the day of the Lord’s mercy. [That’s what all Popes do, of course.]

  5. mamajen says:

    Anyone know where I could watch this online? Does EWTN live stream? I had to miss mass today due to a wretched cold.

  6. vox borealis says:

    the more simple crozier which shows Christ crucified

    What makes it simpler?? But yes, it’s back, and now probably for the rest of my life. Oh well. Benedict’s reform of the reform was fun while it lasted.

  7. Raymond says:

    This Pope has been using the same white mitre and chasuble since his inauguration. I don’t want to be disrespectful, but this particular exercise in “humility” is becoming a little bit silly for me–sorry. He could have worn a vestment set used by JPII to match his crozier, for instance.

    In the pontificates of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, I would often take the time and effort to watch papal liturgical celebrations on TV. Now, I simply browse online on blogs like this in order to keep me abreast on what goes on across the Tiber. Thank you, Fr. Z.

  8. Christopher says:

    Anyone know where I could watch this online?



    http://www.vatican.va/video/index.html (which has a built in calendar to help with future events).

    God Bless.

  9. jbosco88 says:

    The reappearance of that horrific piece of Tin has destroyed the remote hopes I had that the present Pope would retain or grow a love of Liturgy bad Benedict XVI has. This really is horrible. Guess that audience with Marini I last week is a hint? Back into the trenches we go.

    Ven Pope Pius XII pray for us. [Good grief.]

  10. jbosco88 says:

    bad should read “as”. Stupid autocorrect.

  11. frjim4321 says:

    Thank you for this. I could have used it 24 hours ago for homily prep.

    I really love that church and that cathedra!

    Best to all…

  12. mamajen says:


    Thank you!

  13. acardnal says:

    mamajen, EWTN LiveStreams so you can watch in real time what is being broadcast live.

    Go to http://www.ewtn.com. Put your cursor over “Television.” From the drop down list select “Live TV – English ***LiveStreams***”, “United States English”

    So, at 6:30 pm EDT you should be able to watch the broadcast via the Internet.

  14. Mitchell NY says:

    Not so much the staff is ugly, but the indifferent attitude of Pope Francis to the liturgical causes of Pope Benedict and a sense of restoration he reflected, drawing many back from the distrustful calamity after Vatican II, speaks volumes to me about this Pope’s sensitivity a part of the Church. I don’t see the humility in this. To offend sensibilities like this so rapidly is exactly what the clergy in the Church apologized for following the implementation of Vat II’s agenda.

  15. Raymond says:

    One of the questions that I have not seen nor heard asked is: how have priestly vocations progressed in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires during Card. Bergoglio’s tenure there? Increased? Decreased? Stagnant? I would be very interested to know. Does anyone have links to reliable sources?

  16. kenisonray says:

    Pope Francis is destroying the solemnity due the Mass and greatly lowering the status of the office 0f Pope. He is reversing all of the good that Benedict XVI did to show the continuity of the post Vatican II Church with the pre-Vatican II Church. The Church is heading back to the disorder and confusion that followed Vatican II. [You are amazing. He has been Pope for 26 days and you can see all that?]
    Kenison Ray

  17. Cheesesteak Expert says:

    Why create a gap where none should exist, and then lament its existence? To put some many hopes, dreams and aspirations into one man is just a distraction at best, and an aberration at most. Why are so many so dependent on somebody other than their local ordinary and the bevy of saints?

  18. Ignatius says:

    @Raymond: vocations have been falling steadily on Card. Bergoglio watch. The seminary offers a poor programme of priestly formation. Do not take my word for it. John Allen says:

    “It also seems clear that Bergoglio wasn’t perfect, despite the fact that it’s hard right now to find many Argentines willing to say so out loud. For instance, vocations to the priesthood have been falling in Buenos Aires on his watch, despite the fact they’re up in some other dioceses. Last year the archdiocese ordained just twelve new priests, as opposed to 40-50 per year when Bergoglio took over. (For the record, people say that Bergoglio did his best to support his priests and seminarians, taking a special interest in seminary life.) ”

    Source: http://ncronline.org/blogs/all-things-catholic/who-francis-may-be-based-who-bergoglio-was

    Best regards,

  19. frjim4321 says:

    Well, I liked the Paul VI staff in the contemporary style very much, however I would hope that eventually Pope Francis will have a new staff that can be emblematic of his pontificate as the Paul VI staff was for John Paul II.

  20. Adam says:

    ‘….that horrific piece of Tin’ jbo refers to is indeed the Cross of the crucified Lord Jesus Christ who gave his life for the whole of humanity and the staff which the Blessed and saintly John Paul II and his two predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II carried with solemnity and edification.
    It is no piece of tin at all as three previous and now one new Successor of Peter witness to.

  21. Nicandro says:

    People are getting cross about the Holy Cross over at other blogs. Why? 2007 is such a long time ago now. The traditional respectful liturgy is patently no longer top of the bill. We just better get used to it. One wonders, respectfully what is going to happen to blog sites such as this one that made a name from all the talk of the Reform of the Reform. These are bold words from Fr Z back then. The music and vestments were good then too. To be alive at such times was bliss.


    Benedict XVI to be fair has did use the bent cross as have all Holy Fathers since Paul VI. While folk at other blogs are having the “vapours” (again..) I’m just praying for an end to all this confusion. It must mean nothing. Sedevacantists and Protestant anti Vatican types had vapours too when JPII first made this Cross popular. See – http://www.cuttingedge.org/articles/rc100.htm

  22. marylise says:

    In addition to patience, trust and courage, Pope Francis makes several allusions to the Sacred Wounds of the Divine Saviour. The Church traditionally had a Feast of the Five Wounds on March 15, though this is seldom mentioned anymore. (See, for example, the writings of Sister Josefa Menendez (1890-1923) on the Way of Divine Love.) Interestingly, Felicitas Goodman (1914-2005), the anthropologist who wrote The Exorcism of Anneliese Michel (basis of film The Exorcism of Emily Rose), said that during the exorcisms of Anneliese Michel, the demons had pronounced reactions of fear to the Litany of the Five Sacred Wounds. (The demons were also terrified of holy water, blessed objects, the Rosary, the Lord’s prayer, the Hail Mary, the Magnificat, the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, invocation of guardian angels and pictures of Pope Pius X.) Goodman bases these observations on actual tape recordings of the exorcisms, which she used for her research.

  23. Legisperitus says:

    (whispered at Mass)

    Marini: “Your Holiness, you’ve got to sit there.”

    Francis: “No, I’ll stand.”

    Marini: “But Holy Father, it’s an enthronement.

    Francis: “No.”

    Marini: “Holy Fatherrrrrrrrrrrr…

  24. Laura Lea says:

    This was simply a most beautiful homily by our new Pope Francis. His homilies and manner of living out the gospel is refreshing. Thank you Father Z for printing it on your blog today! Peace.

  25. Veronica says:

    I also would like to see some more solemn vestments, but honestly I think some people here are not even listening to the words of Pope Francis. Some are behaving like a vestment police, only paying attention to what chasuble or crosier will the Pope use, then get mad at not seeing what they would like and they fail to get the message.

    I am following the Pope masses and I have not seen them being celebrated in an unworthy, shameful manner. We have seen some awful celebrations like the horrible liturgies in LA, with vestal dancers, puppets, Santas appearing after communion, Charlie Brown music during Christmas mass, and lousy Marty Haugen hymns.

    I don’t think Pope Francis will reverse SP, but I do think his primary concern is the people, and I think his message is reaching far beyond what you may think. I have heard how people that has been away from Chruch for decades, are thinking about comng back, just because they are listening to the Pope’s words. Even my 83 year old grandma thatbhadn’t been to church in almost 40 years, after she divorced (feeling “unworthy” to come back, even though she never remarry or had another partner) has been a couple of times back. This gives me hope, how many more like my grandma are thinking about coming back? That’s why precisely Jesus came for, for the people, and Pope Francis’ message is hitting home. Let us pray for Pope Francis, not for him to use the fancier vestments (that may eventually come), but for him to be a Pope after God’s own heart.

  26. mamajen says:

    Thank you to those who provided links. I was watching it on YouTube earlier and it did me a world of good. Still have a ways to go to get through it all, but had to put it aside for now. While I know kissing babies, etc. isn’t unique to Francis, I have to admit that I didn’t follow previous popes all that closely–a lot of this I am seeing for the first time. Seeing the security guards passing the babies along to the Pope made me laugh, and seeing the disabled people in some cases sobbing made me cry, too. It’s beautiful how much the papacy means to people.

  27. frjim4321 says:

    Hi, Laura Lea, I agree with your comment! It was a wonderful homily. I wish I had heard it sooner, it would have helped me with my own homily. Mine could have used a boost this weekend.

  28. netokor says:

    Nicandro, thanks for the link. Alas, those were the days:
    “[Good liturgy points to mystery. Bad liturgy destroys our faith.]”

  29. Supertradmum says:

    I discovered Guardini in the 1970s by accident and was the only one I knew who was reading him. He caused a change in my private prayer life, rather than a change in the liturgy, as I was stuck deep in NO abuse land for years in Iowa and Minnesota, the land of the minimalist liturgies in the 1970s. However, Guardini gave me hope that things would change and these did.

    I am very pleased that the Pope has a fondness of this good writer. I can understand someone being affected privately by such books. One of my favourite phrases of his is this: “The first and most important lesson which the liturgy has to teach is that the prayer of a corporate body must be sustained by thought. The prayers of the liturgy are entirely governed by and interwoven with dogmaThose who are unfamiliar with liturgical prayer often regard them as theological formula, artistic and didactic, until on closer acquaintance they suddenly perceive and admit that the clear-cut, lucidly constructed phrases are full of interior enlightenment. To give an outstanding example, the wonderful Collects of the Masses of Sunday may be quoted. Wherever the stream of prayer wells abundantly upwards, it is always guided into safe channels by means of plain and lucid thought. Interspersed among the pages of the Missal and the Breviary are readings from Holy Scripture and from the works of the Fathers, which continually stimulate thought. Often these readings are introduced and concluded by short prayers of a characteristically contemplative and reflective nature–the antiphons–during which that which has been heard or read has time to cease echoing and to sink into the mind. The liturgy, the “lex orandi,” is, according to the old proverb, the law of faith–the “lex credendi”–as well. It is the treasure-house of the thought of Revelation.”

    This sounds like the backdrop for a famous priest’s blog.

  30. Good Homily, I am afraid though that the words of Pope Francis will be lost in the de-construction of the solemnity of the Mass.

  31. Raymond says:

    @Ignatius: Thank you. Just as I suspected {sigh} It’s almost the same case as what happened in Brussels, Belgium, with Card. Danneels.

  32. Ignatius says:

    @Raymond: you are welcome.

    But Card. Bergoglio is no Card. Daneels. He is not a “liberal” ideologue. I would say that he is rather orthodox (he would not tolerate “women ordination” movements, he would not use ambiguous language regarding the Real Presence, etc) , but he is just stuck -aesthetically, ideologically- in the 70’s, very much like the rest of our country (that translates into a very “bland” and aesthetically unpleasant liturgy… devoting resource to beauty is simply a “waste”, in his mind). And first and foremost, he is a “politician”, a person who will always say what you want to hear. But you’ll never know what he really think. In that sense, Mr. Allen’s articles to which I provided a link are very good, because that is the consensus here about him personally.

    Best regards,

  33. Ignatius says:

    Sorry for the typos.

  34. Medjugorje Man 07 says:

    What did I miss?

  35. Bea says:

    That crosier has drawn us into the “rabbit hole”
    For the record I don’t like it either

    But his sermon, I thought, was excellent.
    God’s Patience is our Hope for His Mercy.
    Those were the 3 words I got out of it (mainly):
    His Patience
    His Mercy
    our Hope.

  36. govmatt says:

    Comment on the sermon: awesome.
    Comment on the liturgy: it served its purpose and had a distinct point. Hear me out.

    If you watch the Vatican coverage you notice that before taking possession of St. John’s, the Pope oversaw the naming of an exterior piazza dedicated to Bl. John Paul II. Likewise, Sr. Kowalska was Polish (Russo-Polish) and today is Divine Mercy. Taken en toto, the crosier was an appropriate homage to his venerable predecessor.

    On the Italian criticisms: This was the Bishop of Rome in his titular Church. While some criticize His Holiness’ fondness for his pastoral duty as Bishop of Rome, he is quite clear in the matter. There were no prayers in English, Arabic, Chinese, or Spanish: this mass was for the Roman People.

    Even the most critical eyes aren’t so clouded to miss the Pope’s genuine attention to the Eucharist (despite what seemed to be choral attempts to speed up his veneration). Also, re: no Mary, the recessional hymn was the Regina Coeli

    It’s clear that Pope Francis is keenly aware of the messages sent by liturgy. (And let’s not forget, Msgr Marini is still by his side.)

  37. NickD says:

    What I want to know is, how long will Msgr. Marini be allowed to continue in his current service to the Holy Father? I don’t know if he is “humble” enough for Pope Francis. For all we know, he could try to give the Pope a different set of vestments. The horrors!

  38. haven’t been around in awhile. Decided to wait to read how the Church was going downhill under the short lived Pontificate of Our Holy Father,Francis. not disappointed in the expectation at all.
    “In the pontificates of Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI, I would often take the time and effort to watch papal liturgical celebrations on TV. Now, I simply browse online on blogs like this in order to keep me abreast on what goes on across the Tiber. Fr Z’s blog is terrific. Wouldn’t want anyone to miss it. Sorry you’re missing the papal liturgical celebrations. I can recall when we didn’t have this opportunity.
    “Precisely, and whether it is the Holy Father’s indifference or outright hostility, the effect is the same: degradation of his office and of the liturgy. not sure how Pope Francis is degrading the office or the liturgy? ”

    Good Homily, I am afraid though that the words of Pope Francis will be lost in the de-construction of the solemnity of the Mass.”
    how was the Mass not solemn? You’re referring to the Mass at St John Lateran? One way to make sure the words are not lost.Listen and take them to heart.
    “What I want to know is, how long will Msgr. Marini be allowed to continue in his current service to the Holy Father?” When Pope Francis was elected swear there were ppl who thought he was going to get tossed the day after.

  39. I have been reading the various comments about personal likes and dislikes on the part of the contributors. It seems that the Pope is being judged by his style or lack of it in matters liturgical. There is some measured merit in the criticisms of his vestments and ferula and the like. But perhaps some of us are overly concerned about the external aspects and have not looked at the man in prayer. There is no doubt in my mind that the Pope truly enters into the Spirit of the Liturgy, is sober in his demeanor and his attitude of prayer. I have known many priests who were not the greatest when it came to the externals of the Liturgy, but who were, nevertheless, devout and focused upon serving the Lord Christ with their entire being. Take the time to watch and listen and avoid the pitfalls of judgement of the person of the Pope based upon what your own preferences might be. Remember that each of us will be judged by the judgement by which we criticize others. It is Mercy Sunday; try showing some in order to gain in extra measure from the Source of Divine Mercy. Forgive me for my bluntness.

  40. Pingback: A blast from the past: all about Pope Francis’ crozier

  41. RidersOnTheStorm says:

    Mercy, Forgiveness, Love

  42. thomas69 says:

    No doubt the Holy Father has certain liturgical preferences that leave many (including myself) sighing, but I sometimes wonder if his reluctance to wear the papal mozzetta and red shoes, or his apparent discomfort with using the Petrine title, are due more to his respect and esteem for the person of the Emeritus pope than a consequence of wanting to avoid fanfare. Let’s remember that although Francis has cut a new path for himself, he continues to exercise his ministry in the august shadow of Benedict whose holy legacy is still unfolding not so many miles away. Could it be that the humility of Francis prevents the new pope from wearing the full regalia of the Petrine Office in deference to the old pope who is still very much alive? Could this be an act of fraternal love and reverence for an ‘older brother’ whom much of the liberal world has already forgotten, but whose memory the new pope might not be so ready to cast aside (as seen in the moving video when they met in Castel Gandolfo). Everything about Francis so far suggests he is deeply sensitive to the sufferings of others. I suspect that the Holy Father is fully appreciative of the great humility, courage and sacrifice of such a Godly man as Benedict. Without question, the pope will celebrate the funeral of Benedict with great solemnity when that sad day comes, paying great tribute to his venerable predecessor. But when the final requiem is sung and the great Benedict is entombed with noble dignity and love, I wouldn’t be surprised if Francis feels himself more at ease to assume the proper dress and title of pope, without feeling like he’s taking something away from the life and legacy of a great man whose pontificate the Church continues to be indebted to. One can only hope of course.

  43. mamajen says:

    For goodness sake, people! I know we’re not necessarily supposed to have happiness in this world, but I don’t think God meant for us to actually strive for misery.

    You know that Pope Benedict carried that very same ferula on numerous occasions, right? If you didn’t, a quick image search of “Pope Benedict” will enlighten you. Just one of the many examples of people flipping out when Pope Francis does something that Pope Benedict did, too.

    There are other venues that are more than happy to allow people to nitpick the Pope to their heart’s content. Why must you rain on everyone’s parade here?

  44. “In the meantime, the imposition of a new liturgical style continues”

    For instance, the Roman canon was recited in Italian, rather than Latin as used by Benedict in his recent papal Masses in St. John Lateran. However, though this seems a jarring departure from recent papal Masses, it might be argued that a vernacular canon is justifiable in a papal Mass for the people of Rome in the cathedral church of Rome. As opposed to a papal Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica.

  45. SimonDodd says:

    Why does he refuse to wear a mitre during his homilies?

  46. mamajen: “Just one of the many examples of people flipping out when Pope Francis does something that Pope Benedict did, too.”

    Though the examples you cite would all be from the first 2 or 3 years of Benedict’s papacy, when he largely continued the liturgical style (including vestiture, etc) of his predecessor John Paul II. Only very gradually, and only after several years in papal office–in contrast with the present situation–did Benedict begin to “impose” his own distinctive style of papal liturgy.

    Indeed, in my over fifty years of following papal liturgy fairly closely, and in historical study of papal liturgy previously, I am unaware of any historical case in which a Roman pontiff has previously imposed a noticeably different liturgical style in the first weeks or months of his papacy. So, whether for better or for worse, it might be suggested that we are seeing history in the making.

  47. boxerpaws1952 : I stand by my statement, and meant it exactly as written. I am referring to the totality of what I have seen to this point. It’s a virtue of justice that we give God our best for the worship that is due unto Him. Anything less is a tragedy.

    The externals are reflections of the interior, this is not to say that externals are everything, most certainly they are not….but if the Liturgy doesn’t convey the Mystery being made present before us, there’s a problem, and this immediate change from PBXVI, I fear may end up doing more harm, than good for the Church Universal.

    patience, trust, courage, I like those being the foci for the homily….

  48. SimonDodd says:

    mamajen says: “Just one of the many examples of people flipping out when Pope Francis does something that Pope Benedict did, too.” On the other side of the coin are the already-countless examples of liberal catholics and the secular world lauding Pope Francis for doing something that Pope Benedict did, too, and quite often for the thinly-veiled purpose of drawing an unflattering comparison to their strawman version of Benedict.

  49. mamajen says:


    You’re right, they are two sides of the very same coin. That realization should give people some pause. I certainly don’t want to share a coin with the Church’s worst enemies.

  50. Southern Catholic says:

    There is always a lot of hate for the pope in Fr. Z’s combox now a days.

    Anyways,it was a wonderful homily.

  51. Gratias says:

    Back to Paul VI’s crucifix. Pope Francisco is a Vatican II bishop.

  52. Lucas Whittaker says:

    Regarding just how the outstanding Romano Guardini influenced Pope Francis I would like to suggest that Guardini quite simply influenced the entire outlook of Francis—both liturgically and spiritually. Although Guardini believed that Jesus is found and experienced in the liturgy as he is nowhere else, he also remarked of Jesus’ life: “We can only reverently pause before this or that word or act, ready to learn, adore, obey…All rights, honors, works, successes and anything else that has helped us to avoid the truth…will fall away…Only our naked conscience will stand before God’s gaze. May his mercy sustain us in that hour!” And regarding “this or that word or act” Guardini wrote: “Christ lived among his disciples spontaneously, doing from moment to moment what was ‘right’ without thinking particularly of the example that he was giving. Because he acted unconsciously, genuinely, from his essence outward, not the other way around, all he did was perfect.” Guardini speaks of the awareness of man who is aware of his actions before he does them and called to pour himself out “without thinking” because Guardini knew that it is “Through voluntary obedience to God’s will [that] he is meant to realize his full capacities.”

    Pope Emeritus Benedict shares one of Guardini’s favorite articulations in the preface to The Lord. I believe that a man who is moved, indeed inspired, by Guardini’s description of what it means to be a Christian will see the fullest expression of Guardini’s spirituality—whether within the context of liturgy or in life and therefore in prayer—in this quotation: “that which is truly real will arise from the rich, varied expansiveness of our existence, of our being fully Christian, and will lead us to the One who is truly real.”

    My experience of Pope Francis is of a man whose personality is transparent (something that I relate to virtue). We can speculate from the consideration that he gave to the writing of his dissertation on Romano Guardini, from his preaching on mercy and living faith, and also from what we can ascertain from his patient temperament (transparent personality) that Guardini affected Francis in every way. It is also interesting that Romano Guardini chose to mention St. Francis of Assisi in his preface to The Lord; Guardini also has a beautiful way of speaking about poverty. I can’t help but wonder if Pope Francis is drawn to the Poverello of Assisi because of Guardini’s influence. But then, of course, St. Francis is mentioned by many people.

    Maybe I am correct in my assertions about the influence of Guardini on Francis and the way that Francis clearly esteems every word and act of Jesus; the quotes that I have shared here speak to many things, but they seem to me to speak especially to the need for a pure heart, and therefore conscience—realities immediately connected both to Guardini’s words and to Francis’ call for us to make use of the sacrament of confession. And as Benedict stated in the preface to The Lord, Guardini “recognized that the liturgy is the true living environment for the Bible”, which is precisely what Pope Francis seems to suggest when in a recent homily he said: “we can actually touch [Jesus]. This happens every time that we receive the sacraments with faith.” Guardini has a unique way of referring to conscience and confessing, just as Pope Francis does.

    Maybe the following words from Guardini’s book The Lord, will speak to you in the same touching way that they speak to me: “Every Christian one day reaches the point where he too must be ready to accompany the Master into destruction and oblivion: into that which the world considers folly, that which for his own understanding is incomprehensible…Whatever it is to be: suffering, dishonor, the loss of loved ones or the shattering of a lifetime oeuvre, this is the decisive test of his Christianity. Will he shrink back before the ultimate depths, or will he be able to go all the way and thus win his share of the life of Christ?” To me this resembles what Pope Francis could have said himself.

  53. Hibernian Faitfhful says:

    As a Catholic that loves the TLM and a proper Novus Ordo Mass because it draws me closing to the love and appreciation of the Gift of my Salvation that is happening in front of me. The Mass is not a meeting place, a comedy hall or personal pulpit, but a calling to join in the Communion with our Savior and the Trinity. To that end, the “smells and bells” (and other traditional elements associated with the Pope Emertius) help me (and a good deal of other Catholics) toward that close relationship with Jesus and are not an end in themselves. Therefore, I think that the style of Pope Francis is being presented to us to remember the relationship of Jesus is with all of his creation, especially our fellow man. To that end, his approach is another way, not better, but another, way to see and develop our relationship with Jesus. The critical issues with those of us who prefer\enjoy the TLM are (1) the rampant liturgical abuses in the Novus Ordo (which if it was the only rite, should upset all of us Catholics) and (2) we should not become attached to the TLM for its own sake.

    I am reminded of the comments of Father Barron in Catholicism in which he is discussing Grunewald’s altar piece:

    “And it is this crucified Christ who best exemplifies what he teaches in the beatitudes:

    Thomas Aquinas said that if you want to see the perfect exemplification of the beatitudes, you should look to Christ crucified. The saint specified this observation as follows: if you want beatitude (happiness), despise what Jesus despised on the cross and love what he loved on the cross.

    On the cross, Jesus despised the four worldly addictions of wealth, pleasure, power and honour, as he was stripped naked; suffered physical, mental and spiritual agony; rendered helpless and powerless; and exposed to the ultimate of dishonour through suffering the death of a common criminal.

    What did Jesus love on the cross? “The will of his Father.” And loving the will and mission of his Father to the end, he was able to live out the beatitudes to the full, with what he loved and what he despised on the cross being “in a strange balance”:

    Poor in spirit, meek, mourning, and persecuted, he was able to be pure of heart, to seek righteousness utterly, to become the ultimate peacemaker, and to be the perfect conduit of the divine mercy to the world. Though it is supremely paradoxical to say so, the crucified Jesus is the man of beatitude, a truly happy man.”

    The Holy Spirit has blessed us in this new Dark Ages with three Popes that have and are sheparding us to our redemption. Those on either side that are either attached to the ethos of the modern work and relativism or to uncritical preference for any form of rite miss this simple, but complex truth.

    Pope John Paul II: “This is what we believe”
    Pope Bendict XVI: “This is why we believe it”
    Pope Francis: “This is how we do it, now go and do it”

    Lex Orandi, Lex Credendi, Lex Vivendi” (What you pray is what you believe is what you live)

    “Wherever politics tries to be redemptive, it is promising too much. Where it wishes to do the work of God, it becomes not divine, but demonic.” Pope Benedict XVI

    “We believe that Social Security legislation, now billed as a great victory for the poor and for the worker, is a great defeat for Christianity. It is an acceptance of the idea of force and compulsion.” Dorothy Day

    “Progress should mean that we are always changing the world to fit the vision, instead we are always changing the vision.” G. K. Chesterton

  54. LarryW2LJ says:

    Reading some of the comments here reminds me of something my Mom used to say about one of her sisters. My one aunt in particular, always seemed to go out of her way to find something to complain about. So my Mom used to say, “Pay her no mind. She’s not happy unless she’s unhappy”. Kind of sounds like something Yogi Berra would have come up with, but I knew exactly what my Mom meant.

  55. Lucas Whittaker says:

    As I read Romano Guardini’s The Spirit of the Liturgy I gain some insights into how a priest might intend, purely, to put his heart into the sacred liturgy while at the same time overlooking (for lack of a better word) certain rubrics. I do not say this to condone anything that we have witnessed or any major abuses; rather I mean to suggest that I find many reasons to become more patient. I even discovered what I see as a link between courage and patience in The Spirit of the Liturgy.

    “The careworn man who seeks nothing at Mass but the fulfillment of the service which he owes to his God; the busy woman, who comes to be a little lightened of her burden; the many people who, barren of feeling and perceiving nothing of the beauty and splendor of word and sound
    which surrounds them, but merely seek strength for their daily toil–all these penetrate far more deeply into the essence of the liturgy than does the connoisseur who is busy savoring the contrast between the austere beauty of a Preface and the melodiousness of a Gradual…On the whole, however, and as far as everyday life is concerned, this precept holds good, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and His justice, and all else shall be added to you’–all else, even the glorious experience of beauty.”

    As Father Z points out Pope Francis clearly desires to direct his papacy toward the careworn man who needs the support of the Holy Father as much as we do (I do not consider myself “careworn” as such).

    [This quote leads up to the connection between patience and courage. I only ask that you are kind to me if you do not see the same connection because I may well be—simply—wrong.]
    “The liturgy has something in itself reminiscent of the stars, of their eternally fixed and even course, of their inflexible order, of their profound silence, and of the infinite space in which they are poised. It is only in appearance, however, that the liturgy is so detached and untroubled by the actions and strivings and moral position of men. For in reality it knows that those who live by it will be true and spiritually sound, and at peace to the depths of their being; and that when they leave its sacred confines to enter life they will be men of courage.”

    Courage could be used to define those who love the liturgy then. So, we who love the liturgy should strive to live courageously. We ought especiallyto take courage in the way that we support our new Holy Father. Aristotle teaches that courage is a mean between rashness and cowardice: Patience, then, would seem to characterize the person of courage.

  56. Marcello says:

    LarryW2LJ says:
    9 April 2013 at 2:37 pm
    Reading some of the comments here reminds me of something my Mom used to say about one of her sisters. My one aunt in particular, always seemed to go out of her way to find something to complain about. So my Mom used to say, “Pay her no mind. She’s not happy unless she’s unhappy”. Kind of sounds like something Yogi Berra would have come up with, but I knew exactly what my Mom meant.

    I am guilty as charged. I am trying, but it’s very difficult since 13 March.

  57. Lucas Whittaker says:

    [from the sermon for the enthronement of Pope Francis in St. John Lateran:] “God’s patience has to call forth in us the courage to return to him”.

    This strikes me as quite a remarkable idea to meditate on. This is especially the case for me as I ponder what Guardini wrote in Spirit of the Liturgy: Those who live by the liturgy will be true…and when they leave its sacred confines they will be men of courage”: Not only do we find Jesus in the liturgy like nowhere else, but the sacred liturgy fosters in us the courage that we need to return to God. To me “return to God” references our never-ending call to deeper conversion: our relationship with God can always improve; we can always “pour ourselves out” just a little bit more in charity. As much as I already believe that God provides for our every need I still find myself astounded: God truly does provide everything that we need. The other ecstasy for me within this consideration happened when I considered the call to courage of Pope Francis to us alongside the manner in which Aristotle inspires a man to virtue in his Ethics. I believe that Aristotle would be lost in wonder for a few days to consider that God fosters in us the virtues that we need to live the truly good life, the beautiful life of holiness. This reminds me of something that St. Paul said: “For who distinguisheth thee? Or what hast thou that thou hast not received?” (1 Cor 4:7). Père Garrigou-Lagrange, commenting on this wrote, “What more profound lesson in humility could be taught?”

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