Wherein a Cardinal waits on tables

One of the most moving, and instructive, experiences of my life occurred one summer when I visited my boss.

One summer I took some friends with me to the Benedictine monastery of Metten, where my boss in the curia, and the former abbot of the same monastery, was passing the summer.

When we got settled in, I went to the sacristan to figure out Mass for myself with my friends.   But when we came to the church, Card. Mayer had taken the place of the sacristan.  He set up for Mass.  Served my Mass.  Asked for my blessing after Mass.  And then he served me with my friends at breakfast in the refectory.  It was a pivotal experience.   He was full of pivotal instruction, as a matter of fact, and some day I’ll tell more.

Now I have received these pics of a meal in a seminary.



I believe the great St. Roberto Bellarmino waited on tables and washed dishes with Jesuit novices.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    This was a special grace, as His Eminence celebrated Holy Week liturgies at the ICRSS church in Florence and the Divine Office at the seminary. It is the usual custom for the superiors, including “Monseigneur le Prieur Général,” if he is at the seminary, to serve the meal of the day on Good Friday, and this is usually also done in the houses.

  2. acardnal says:

    Cardinal Burke is a humble prince of the Church. May God bless him.

  3. Nan says:

    Such a sweet priest.

  4. Sseprn says:

    Cardinal Burke, again setting the example for all of us that service is the key to leadership. God bless him.

  5. clq24 says:

    What a beautiful example of servant leadership. May we follow his example.

  6. ajf1984 says:

    Methinks if photos and stories such as these were more widely circulated, a little wind might be taken from the sails of the wymyn priest movement. After all, if they were to see some of the most powerful men in the Church doing something so {shudder} domestic/mundane, maybe they would realize that priesthood isn’t about power, but rather humble self-giving in imitation of the Most Humble One. Kenosis, anyone?

  7. “I do not come to be served, but to serve”

    What greater example, not only for the young seminarians, but those of us of somewhat longer tenure on this journey, to see.

    You can make great theater out of grand gestures (the Mandatum comes to mind…and the focus that enjoys), but it is in the small gestures and acts that the true disposition of the person comes to light. Anyone can make the grand gesture when the cameras and crowds are watching…what was it that was said (and I’m paraphrasing here): the true measure of a man is what he does when no one is looking.

    I’m reminded of the pastor of a local parish where I occasionally help out as acolyte or Extraordinary Minister…after Mass, he insists that I come over to the rectory for coffee and treats…and does not let me fix them for myself.

    I come to serve..not to be served.

  8. Simon_GNR says:

    Decanus decani is one of the titles of the Pope and the above examples of humble service by two cardinals are redolent of this. Is Cardinal Burke papabile? Or is he too old?

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