I hope all of you had wonderful Memorial Day yesterday, hopefully with family and friends and equally hopefully with good weather. I was able to see President Trump at Arlington Cemetery in the ever-moving ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and his tribute to the fallen of past wars and his visit with families who lost members in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Several years ago I had a very personalized visit to this magnificent cemetery when a retired Navy Capitain friend of mine, a Vietnam war veteran, Ted Bronson, accompanied me for a very extensive visit, a true history lesson. I will never forget the day and one of the things on my bucket list is to some year at Christmas become a volunteer to lay Christmas wreaths at the tombs of our soldiers.
Most of my Memorial Day holiday was spent getting around Rome to electronic stores to look for a new laptop. I am waaaay overdue in replacing my current one which has served me well but is finally on its last legs. I had a list of specs from friends who are tech-savvy, and that helped enormously. I think I have narrowed it down and one of those friends will accompany me when he has some time off.
Now, re the news: I read this morning’s homily (see below) by Pope Francis twice. I was so intrigued by the first sentence, and then the rest of the homily, that I had to re-read it (and perhaps read in between the lines). Is there only one message here – or are there two? Is he talking about bishops who should ‘move on’? By the way, he is the Bishop of Rome. Or is this simply Francis’ reading of that Biblical account?
Pope Francis’ hoped-for trip to South Sudan is off – for now. Holy See Press Office director Greg Burke told journalists today, Tuesday, May 30, that, although the Pope still wishes to travel to South Sudan, hopefully alongside Anglican Archbishop Justin Welby, such a trip is off for this year. The Vatican was tenatively looking at October.
THE TRUE SHEPHERD KNOWS WHEN TO STEP DOWN FROM HIS CHURCH
(Vatican Radio) The true shepherd knows how to step down from his church, because he knows that he is not at the center of history, but is a free man who has served without compromises and without taking control of his flock. That was Pope Francis’ message during his homily at Mass celebrated on Tuesday in the Vatican’s Santa Marta residence.
“A shepherd must be ready to step down completely from his church, rather than leave in a partial manner” said the Pope.
His words were drawn from the first reading at Mass, where St Paul addressed the church leaders in Ephesus. The Pope said that this reading could easily be called “A bishop’s leave taking” because Paul has left the Church of Ephesus in order to go to Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit called him to go.
“All shepherds have to step down. There comes a moment where the Lord says ‘go to another place, come here, go there, come to me.’ And it’s one of the steps that a shepherd must take; be prepared to step down in the correct way, not still hanging on to his position. The shepherd who doesn’t learn how to do this because he still has some links with his sheep that are not good, links that are not purified by the Cross of Jesus” said Pope Francis.
According to the Pope, St Paul had held a council with all the priests of Ephesus and during this council he had demonstrated three “apostolic attitudes.”
The first of these is never turning back. The Pope said that this is the worst of all sins, to turn back. This is the thing which will bring much peace to the shepherd, when he remembers that he is not a shepherd who has led the church through compromising. Pope Francis admitted that this attitude requires much courage.
The second attitude is obedience to the Spirit, without knowing what will happen. A shepherd must know that he is on a journey.
The Pope said that Paul was a shepherd who serves his sheep.
“While guiding the Church he had an uncompromising attitude, at that moment it was the Spirit who asked him to go on his journey, without knowing what would happen to him. And he went because he had nothing of his own, he had not wrongly taken control of his sheep. He had served them. Paul said ‘Now God wants me to leave. I leave without knowing what will happen to me. I know only this – the Spirit had told him this – that the Holy Spirit had testified to me that trials and tribulations are awaiting me from city to city.’ This was what he (St Paul) knew. That I am not retiring. I am going away to serve other churches. The heart is always open to the voice of God, I am leaving this place, I will see what the Lord is asking of me. This is a shepherd without compromises who is now a shepherd on a journey.”
The third attitude is “I do not consider my own life to be precious in any way. I am not the center of history. Whether it’s large history or small history, I am not the center, I am a servant” said the Pope.
“With this most beautiful example, let us pray for our shepherds, for our parish priests, our bishops, the Pope, that their lives will be lives lived without compromise, lives on a journey and lives where they do not believe that they are the center of history and have learned how to step down. Let us pray for our shepherds.”
CATHOLIC CHARISMATIC RENEWAL MARKS 50 YEARS
Big celebrations are set for the coming days when an estimated 35,000 members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal movement from around the world are set to converge on Rome for a huge series of events, workshops, Masses and a meeting with Pope Francis at the Circus Maximus on Saturday evening, June 3, the vigil of Pentecost. If guests wear the color of Pentecost – the descent of the Holy Spirit as firelike tongue – Rome will be awash in red.
Celebrations start Wednesday, May 31 and conclude Sunday morning in St. Peter’s Square with Mass presided over by Pope Francis to celebrate Pentecost, the birth of the Church.
Following are organizational and events charts from the CCR website (http://www.ccrgoldenjubilee2017.org/pdetails.php?lang=en) (not sure if you can read these (or enlarge) – if not, go to the CCR website)