Please include a wonderful friend of mine in your prayers – say an extra ‘Ave’ for Bishop Daniel Thomas who will be installed today at 2pm as the eighth bishop of Toledo in Ohio. I had hoped beyond hope to be among the faithful joining him and what promises to be a huge crowd of priests, bishops and cardinals but that was not to be (but I will be able to watch in Rome on EWTN!). We first met in 1991 when both of us were among a fairly sizeable number of Americans who, in late 1990 and throughout 1991, were called to Rome to work for the Roman Curia: he was at the Congregation for Bishops and I was at the Vatican Information Service (VIS).
God sit on your shoulder, my good friend!
As Pope Francis reminded us this morning at the general audience, “Today we celebrate the liturgical legacy of St. John Paul II. He invited everyone to open their doors to Christ. He reminded everyone about Divine Mercy. Let’s not forget his spiritual legacy. May it push us to reflect and work towards the good of the Church and of society.”
In fact, today is the first time that the Universal Church marks this liturgical memory. In his honor, Gemelli Polyclinic in Rome, where John Paul II was hospitalized on a number of occasions during his nearly 27-year pontificate, is naming a chapel for the late pontiff and new saint. There was a Mass at 5 pm in the second floor chapel of the hospital during which a reliquary of St. John Paul’s blood was placed in the chapel.
GERMAN TEAM DONATES 1 MILLION EURO TO POPE FOR CHARITY
Shortly before going to St. Peter’s Square for the weekly general audience, Pope Francis, a huge soccer fan, welcomed the Bayern Munich team to the Vatican after its 7-1 victory last night over Roma Champions League. Meeting the players and coaches and CEO Karl Heinz Rummenigge in a small room adjacent to the Paul VI Hall, he told them that they “played a wonderful game.” (L’Osservatore Romano photos – also on Bayern webpage)
The team gifted the Pope with a ball and a signed jersey with No. 1 on the front and “Francis” across the back. At this point, Pope Francis has quite a collection of jerseys.
CEO Rummenigge then announced that the German football club intends to donate to the Holy Father 1 million euros in proceeds from a future friendly match for charitable purposes. Rumminegge told Pope Francis it would be up to him to use the money “to help people in need wherever they are in the world and regardless of their faith,” according to the team’s website (here it is in English – it has a great slideshow: http://www.fcbayern.de/en/)
The website quoted Francis as admitting to “surprise” at the club’s victory margin over Roma the night before. He said, “Football is good and healthy, and a good role model for children as a team sport.”Francis also revealed during the audience that he had been in Mexico to see Rummenigge play in the 1986 World Cup.
No details about the meeting were released by the Vatican, other than stating the Pope met the team at 9:30 am.
THE CHURCH: THE BODY OF CHRIST, A MASTERPIECE OF THE SPIRIT
At today’s general audience, Pope Francis continued his series of catechesis on the Church, and began by saying, “We now consider what it means to say, with Saint Paul, that the Church is ‘the Body of Christ’. Just as our body is one, but made up of many members, so it is with Christ and the Church. Through Baptism we are made one with Christ in the mystery of his death and resurrection; all of us become sharers in the Holy Spirit and members of a mystical body of which the Risen Christ is the head. Paul uses the image of marital love to illustrate this great mystery: just as a husband and wife are one flesh, so it is with Christ and the Church.
The Holy Father defined the Church as “a masterpiece of the Spirit that instils in all the new life of the risen Christ, placing us side by side to serve and support one another, thus making of us one body, built in communion and love”. He emphasized, however, that it is not just “a body built in the Spirit – the Church is the Body of Christ. This is not just a figure of speech. It is what we truly are! It is the great gift that we received on the day of our Baptism!” (ANSA Photo)
The Pope noted that it would be good to remind ourselves more often of what we are and of what the Lord Jesus has made of us. “We are His body,” he stated, “a body that nothing and nobody can snatch away from him and that He fills with all His passion and love just as a husband loves his wife” He stated that divisions, jealousies, misunderstandings, and marginalizations “are not good because, instead of building up and growing the Church as the Body of Christ, it is fractured into many pieces and dismembered.”
Francis paraphrased some advice that Paul gave to the Corinthians when they were facing difficulties, saying this is apt advice for us today: “We should not be jealous but, in our communities, we should appreciate the gifts and qualities of our brothers and sisters. We should draw near to and participate in the suffering of the poor and the most needy. We should express our gratitude to all. Finally,” he concluded, “we should not consider ourselves as superior to others but should, in charity, think of ourselves as members of one another, living and giving of ourselves to the benefit of all.”
At the end of the catechism, during the language greetings of pilgrims, Pope Francis had special words for the employees of Meridiana airlines, based in the Tempio-Ampurias Diocese of Sardinia, Italy, who were at the audience. In fact, they held up a banner expressing the difficult moment of uncertainty regarding their jobs. “I hope,” he told them, “that you can reach an equitable solution that takes into account, above all, the dignity of the human person and the essential needs of the families. I send this appeal to all those responsible: please, no family without a job!”