Sunday, 28 April 2013

Remain steadfast in the journey of faith, with firm hope in the Lord. This is the secret of our journey!

Pope Francis has preached a very lovely homily (and here at the Vatican website) this morning during the celebration of Mass and confirmation. The celebration - A Day for those being confirmed -  is one of the events being held to mark the Year of Faith, and it invited people (mostly, but not all, young people) being confirmed during the Year of Faith to make a pilgrimage to Rome. Yesterday, the pilgrimage took the form of catechetical/pilgrimage visits to the Vatican Basilica which focussed on the reciting of the Nicene Creed before the high altar and close by the tomb of St Peter above which the high altar is placed. Today, the confirmandi joined Pope Francis in St Peter's Square for Mass and the celebration of the sacrament for a number of those present.

For those who are having difficulty making out exactly what Pope Francis is about, I would suggest that this homily certainly indicates one thing. Pope Benedict, in his preaching, had an at times quite delightful or exquisite use of language - and we can see something of the same in today's homily:
Saint John’s vision reminds us that all of us are journeying towards the heavenly Jerusalem, the ultimate newness which awaits us and all reality, the happy day when we will see the Lord’s face – that marvelous face, the most beautiful face of the Lord Jesus - and be with him for ever, in his love.
And Pope John Paul II was able to speak in a way that issued a kind of clarion call to his listeners, to speak in a way with a profoundly evangelising way (in the sense of encouraging conversion to the Lord) - and we can see something of this, too, in this morning's homily:
Do not be discouraged! We have the power of the Holy Spirit to overcome these trials!
Which is to suggest that Pope Francis' homily, whilst clearly expressed in a way that shows Pope Francis' own charism, indicates a striking continuity of attitude with his two immediate predecessors.
I have added the italics to the following passage which occurs towards the end of the homily:
There are no difficulties, trials or misunderstandings to fear, provided we remain united to God as branches to the vine, provided we do not lose our friendship with him, provided we make ever more room for him in our lives. This is especially so whenever we feel poor, weak and sinful, because God grants strength to our weakness, riches to our poverty, conversion and forgiveness to our sinfulness.

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