Francis at inaugural Mass: Pope must be servant, ‘inspired by lowly’

Unlike Pope Benedict XVI, whose renunciation of the papacy Feb. 28 eventually led to Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s election as Pope Francis on March 13, the new pope did not wear his miter during the homily and spoke standing instead of seated.

Read the report at NCR here.

See also NCR’s Michael Sean Winters on the installation Mass here.


50 responses to “Francis at inaugural Mass: Pope must be servant, ‘inspired by lowly’”

  1. Samuel J. Howard Avatar

    The UK’s Daily Mail has made posting impressive photography on-line their “thing” and has a good amount from this morning, though I’d like to see more photos of the Mass. I assume NLM or Fr. Z will have a roundup eventually.

  2. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

    Since you are making much of the symbolism, it seems to me that when the pope (or any cleric) leaves off the symbols of his office when he preaches, doesn’t he disassociate himself, symbolically, from what those symbols represent?

    So–seeing this symbolically–when the pope leaves off his miter and leave the chair, except for the pallium, what distinguishes him from a parish priest?

    And how should parish priests imitate this? What does a priest’s “dialing back” look like? Not preaching at the pulpit? Removing his chasuble and stole?

    And then–whether it’s stepping away from the symbols of the papacy, or of the office of bishop, or from the symbols of the priesthood, what’s left?

    Doesn’t that symbolize that it’s not about the office, but the man?

    Is that why we listen to Pope Francis? Because we like him? I thought it wasn’t about him, but about the sacramental character of holy orders, and about his being chosen the Successor of Peter? So maybe throwing those aside–symbolically–isn’t all it’s cracked up to be?

    You can’t argue symbols matter–and then argue they don’t when you don’t like the inference.

    1. Thomas Dalby Avatar
      Thomas Dalby

      @Fr Martin Fox – comment #2:
      Perhaps the priest should remove his maniple for the sermon? (Please note that I write with tongue in cheek)

      1. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

        @Thomas Dalby – comment #4:
        Heh heh–but seriously, that doesn’t hurt my point. The maniple has no particular symbolism of holy orders, or of office. As far as I know, it evolved from a kind of handkerchief.

    2. Jim McKay Avatar
      Jim McKay

      @Fr Martin Fox – comment #2:

      It is not that I don’t like the inference, but that I would infer the opposite. In the homily, the Pope, like a bishop or a priest, signifies Christ. By the power of the sacrament of Orders, in the image of Christ the eternal high Priest, [priests] are consecrated to preach the Gospel and shepherd the faithful and to celebrate divine worship… Lumen Gentium 28

      So what is the point of flaunting the achievements of the man by giving him a crown to call attention to the fact that he is a bishop? (that is as close to an actual meaning for mitres as I could find; if it has some other significance, well never mind…)

      1. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

        @Jim McKay – comment #11:
        Are you arguing the miter should be abolished? If so, that’s one argument we can weigh. But if you’re not, then both the times a bishop wears it, and the times he doesn’t, both are symbolic, yes?

        I don’t know why it’s so hard to figure out what the miter stands for. Ask the question: who almost always wears them? Answer: bishops. (Those few who know abbots also wear miters will know it’s about him being bishop.)

        So he’s symbolically “more” a bishop when he enters and leaves (and he’s wearing the miter), and thus for the blessing–but you want him to be “less” clearly a bishop when he preaches? Why?

        If he’s preaching “less” as a bishop–the symbolism of pointedly omitting the miter while preaching–then in what role is he preaching? It seems to me one can just as reasonably argue that’s flaunting–in place of his sacred office as bishop (the miter is not particularly about him being pope, as all bishops wear miters)–something else. What, exactly?

      2. Jim McKay Avatar
        Jim McKay

        @Fr Martin Fox – comment #14:

        You are good at straw men too, it seems. I said nothing about abolishing the mitre. When it is worn, and when it is not, are both symbolic, as you say. The mitre functions as a sign that a person is a bishop, but what it symbolizes is more complex than that. It seems to have developed out of the same nexus as crowns for royalty, and gets traced back to St Paul’s references to athletic victories. But I could be wrong.

        Primarily I am asking a question about preaching. During the homily, whether it is a bishop, priest or deacon, it is Christ who preaches in the person of the minister. A bishop should look just like a parish priest, because they both point toward Christ rather than themselves. So why draw attention to the person’s rank when what you want is for Christ to be heard?

        So my inference is the opposite of yours. The mitre draws attention to the bishop, it’s absence points toward Christ. We listen to the pope not because of his office, but to hear Christ. I think this is the inference most are making about his non use of the mitre. I am not sure it is correct, but it is opposite your inference and explains why I like that he raises the dignity of all preaching by deferring to Christ at that moment

      3. FrMartinFox Avatar

        @Jim McKay – comment #20:
        How is asking to understand your point an example of the Straw Man fallacy? I found your comments about the miter unclear, so I asked if you meant to advocate abolishing the miter. I can’t imagine you’d prefer I assume I know your point, rather than ask?

        As for the idea that calling attention to being a bishop somehow takes away from Christ being preached, why doesn’t that argument serve equally well to take away all symbols of holy orders entirely, and merely preach in alb? Don’t the baptized represent Christ? I realize you haven’t said that; but I don’t see why the stopping point you picked (i.e., take off this, but stop and don’t take off more) is anything but arbitrary.

      4. Jim McKay Avatar
        Jim McKay

        @FrMartinFox – comment #31:
        Are you arguing that bishops should always wear a mitre?

        To the extent that the mitre identifies the preacher as a bishop, I do not see its relevance to his preaching. Hence I infer something different from its absence than you. I cannot find any strong biblical meaning for the mitre, which may be the difference between us.

        I do not at the moment have any opinion on other clerical garb during preaching, so I don’t see why my remarks on the mitre should be generalized as you suggest. The stole, for instance, symbolizes the yoke of Christ, so it supports the identification of the preacher with Christ which helps us to hear the preacher’s words as the words of Christ. It does not serve simply as a sign of ordination like the mitre, but works within the symbols of the Liturgy to represent Christ.

    3. Damian LaPorte Avatar
      Damian LaPorte

      @Fr Martin Fox – comment #2:
      “…except for the pallium, what distinguishes him from a parish priest?”

      I’d say the papal pallium is a pretty darn big distinction.

      “And how should parish priests imitate this? What does a priest’s ‘dialing back’ look like?”

      This begs the question, Martin: WHY should a parish priest imitate this? Do you adjust your ars celebrandi according to how you read what a pope is or isn’t doing at the moment?

      1. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

        @Damian LaPorte – comment #13:
        I agree the pallium is a big distinction. So I’m unsure why it’s good he left off his miter, yet left on the pallium. Since this is all about what it symbolizes, that seems contradictory.

        In general, it’s always good to attend to the example of the holy father, to see if it can apply to oneself. But I don’t feel any obligation to “dial down” my ars celebrandi as a result of this. But it was the original post that raised the question of bishops doing so; so if that’s a reasonable question to raise from the pope’s choices, why isn’t it reasonable regarding priests?

    4. Brigid Rauch Avatar
      Brigid Rauch

      @Fr Martin Fox – comment #2:
      And how should parish priests imitate this? What does a priest’s “dialing back” look like?

      The pastor of a nearby parish has a reserved parking place next to the door of the parish office – which is located across the street from the rectory garage. Many (most?) priests have a cook and/or housekeeper. The sisters I know all do their own cooking and cleaning. Perhaps “dialing back” should consist of re-considering habits of privilege.

      Edit to add: reconsider should take into account whether the priest is healthy or vigorous enough to make changes. I don’t think it’s proper to expect a 75 year old pastor to start cooking!

      1. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        @Brigid Rauch – comment #22:
        Of course, please find a job for the priest’s cook or housekeeper when that person is terminated in the name of simplicity. There are fewer and fewer jobs available these days that don’t require expensive credentialing in order to make a living wage; so let’s reduce their number further….

        In other words, let’s be careful to think through further what we ask for. And perhaps just analyze the Pope less and focus on what we can do more.

      2. Brigid Rauch Avatar
        Brigid Rauch

        @Karl Liam Saur – comment #24:
        Oh, dear – I hadn’t thought of that – perhaps the parish could re-hire these people to bring meals to shut-ins, the newly bereaved or simply those who are long time caretakers!

      3. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        @Brigid Rauch – comment #31:
        But that’s a very different service AND it involves potential liability to parish with respect the many different recipients it sponsors…it’s not simple. Also, there was a very practical reason for this rectory service: to free priests up for ministerial service to others.

      4. Scott Pluff Avatar
        Scott Pluff

        @Karl Liam Saur – comment #32:
        The custom of having a housekeeper and cook in every rectory probably comes more from the idea that running a house was woman’s work, and since these priests didn’t have wives to cook and clean, someone had to do it. As a lay minister, I manage to serve 50+ hours every week in a parish and still cook, clean, cut my grass, maintain my home and car, etc. My day off is spent working around the house, not lounging.

      5. Karl Liam Saur Avatar
        Karl Liam Saur

        @Scott Pluff – comment #40:
        That’s a co-existing truth. But it’s interesting that the instinctive solution for many is simply to end employment for such work rather than considering if there might still be value. (Mind you, I’ve cleaned up for myself for over 40 years, and cooked for myself for over 30 years…)

      6. Matthew Hazell Avatar
        Matthew Hazell

        @Karl Liam Saur (#44): But it’s interesting that the instinctive solution for many is simply to end employment for such work rather than considering if there might still be value.

        Well, you know the old saying – social justice begins at home…!

        I also find it interesting that some are quick to classify helps and aids as unnecessary luxuries. Because, of course, in the name of poverty, it makes perfect sense to withhold household help from (e.g.) a pastor in charge of two or three parishes and still expect him to be available for sick visits, confessions, last rites, etc., at a moment’s notice. Burn-out? What burn-out?

        If people are being remunerated properly and if it gives the clergy more time to function as clergy, then I honestly don’t see the problem here.

      7. Joshua Vas Avatar
        Joshua Vas

        @Scott Pluff – comment #40:
        If that is true, I wonder whether it’s a cultural aspect of only certain areas. I have been in 3 different countries where all the domestic helpers in the priests’ residence were male, not female. Female domestic workers were employed for the sisters’ house.

      8. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

        @Brigid Rauch – comment #22:
        I can see the headline now: “Rectory cooks lose jobs as priests prepare own meals” 😉

      9. FrMartinFox Avatar

        @Brigid Rauch – comment #22:
        Those are perfectly reasonable sorts of things a priest can — and perhaps should — do, to live more simply. I might add, he could do his own laundry, and as you suggest, clean his own home. But the comment I was making was aimed specifically at the liturgical context suggested by the original post.

        FWIW, I don’t have a cook, I do have someone who cleans the rectory and does my laundry. The pastor made that decision, I am thankful. The fact that it benefits the priest (and it does!) notwithstanding, having someone clean the rectory still has advantages to the owner of the house–i.e., the people of the parish. That is to say, the people of the parish have an interest in the house being kept in good order. Same rationale for a maintenance person, as opposed to relying on the priest to check the water heater and furnace periodically.

        I think priests cleaning and cooking and doing their own laundry is a good thing. I know how to do all these things; and while there was a day many priests didn’t know how to do these things, I think those times are passing–I could be wrong.

    5. Todd Flowerday Avatar

      @Fr Martin Fox – comment #2:
      “… what’s left?”

      Jesus Christ.

      In all seriousness, sometime the encrustation of symbols can obscure the very point.

      An example in another sacrament. My wife and I share blessed wedding bands. We don’t have one for each hand, nor for every finger. We didn’t have a Wedding Mass, just a Rite of Marriage at a Sunday Mass. We didn’t opt for a unity candle. We didn’t adopt the custom of a few of our friends of lasso and coins. We didn’t present flowers to the Blessed Mother or Holy Family. We could have done all these things, but we didn’t think these added anything to the intent of our commitment, nor Christ’s sacramental presence.

      Many Catholics find simplicity to be more noble than accretions which, though well-intentioned, sometimes obscure. And sometimes seem like a nervous attempt to control God a little bit more. (If one papal tradition is good, then several must be better.) And by correlation, fewer symbols don’t mean necessarily less of Christ.

      Fr Fox, I find your views here to be rather colored by modern Enlightenment and rationalism. God just doesn’t work that way.

      1. FrMartinFox Avatar

        @Todd Flowerday – comment #28:
        Mr. Flowerday: I’d love to see you substantiate your claim that my views are “rather colored by Enlightenment and rationalism,” if you think it expedient to offer that.

      2. Todd Flowerday Avatar

        @FrMartinFox – comment #34:
        Just the analytical approach to symbols, that’s all. It strikes me as more accurate to just note what is there, not what’s not.

        For the record, I also think it was wrong for you to be questioned here. You have opinions, observations, and such to offer. I have no problem reading it.

  3. John Swencki Avatar
    John Swencki

    Way back, years ago, the black actress Della Reese said, “If I have to wear a sign that says, ‘I am…’, then I ain’t!”

  4. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    Fr Fox, where did anyone argue that “symbols don’t matter”?

    I didn’t see any attempt on Pope Francis’s part to hide the fact that he is the Bishop of Rome and the successor of Peter. He said as much in his homily, and the symbols used the liturgy (the mitre, the papal chair, the pallium, the ring of the Fisherman, not to mention the Holy Father’s role in the Mass) all made that abundantly clear. We didn’t need the triple tiara or giant peacock-feather fans or the chair carried above the crowd or the ermine mozzetta to “get” that we have a new pope.

    Those symbols matter as well — nobody has argued that they don’t — but perhaps they are superfluous, or speak more of imperial rule than of the office of pope, bishop of Rome and successor of Peter.

    1. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

      @Jonathan Day – comment #5:
      I don’t recall advocating for the “triple tiara or giant peacock-feather fans or the chair carried above the crowd”–but if you’d rather respond to the Straw Man who didn’t post a comment, than to mine, that’s quite all right with me.

      If symbols matter–and I agree they do–why is it good to have the pope symbolically “shed” the symbols of his office? That’s what shedding the miter, and stepping away from the chair, symbolize.

      Or do you contend that the miter and the chair–which I was talking about, not mozzattae or peacock fans–are also “imperial”? If so, can you support that contention, or is it merely your personal feeling?

  5. Kyle Lechtenberg Avatar
    Kyle Lechtenberg

    I’ve seen bishops, archbishops, and the pope preach while seated at the chair and have not always seen it as off-putting. In fact, the archbishop, at the first ordination liturgy I attended about 10 years ago, was seated for the homily. Because I understood the symbolism and knew the archbishop fairly well, I was moved by the experience.

    It’s when the liturgical symbol doesn’t align with the minister’s behavior outside of the liturgy that the symbolic value is much harder to see. In those cases, a “dial-back” might serve to restore faith in the person, the office, or both.

    Based on what I learned about Pope Francis prior to seeing him celebrate Mass I would have welcomed him seated, with the miter, for the homily. Those liturgical symbols can resound. He seems to have a strong desire to align Church ideals and teaching with enactment and lived experience of the ideals (Note: My intention is only to focus on this present pope; no judgment, favorable or unfavorable, is intended on any past pope.). So in my view, Pope Francis preaching at the chair, wearing the miter, would have been welcome.

    But my sense is that many Catholics and the world at large are heartened by the visible signs meant to simplify and get back to basics. Those distant from, hurt by, or outside the Church often have a keen eye for symbol-minister alignment–or lack thereof. We need to heed that voice.

    He hasn’t proclaimed his virtue in simplifying the externals. From all I can tell, he’s seeking to bring to his ministry as pope his lived experience of walking side-by-side with those who are poor. I think that’s admirable. And yet I will be okay when, as written by others, “the office changes the man,” as undoubtedly will happen as he dialogues in thought, prayer, reading, and even conversation with his predecessors. He seems to be someone who, as Richard Rohr wrote, “knows who he is.”

    I mean (again as others have written), taking the name “Francis” is a bold move. Expect the unexpected!

    1. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

      @Kyle Lechtenberg – comment #6:
      Lest there be any misunderstanding, I am not faulting the holy father for his choices–because they are his choices, and he has others to advise him about liturgical protocol. I am simply responding to the argument about the poster’s argument about how symbolic his choices were, by pointing out they can have other symbolic meanings too–and not good ones.

  6. Fr. Ron Krisman Avatar
    Fr. Ron Krisman

    Could it be that Pope Francis presently is not comfortable preaching while sitting? Perhaps he has always given the homily at the ambo and just did not want to do something different on this occasion.

  7. Jonathan Day Avatar
    Jonathan Day

    If he were unable to speak to the assembly without removing the mitre or leaving the chair, Fr Fox, I might be concerned. But he wore the mitre and he sat in the chair — except when he was preaching.

    I’m not sure that this was anything other than an attempt to establish a stronger connection with the assembly, and with the world connecting by internet and television. Did it symbolically convey that he saw himself as nothing more than a parish priest? Perhaps the symbolism was that a simple parish priest, delivering a homily, is also part of the Petrine ministry.

    My point about the tiara, etc., was simply that more symbols of differentiation aren’t necessarily better. Why stop with the mitre, you asked, why not remove the chasuble as well? Equally, I could ask, why not go the whole hog and add back the fans and the triple tiara? I am guessing that you approved of Pope Benedict’s choices for his own inauguration. Why not fault him (as some traditionalists did) for not bringing back the sedia gestatoria?

    There was no attempt to erect a straw man. But am I curious (as perhaps you are) about how people could agree on the right “settings” for the dial that Anthony refers to.

    1. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

      @Jonathan Day – comment #12:
      I did approve of Pope Benedict’s approach to the liturgy, which–while it included exercising options, also included actually being fully faithful to the liturgy itself. I.e., when Pope Benedict taught about ad orientem, he was reflecting what the Missal actually says; when Pope Benedict called for using Latin, he reflected what Vatican II actually said. But, not to make the point too strongly, there are options. On the question of whether wearing the miter is optional, I defer to the holy father on that one.

      But these things aren’t arbitrary in their meaning. The miter has a strong, Biblical meaning connected to the priesthood; I would enjoy someone attempting to make such an argument for the triple tiara and the fans.

    2. Fr Martin Fox Avatar

      @Jonathan Day – comment #12:
      As far as the “right settings”? I can offer, off the cuff, two considerations.

      First is, in the words of Pope Benedict, the hermeneutic of continuity. I think the notion that Vatican II birthed a “new church” was not only wrong in every way, and dangerously so, it was also, for that reason, very destructive. That mindset is still very much alive, and so the need to correct that error–and error it is–remains. Perhaps, in some happier future when we have dealt with that error, it will matter less that the pope be mindful of continuity in these sorts of choices.

      Second, I think it is fundamentally a mistake to think that the outward symbols magnify the man–it is the opposite. They make clear that the man underneath the vestments is not what this is about. Let me draw an analogy with clerical attire–which is not liturgical vesture, I realize, but it is an analogy. While I don’t make a fetish of wearing clerical attire, and should I be in casual attire, I’ll still perform any sacraments at need, I think it’s important and meaningful that the priest dresses like a priest. It’s not about Martin Fox, it’s about Father Martin Fox. It’s not about me, it’s about what Christ did, through the Church, through my bishop, that makes me a priest.

      In a similar way, I would argue that the additional step of donning special clothing, and performing ritual, emphasizes that much more not what the individual does, in liturgy, but the larger drama of the liturgy. When a server–of any age–dons a cassock and surplice, or an alb, does that call attention to the boy or girl, man or woman who’s serving? Or does it not emphasize that the individual is, as it were, surrendering to the larger ritual act? Each liturgical actor, who wears some distinctive clothing or symbol, with that distinctive “marker,” is making clear the particular “role” one has in the “drama” (I don’t mean that dismissively).

      1. Anthony Ruff, OSB Avatar
        Anthony Ruff, OSB

        @Fr Martin Fox – comment #17:
        Fr. Fox, I’m not sure who you’re trying to convince here. You’re bringing out your strongest arguments against Pope Francis, but I’m not sure he reads Pray Tell!. 🙂

      2. FrMartinFox Avatar

        @Anthony Ruff, OSB – comment #23:
        Father, I suppose I’m trying to convince the same folks you are, is that OK?

        I have said already I am definitely not making any arguments against the pope. He can do what he likes. But when you–at NCR–characterized this as a “liturgical revolution,” then clearly you think this has implications for the whole church. I suspect you’re cheerleading for it, but even if you aren’t, certainly others are. It is against that advocacy that I’m pushing back.

  8. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Jack Feehily

    I had mixed feelings while watching the inauguration liturgy. I am concerned for a pope with one lung having to do so much walking and standing. I’m nearing 72 and have two good lungs and just the moving about for two Sunday morning masses grows more tiring. I thought there was plenty of liturgical fussiness but probably some less than usual. I was happy to see the pope standing to preach without a miter. Personally, I have always thought that miters are superfluous. What else are they but modifies crowns. I have no problem recognizing my bishop as “in charge” even when he is miterless. The zuccheto is sufficient head covering in keeping with our Jewish roots. I’m a bit miffed by the “take and dip” mode of distributing communion. We are not Orthodox and it makes it appear that receiving in the mouth is more reverent I take communion by hand without any irreverence. I don’t like things that make it appear that the ordained are superior or even more holy than those not ordained. Do you suppose this is a widespread practice in Argentina or among Latinos in general? I did take some delight in seeing Msgr. Marini and other clerics with noticeably less lace. More macho methinks.

    1. Jeffrey Pinyan Avatar

      @Jack Feehily – comment #15:
      What else are [mitres] but modified crowns. … The zuccheto is sufficient head covering in keeping with our Jewish roots.

      So are miters, for that matter, assuming one accepts them as a development of the turban worn by Levitical priests.

  9. Patrick Logsdon Avatar
    Patrick Logsdon

    Fr. Martin Fox,
    i mean this in all sincerity, who are you? what is your back ground, maybe you have posted on this site and i am just ignorant, but some context of your background would help to understand your comments.
    it just seems to me that it is better to just LISTEN for now and hear what the Spirit is saying in all these events before we start to respond?
    thank you!

    1. FrMartinFox Avatar

      @Patrick Logsdon – comment #19:
      Oh, I’m sorry; I didn’t know that you had to visit this site a certain number of times before it was considered acceptable to post comments. Can you tell me what the protocol is? I wasn’t aware of any.

      As far as who I am; if you click on my name, you’ll go to my blog. That should give you quite a sense of who I am.

      And I will go ahead and answer questions raised by my comments, but now that you’ve caused me to realize I haven’t respected the customs here, I will be happy to avoid commenting in the future until I have some further guidance.

      1. Patrick Logsdon Avatar
        Patrick Logsdon

        @FrMartinFox – comment #30:
        I do not think there is any protocol, since this is only the second thread i have commented on!

        perhaps it was just the way i read your comments, but to me, they came across with an extra kick and a “pontificating tone.” I thought maybe you had some inside knowledge or special authority in this area, which is why asked the question.

  10. Patrick Logsdon Avatar
    Patrick Logsdon

    What I mean is that maybe Pope Francis is trying to say SOMETHING,
    not just in his words, but in his actions and it would seem important to first hear what the Spirit might be saying though all this?

  11. Jordan Zarembo Avatar
    Jordan Zarembo

    Pope Francis’s blessing of the disabled man before Mass was an amazing gesture. I went traddie-berserk the day when when Pope Francis was elected. My only concern was that Summorum pontificum would be abrogated. I sure wish I didn’t react that way. The Holy Spirit has blessed us with a very kind and gentle Pope. We are blessed for his service to the Church.

    Pope Francis has also taught me that all the court accoutrements and bespoke vestments suddenly shrink in magnitude against honest compassion. ad multos annos, Holy Father!

  12. Jordan DeJonge Avatar
    Jordan DeJonge

    It is perhaps pertinet, Jim, that a priest is essentially a bishop’s delegate. Perhaps there is a reason they shouldn’t look the same when teaching as one presides over the local church and is the proper authority in the diocese? I’m not asking this rhetorically. I don’t know.
    Actually, I’m much more comfortable with saying the priest is in the person of Christ in consecrating the elements than in preaching the homiliy. With the one, I always know what I’m going to get. That the priest’s own words are Christ’s in the liturgy is plain. That the priest’s words are Christ’s in the homily… that’s more often than not quite difficult to swallow, considering what some of these people say at a pulpit.

    1. Jim McKay Avatar
      Jim McKay

      @Jordan DeJonge – comment #29:

      Jordan, I am with you completely. I am much more comfortable with the consecration as the priest acting in the person of Christ. But comfort isn’t everything. It is disconcerting sometimes accepting the homily as coming from Christ. But disconcerting isn’t everything either. Christ is most important, present in the preaching of the Gospel as well as in the Eucharist.

      Not at all easy.

  13. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    Francis did a very good job of interpreting what he is doing in his homily in which he built his Petrine ministry upon the vocation of all Christians to imitate Joseph in protecting and building the body of Christ and upon the calling of all humanity to protect one another and the earth.

    The vocation of being a “protector”, however, is not just something involving us Christians alone; it also has a prior dimension which is simply human, involving everyone.

    How does Joseph exercise his role as protector? Discreetly, humbly and silently, but with an unfailing presence and utter fidelity, even when he finds it hard to understand.

    By being constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God’s presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to his own. This is what God asked of David, as we heard in the first reading. God does not want a house built by men, but faithfulness to his word, to his plan. It is God himself who builds the house, but from living stones sealed by his Spirit.

    Joseph is a “protector” because he is able to hear God’s voice and be guided by his will; and for this reason he is all the more sensitive to the persons entrusted to his safekeeping. He can look at things realistically, he is in touch with his surroundings, he can make truly wise decisions

    It means protecting people, showing loving concern for each and every person, especially children, the elderly, those in need, who are often the last we think about. It means caring for one another in our families: husbands and wives first protect one another, and then, as parents, they care for their children, and children themselves, in time, protect their parents.

    It means building sincere friendships in which we protect one another in trust, respect, and goodness. In the end, everything has been entrusted to our protection, and all of us are responsible for it. Be protectors of God’s gifts

    Francis has a deep respect for other people, seen in his asking for people to bless him, saying his own blessing silently out of respect for non-Catholics, in wanting to stand for his brother cardinals. He is not simply abandoning past practices per se. He is engaging in practices founded upon a desire to protect, serve and love others.

    But to be “protectors”, we also have to keep watch over ourselves! Let us not forget that hatred, envy and pride defile our lives! Being protectors, then, also means keeping watch over our emotions, over our hearts, because they are the seat of good and evil intentions: intentions that build up and tear down! We must not be afraid of goodness or even tenderness!

  14. James Murphy Avatar
    James Murphy

    Sometimes when I reflect on the Lord’s command, “do this in memory of me,” I find myself forced to ponder what “this” means. Jesus’ “this” involved no vestments, no miters, no thrones, no altar, no church building…just a ceremonial meal among friends and fellow believers in an intimate setting. Now, granted, this Eucharist was for bishops only, but still.

    As to whether a bishop sits or stands when preaching or when he does and does not remove his miter, it may be instructive to look at the whole spectrum of liturgical traditions, in the West, in the East, and in the Orient (not the same thing as the East) and discover that there are different vaild approaches to such things. Eastern Orthodox bishops, for example, wear their miters when preaching, but they also always stand in front of the altar to preach. They never sit. And yet you’ll never see anything more sumptuous than a hierarchical divine liturgy of the Orthodox Church. Incidentally, Orthodox bishops do not remove their miters while they are at the altar; they keep them on. Shocking, huh?

    Probably no more shocking than the fact that Coptic priests (yes priests, not bishops) wear miters that resemble those of Roman Catholic bishops throughout the entire liturgy without ever removing them for anything (their bishops wear crown-shaped miters like the Eastern Orthodox). Some Catholics might be further shocked to learn that Armenian priests and bishops kneel to distribute Communion to standing recipients. They have to; their altars are on elevated stages. They also stand when preaching by the way.

    I, too, was once rankled by the sight of celebrants doing what I understood to be the “wrong” thing at the “wrong” time. Fortunately, however, I live in an area blessed with many churches of many apostolic liturgical traditions and I’ve pretty much seen it all. Once you get a glimpse of the beautiful variety of legitimate liturgical traditions and practices in the Church, it becomes more difficult to become annoyed by different approaches.

  15. Fr. Jack Feehily Avatar
    Fr. Jack Feehily

    Karl you are very kind in thinking that was the primary reason for housekeepers and cooks. I rather think they were surrogates for the kind of care given by wives and mothers. Wouldn’t want Father to have to make his own bed and run his own errands. I will say that a lot has changed over the years in this regard at least in my diocese. Live in housekeepers/cooks are largely a thing of the past here.

  16. Richard Malcolm Avatar
    Richard Malcolm

    Jeffrey Pinyan : @Brigid Rauch – comment #22: I can see the headline now: “Rectory cooks lose jobs as priests prepare own meals”

    Reminds me of what’s happened at many law firms – with revenue down, they started by whacking secretaries, paralegals, support staff. Attorneys, even very high paid ones, are forced to do a lot of their own grunt work now. A satisfying image to all of us, to be sure – but it came at a price to the livelihood of others.

    But you raise a good point about the costs of “slumming it,” as Pope Francis did in Buenos Aires. Things are not always so simple as they appear. But I think his intent was sincere and humble, and one hopes and suspects that he helped network new positions for his discharged personal staff.

  17. Pádraig McCarthy Avatar
    Pádraig McCarthy

    I’m sure many of the above arguments have their value. But for me, symbols are valuable for what they communicate, for what they do. This can vary from culture to culture and from time to time; sometimes symbols, and multiplication of symbols, can obscure rather than reveal.
    But beyond all of the arguments, what hit me most of all in the celebration were three simple words from the second reading in Spanish: Romans (4:13,16-18,22). In verse 16 came these words:
    “Todo es gracia.” Everthing is grace, everything is gift.
    With this, all else fades.
    It means that Francis is grace. And Benedict is grace.
    And all the contributors above (and below) are grace. Even me.
    Hallelujah! (No matter that it’s Lent!)

  18. Jack Rakosky Avatar
    Jack Rakosky

    At least in some parishes, a woman or several women get paid to cook meals in their home and deliver them to the parish. It is efficient for all involved.

    The live in housekeeper seems to be a thing of the past.

    In the long ago past of my parents at least one housekeeper was the “wife” of the priest. She raised a child whom she claimed was the daughter of a relative. When the child became a adolescent her resemblance to the priest became very noticeable. Everyone understood and accepted it. The priest died as a priest and was buried in the priest’s plot of the cemetery of the parish.

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