Archbishop Charles J. Chaput delivers his homily at Philadelphia's Cathedral of Sts. Peter and Paul. Credit EWTN
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput promised to lay down his life to restore faith and trust among Catholics in Philadelphia, during his Sept. 8 installation at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul.
Whatever my weaknesses and whatever my lacks, no bishop will give more of himself than I will to renewing this great Church, the new archbishop promised in his installation homily. Everything Ive learned, everything I know, and everything I have, I will give to this ministry, because all of you the people of God deserve at least that much.
The former Archbishop of Denver took up his new role in a ceremony attended by approximately 1,500 guests, including Philadelphia's previous archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, papal representative Monsignor Jean-Francois Lantheaume, and nearly 700 other clergy, religious, and seminarians. Mayor Michael Nutter and other civic leaders were also among the invited guests.
Because of flooding, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett was unable to attend the installation.
Archbishop Chaput began his homily by describing his new appointment as an arranged marriage, with Pope Benedict XVI as the matchmaker.
As he promised himself to the Church in Philadelphia, Archbishop Chaput spoke of what the new marriage would require.
For any marriage to work, two things need to happen, he said. People need to fall in love, and together they need to be fruitful. Thats what we need to dedicate ourselves to today to love one another and be fruitful together in the new evangelization.
I receive you as a gift from the Holy Father, and you receive me and my service as a gift from the Holy Father, said the archbishop. And this requires us to make a commitment, an act of the will, to love one another, to be patient with one another, and to lay down our lives for one another.
No bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past, Archbishop Chaput promised his new flock. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage our priests, and restore the hearts of our people.
Archbishop Chaput's message to his new church, which includes nearly 1.5 million Catholics, also took inspiration from the day's liturgical feast of the Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Her life, he observed, was not only a beautiful example of holiness, but also a story of faithful perseverance in the face of trials.
We need to follow the example of Mary and Joseph, trusting God in the difficult times of our life, he reflected. The issues that Joseph and Mary faced seemed insurmountable and caused intense confusion. But the name given to Jesus signifies 'Savior,' and we know that in Jesus, God promises to be with us.
Like Mary and Joseph, Catholics today need to make the act of faith embedded in todays first reading: that 'all things work for good for those who love God and who are called according to his purpose.'
The archbishop quoted a modern saint named for both Joseph and Mary, Opus Dei founder St. Josemaria Escriva, to drive home the point about God's care for believers in the midst of suffering. Have you forgotten that God is your father? Or that God is powerful, infinitely wise, full of mercy?
In regard to his own duties, Archbishop Chaput highlighted the words of the fourth-century bishop St. Augustine, who described bishops as watchmen protecting God's people.
Despite their high office, as Augustine said, bishops must have a heart such that we place ourselves beneath your feet in humility in order to help the poor, to liberate the oppressed, to encourage the good, to suffer the evil and to love all men.
By these acts, a bishop imitates Jesus Christ whose leadership of the Church, Archbishop Chaput noted, more than compensates for its human failings.
One of the first representations of Christ we have is the Good Shepherd who carries a lamb on his shoulders, he recalled.
All of us should keep that image in our hearts in the months ahead, because the Good Shepherd really will bring the Church in Philadelphia through this difficult moment in our history to security and joy and a better future.
In his closing remarks after the installation Mass, Archbishop Chaput expressed gratitude toward his predecessor Cardinal Rigali for extraordinary service to the Holy Father and the Catholic community worldwide. He also thanked the priests and deacons in attendance, saying they had already shown
uncommon friendship and support, and I will try to earn it.
To the faithful in the cities where he served previously, Rapid City and Denver, the archbishop said he continues to thank God every day for the gift of your friendship and the way you have enriched my life.
And to Catholics in Philadelphia, whom he thanked for their extraordinary kindness, he promised to live as a bishop in a way that repays your great love and respect.
THE MOST REVEREND CHARLES J. CHAPUT, OFM CAP.
NINTH ARCHBISHOP OF PHILADELPHIA
MASS OF INSTALLATION
CATHEDRAL-BASILICA OF SS. PETER AND PAUL
8 SEPTEMBER 2011
Cardinal Rigali and Eminent Cardinals; Monsignor Lantheaume, brother bishops, priests and deacons; Lt. Gov. Cawley, Mayor Nutter and esteemed leaders of the civic community; beloved seminarians; fellow religious; members of my family; brothers and sisters in Christ, and most especially the faithful of the archdiocese of Philadelphia:
A married friend told me last week that getting together for today reminded him of planning for a very, very, very
big wedding. He was being humorous, but he was actually more accurate than he knew. The relationship of a bishop and his local Church -- his diocese -- is very close to a marriage. The ring I wear is a symbol of every bishops love for his Church. And a bishops marriage to the local Church reminds me, and all of us who serve you as bishops, that a bishop is called to love his Church with all his heart, just as Christ loved her and gave his life for her.
Of course, my appointment to Philadelphia is an arranged marriage, and the Holy Father is the matchmaker. The good news is that romance is a modern invention -- and given the divorce rate common today, it's not everything its cranked up to be. In fact, history suggests that arranged marriages often worked at least as well as those based on romantic love. When arranged marriages were common, there was an expectation that people would get to know each other and then come to love one another. Good matchmakers were aware of the family history of each of the spouses and their particular needs. And the really wise matchmakers could make surprisingly good choices.
In the Church, we believe that the Holy Spirit guides the decisions of the Holy Father. And the results are always joyful if we commit our wills to cooperating with Gods plan. For any marriage to work, two things need to happen. People need to fall in love, and together they need to be fruitful. Thats what we need to dedicate ourselves to today to love one another and be fruitful together for the new evangelization.
Getting to know one other is a great adventure. Our life together is part of the story of salvation, which God continues even into our own time. Mary didnt expect the Annunciation. She didnt expect to be mother of our Redeemer. And yet her act of obedience changed the course of history and led to a new covenant of love and fruitfulness. I have no illusions of being worthy of this ministry, but I do trust the wisdom of the Holy Father. So Im deeply grateful for his confidence and the privilege of serving this local Church.
Along with a ring, two other symbols really define a bishops ministry. The first is the pectoral cross that rests next to the bishops heart. And Jesus tells us that if we want to be his disciples, we need to do three things (Mt 16:21-27): We need deny ourselves, we need to take up our cross, and we need to follow him. Its vitally important for the bishop to really believe this, to live it, and to preach it, even when calling people to accept very difficult things in fidelity to the Gospel.
The second symbol is the crosier, which is a symbol of the shepherd. The Good Shepherd was the first image of Christian art created by the earliest disciples in the catacombs in Rome. One of first representations of Jesus we have is the Good Shepherd who carries a lamb on his shoulders. All of us, especially the people of Philadelphia, should keep that image in our hearts in the months ahead because the Good Shepherd really will
bring the Church in Philadelphia through this difficult moment in our history to security and joy and a better future.
This installation today takes place in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul. The word cathedral comes from the Greek word cathedra,
which means "the chair." The cathedral is the church that houses the bishops chair, which has always been seen as another key symbol of the bishops role in this case, his teaching authority. St. Augustine of Hippo, speaking in the 4th century captured the role of the bishop in these words. He said:
Jerusalem had watchmen who stood guard . . . And this is what bishops do. Now, bishops are assigned this higher place -- the bishops chair in the basilica so that they themselves may oversee and, as it were, keep watch over the people. For they are called episkopos
in Greek, which means overseer, because the bishop oversees; because he looks down from [his chair] . . . And on account of this high place, a perilous accounting will have to be rendered [by the bishop] unless we stand here with a heart such that we place ourselves beneath your feet in humility.
Another time, on the anniversary of his episcopal ordination, Augustine described the bishops duties in the following way. He said (this is a big job):
To rebuke those who stir up strife, to comfort those of little courage, to take the part of the weak, to refute opponents, to be on guard against traps, to teach the ignorant, to shake the indolent awake, to discourage those who want to buy and sell, to put the presumptuous in their place, to modify the quarrelsome, to help the poor, to liberate the oppressed, to encourage the good, to suffer the evil and to love all men.
My dear brother bishops, its crucial for those of us who are bishops not simply to look like bishops but to truly be
bishops. Otherwise, were just empty husks -- the kind of men St Augustine referred to when he said, You say, He must be a bishop for he sits upon the cathedra
. True and a scarecrow might also be called a watchman in the vineyard.
My installation today takes place on the Feast of the Birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a feast which has its origin somewhere in Syria or Palestine at the beginning of the 6th century. The traditional date of the feast, September 8, falls exactly nine months after the Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Its an important feast because it prepares the way for the birth of Jesus. I was ordained a bishop on the feast of Marys parents, Saints Joachim and Anne. Fourteen years ago, I was installed as the archbishop of Denver on the Feast of the Annunciation. And now I celebrate my installation as bishop of the great Church of Philadelphia on the Feast of Marys birthday. For me, like so many other priests, Mary has been a constant source of hope and protection in my vocation. So I ask all of you today to pray for me to the mother of God so that she will surround all of us in the Church of Philadelphia with her love and protection.
The birthday of Mary is a turning point in the history of salvation, planned from all eternity by Gods divine providence. So the readings for today should reassure us in a powerful way. All the events of a believers life are shaped by the will of a loving God. Gods purpose undergirds everything that happens to Christians, for God is truly in control. So in the midst of the turmoil of the Church in our time, specifically in Philadelphia, this feast of Marys birth should remind us of Gods loving plan. We need to make the act of faith embedded in todays first reading: that all things work for the good of those who love God and who are called according to his purpose. And just as God foreknew and predestined Marys birth, God foreknew and predestined us
to be conformed to the image of his Son so that Jesus might be the firstborn of many brothers. Saint Jose Maria Escriva said this about the struggle with fear and anxiety that all of us sooner or later face: Have you forgotten that God is your father? Or [that God is] powerful, infinitely wise, full of mercy? [God] would never send you anything evil. The thing that is worrying you is good for you even though those earthbound eyes of yours may not be able to see it now.
Of course, in the unfolding of Scripture, Marys birthday is ultimately about the birth of her son. The Gospel for today is the story of how Jesus was conceived. And we honor Mary precisely because she gave birth to Jesus, our messiah and Lord. The Gospel focuses on Josephs goodness and fidelity, and on Marys perfect surrender to God in love, trusting in the providence of God. We need to follow the example of Mary and Joseph, trusting God in the difficult times of our life. The issues that Joseph and Mary faced seemed insurmountable and caused intense confusion, much like the issues in our local church. But the name given to Jesus signifies Savior and we know that in Jesus, God promises to be with us. God is truly Emmanuel God is with us
! This gives us great confidence in the future God has planned for us.
This Church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. Theres no quick fix to problems that are so difficult, and none of us here today, except the Lord Himself, is a miracle worker. But it's important to remember and to believe the Church is not defined by her failures.
And you and I are not defined by our critics or by those who dislike us. What we do in the coming months and years to respond to these challenges that
will define who we really are. And in engaging that work, we need to be Catholics first, and always. Jesus Christ is the center of our lives, and the Church is our mother and teacher. Everything we do should flow from that.
So, what we embark on today is a marriage, where someone who loves you, the Holy Father, is also someone who loves me. And the Holy Father knows in his wisdom that we will make a good family together. So we should see each other as gifts. I receive you as a gift from the Holy Father; and this requires that you receive me and my service as a gift from him, too. This requires that we make a commitment, an act of the will, to deepen our hearts, to love one another, to be patient with one another and, ultimately, to lay down our lives for one another.
So Ill close with repeating what I said in July to the bishops -- my dear brother auxiliary bishops -- priests and deacons of this diocese, to our men and women religious, our seminarians and to all the faithful: Whatever my weaknesses (and they're many) and whatever my lacks (and they're many, too), no bishop will give himself more joyfully than I will to renewing this Church together. No bishop will try harder to help persons who have been hurt by the sins of the past. And no bishop will work harder to strengthen and encourage my brother priests, and restore the hearts of our faithful. And everything Ive learned in my 24 years as a bishop and 41 years as a priest, and everything I have, I will give to this ministry, because all of you -- the people of God entrusted to my care -- deserve it, and I love you.
(Text adapted according to delivery.)