Skip to comments.Francis's First Visit to Rome suburbs (confession, communion, teaches catechism)
Posted on 05/31/2013 5:39:31 AM PDT by NYer
ROME, May 31, 2013 – The visit of Pope Francis, on Trinity Sunday, to the parish of Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah to the far north of the city, the first of a series of his visits to Roman parishes, immediately distinguished itself by several original characteristics.
The pope arrived early in the morning, before the time announced, and the first thing he wanted to do was to meet one-on-one the children baptized in the past year, about fifty of them, together with their parents.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio is highly sensitive about the baptism of children. On the previous day, in the morning homily at Saint Martha's, he had cited the example of a teenage mother who had asked to have her child baptized and was refused. “The child is in no way at fault for the marital status of his parents” - this has been his principle since he was a bishop in Argentina - and in fact baptism “often becomes for the parents a new beginning.” Woe to those who set up a “pastoral customs agency" in front of this gate of entry into the Christian life: “So many times we are supervisors of the faith, instead of becoming facilitators of the faith of the people.”
The second novelty of the visit took place shortly afterward. The pope entered the sacristy, closed the door, and before celebrating Mass he heard the confession, one after another, of eight parishioners chosen at random. There were supposed to have been five, but three were added unexpectedly. The reporter from “L'Osservatore Romano” wrote: “When that door opened there came out a radiant face, most of the time furrowed with tears.”
Before him, John Paul II and Benedict XVI had heard confessions at St. Peter's during Holy Week. Pope Joseph Ratzinger had also heard confessions at World Youth Day in Madrid, in 2011.
Francis, however, wanted to hear confessions in the parish, right before Mass. He gave a good example to priests and faithful. He wanted to make visible the connection between confession and communion, which must be received only when one is “in the grace of God.”
A third innovation, less unexpected this time, took place during the homily. The pope set aside the pages with the text provided and improvised completely, cobbling together with the children present in the first rows a dialogue of question and answer, in the style of the classic catechism, on the theme of that day's feast, the Trinity.
The text of his homily, transcribed word for word, is on the website of the Vatican and is presented in its entirety further below. But a simple reading of it is not enough to make it comprehensible. One must above all see and hear how Francis conducted the dialogue with his little listeners and the faithful crowded into the space in front of the church. And this is possible thanks to the video recording that the Vatican television center has made available on the internet.
Fourth. Communion. Pope Bergoglio usually does not give it to anyone. He does not wish - and he has said so - that persons should present themselves before him to receive it who are seeking publicity, or worse, from an unclear position with respect to the doctrine and morality of the Church. He does not wish, that is, that there should happen with the pope what for example happened a few hours before, on Saturday, May 25 in Genoa, during the funeral for Fr. Andrea Gallo, when to receive communion from the hands of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco came the famous transvestite Vladimir Luxuria, and the photo ended up in the newspapers.
But this time Francis did give out communion. To the sixteen boys and girls who received it from him for the first time, and to the dozens of other children who had made their first communion in the parish during the previous months. He gave it only to them, who were the emblem of the pure heart with which one must approach the sacrament. They received it standing, not kneeling as with Benedict XVI. In any case Francis clearly wanted to highlight the sanctity of this culminating moment of Christian initiation.
Fifth. At the end of the Mass, the sixteen children who shortly before had received their first communion gathered around the pope (see the photo) and sang for him the blessing of St. Francis of Assisi. And he, Pope Francis, listened to the singing of the children with his head bowed and hands clasped, accepting the blessing with profound devotion, as he had done on the very evening of his election, on the loggia of the basilica of Saint Peter, when he asked for and received the blessing beseeched by the people. In both cases closing with: "I thank you for this.”
At the end of this morning spent “on the periphery,” Francis returned to the Vatican, where he was awaited for the midday Angelus, with a crowded St. Peter's Square .
But it is likely that his upcoming visits to other Roman parishes will last longer and will bring more innovations.
He’s amazing. These homilies every day are so enlightening and uplifting. Hard not to love him already.
I’m not Catholic, but man....I love this guy! That rapport with the kids....fantastic.
If he keeps this up, a lot of guys are going to wonder if they have a vocation, I think. He makes being a priest look like a joyful, purposeful life.
This is always a pleasure to read. Great stuff.
I totally agree. Unfortunately, Pope Francis' "ad lib" approach poses problems for Vatican Radio and other news outlets that depend on transcripts of the homilies. It has been decided that his daily homilies from the chapel at his residence, Domus Sanctae Marthae, will now be summarized.
Therefore, for the sake of "making accessible to a wide public the richness of the pope's homilies [at Saint Martha's] without altering their nature," the decision was made - the note continues - to publish each time only "an extensive summary, rich also with original phrases in quotation marks that may reflect the genuine flavor of the pope's expressions."
This task has been delegated to "L'Osservatore Romano" and Vatican Radio, the latter with some clips of the original audio recording, one of which is also offered as a video clip from the Centro Televisivo Vaticano.
This evening (in Rome), the pope led a prayer service and candlelit procession with the statue of Mary, to mark both the end of the month of Mary and the Feast of the Visitation to Elizabeth. At the conclusion, he delivered a prepared homily; so I will be posting it shortly. Just waiting for the news service to post photos from the event. Normally, it is held in the Vatican gardens. However, due to the large crowds, it was switched to St. Peter's Square. This pope is like a magnet, drawing huge numbers of people. On Wednesday, despite downpours, the square was packed to capacity - a see of umbrellas. Undaunted, Pope Francis rode around the square in an open jeep. He walked up the steps, soaking wet, and an aide met him with a roll of paper towels to sop up the moisture on his head. The most remarkable thing about this was that he smiled all the way.
From the original article posted above:
To the five innovations presented above, during the visit of Pope Francis to the parish of Saints Elizabeth and Zechariah, another can be added.
At the beginning of the Mass, in responding to the greeting from the pastor, Francis made this quip: "The pope is in the Vatican, eh? Today the bishop has come here."
In effect, in this first visit to a parish of his diocese, Francis has wanted to present himself visibly - unlike his predecessors - more as a simple bishop of Rome than as supreme pontiff.
In the last visit made by Benedict XVI to a Roman parish, that of Saint Patrick on December 16, 2012, the pope was accompanied - as is the tradition - by the two highest dignitaries of the prefecture of the pontifical household, the prefect and the regent.
This time, however, neither of them was part of the pontifical entourage, neither Archbishop Georg Gänswein nor Monsignor Leonardo Sapienza.
Pope Francis is truly unique ... a one of a kind. The Holy Spirit always gives us the right man at the proper time. God bless him!
Dont catch cold, Holy Father!
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