24 March 2013

"Let us protect Christ in our lives..."

Our General Minister, Br Mauro Jöhri, and most of the general councilors attended the Installation Mass of Pope Francis on Tuesday, 19 March 2013. Despite having spent a total of nearly seventeen years in Rome, I have never had this opportunity before since I was living in the United States when Pope Benedict XVI was installed. It was an experience I will not soon forget.

Pope Francis greets the pilgrims in St Peter Square
It was a beautiful, sunny day in Rome, seemingly tailor-made for the Mass in St Peter Square. A large number of pilgrims (between 100,000 and 300,000 depending on the source) from around the world were on hand to greet and pray with their Holy Father. Applause and cheers of "Viva il Papa!" erupted when he appeared in the open Popemobile. He rode through the entire square, as if he wished to greet each pilgrim personally, and he descended a few times to greet the disabled. The atmosphere was electric.

The Installation Mass coincided with the feast of St Joseph so the Pope took the occasion to wish his predecessor a happy feast day. The Pope's homily, delivered from the ambo, centered on the tenderness of St Joseph, who was the protector of Jesus and Mary. He called on all Christians to imitate the example of St Joseph: "Let us protect Christ in our lives, so that we can protect others, so that we can protect creation!" He then added that being a protector means "protecting all creation, the beauty of the created world, as the Book of Genesis tells us and as Saint Francis of Assisi showed us."

The Installation Mass is also a political event since it marks the inauguration of the head of the Holy See so there were many ambassadors and representatives of the nations on hand. Pope Francis also directed a message toward them: "let us be 'protectors' of creation, protectors of God’s plan inscribed in nature, protectors of one another and of the environment. Let us not allow omens of destruction and death to accompany the advance of this world!"

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