The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Papal Mass in Philadelphia

I'm sitting at home in the comfort of my living room watching Pope Francis celebrate Mass at the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul in Philadelphia. The pope delivered a wonderful homily, referring to Philadelphia native, Saint Katherine Drexel, and reminding us that we are all, especially the laity, called to do God's work in the world. 

At the moment a large group of my brother deacons are receiving the Blessed Sacrament in that beautiful church. How good to see so many of them gathered together.

One thing becomes evident at these papal Masses, though: music ministers hate silence. But I suppose that's to be expected. How often does the music ministry of a church get to exercise that ministry in the presence of a pope, and before a worldwide audience? And I must admit, the choir and musicians at the Cathedral were exceptional. Afterwards the congregation even gave them a standing ovation marked by exuberant cheers. That's not something often encountered in a Catholic church. 

I suppose this is good as it reflects the enthusiasm of Pope Francis who joyfully invites all of humanity to accept Jesus Christ. He invites all to come and be welcomed by the Church. He does not demand that all accept the Church's moral and theological teachings before they can enter its doors. Instead he says, "Come. Meet Jesus along with me and countless others. Get to know Jesus Christ as a person. Only then will you come to understand and accept His teachings." The Church has one overriding mission: evangelization. "Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing team in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you..." [Mt 28:19-20] Pope Francis accepts this mission and carries out the command of Christ just as it was proclaimed on the mountaintop: make disciples, baptize, and teach. Too many don't realize that Pope Francis remains in perfect unity with his predecessors when it comes to the Church's moral teachings. It is his approach that differs.

But now I must get ready for our parish's 4 p.m. vigil Mass at which I will assist our pastor. The music at our Mass, while not quite as spectacular as that in Philadelphia, will still make a joyful and beautiful noise unto the Lord as we celebrate the Holy Sacrifice, just as thousands of Catholic churches throughout the world will do tonight and tomorrow. We belong to a universal Church, and for that I am truly thankful. 

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