This morning has been a very enjoyable one for me. To begin with, a young friend showed up for Mass here at the monastery with good news about the improvements in his life, which wasn’t going so well there for a while. He seems much happier now, and is experiencing what Our Lord means when he says to us in the Scriptures: “the truth will make you free.” And what a beautiful liberation it is!
Then, when I came to my computer, I found a message on it from friends who are in Rome. They went from Houston to attend the consistory held by Pope Benedict to install the new Cardinals, one of whom is Cardinal DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston. The delight and the excitement of the trip was very apparent in the email message, and I could share their pleasure, remembering the months of my sabbatical in Rome in 1995. There is a certain special grace in the Eternal City, felt most clearly during and after the great ceremonies in the Vatican. When the Masses and other celebrations are over, the bells peal out over the city, and thousands of people—locals and pilgrims alike—come streaming out of Saint Peter’s basilica and square, radiating the joy of having seen and been with our Supreme Pontiff, and having been present at the canonizations or beatifications of saints, the election of a new pope, the creation of cardinals, the ordinations of bishops and priests, or even the ordinary appearances of the Pope at his window high up in the Vatican Palace or on the steps of the basilica for his Wednesday audiences. Rome is an utterly unique city. It was for centuries the capital of the Roman Empire, and then the mother diocese of all the Catholic dioceses of the world. When the Pope stands on the balcony of Saint Peter’s basilica at his first blessing, and then every Christmas and Easter, he gives his blessing “urbi et orbi”—to the city (of Rome) and to the world.
Now, the Holy Father has created 23 new cardinals whom he sends back to their home dioceses throughout the world to be his special advisers and collaborators throughout the entire Church, and, upon his death, to choose his successor upon the Chair of Peter. Thank you for seeking God’s truth. God bless you. Father Victor Brown, O.P.
Note: This Message was composed some years ago.