Friday, September 09, 2011

". . . that will define who we really are."

Yesterday afternoon, I was privileged to participate in the Mass of Installation for the new Roman Catholic Archbishop of Philadelphia, Capuchin Friar Charles Chaput. Under other circumstances, I might have brought a camera, but in this case it really wasn't possible: I attended somewhat 'officially' as a seminarian and was seated with other seminarians (both diocesan and religious) near the altar and the pulpit, so taking pictures would have been disruptive of the liturgy. Effectively camouflaged in a cassock and surplice, I probably don't stand out much in video recordings of the Installation Mass, which are available (at least at the time of writing) at Whispers in the Loggia and on YouTube.

For my part, I found the Installation Mass deeply inspiring on a number of levels - as an expression of hope on the part of Catholics who have been deeply wounded by scandal; as a gathering of clergy, seminarians and laypeople who represent the future of the Church; and as an opportunity to hear from a new shepherd who offered a genuinely hopeful message, one which I believe is most succinctly expressed in this paragraph from the homily that Archbishop Chaput gave yesterday:
This Church in Philadelphia faces very serious challenges these days. There's 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 that 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.
Inspiring words, I think - and a daunting challenge for all of us here to live up to. My prayers in the coming days will be for Archbishop Chaput and for all of the faithful of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia; may these days of struggle and suffering give way to days of hope and joy - days that will truly define who we really are. AMDG.


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