Liverpool's Archbishop Emeritus, Patrick Kelly, together with Bishop Tom Williams, Apostolic Administrator, and former Auxiliary Bishop, Vincent Malone, celebrated a Mass of Thanksgiving on the occasion of the Inauguration of the Papacy of Pope Francis.
It was in many senses a double celebration as the Mass took place in Liverpool's Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King on the Feast of St Joseph, co-patron of the Archdiocese of Liverpool.
The Choir of the Metropolitan Cathedral took part in the music of the Mass opening with Durufle’s setting of the great Papal anthem ‘Tu es Petrus’ (‘You are Peter’) in honour of Pope Francis and continuing with Palestrina’s ‘Gloria’ from the ‘Missa Brevis’; Durufle’s ‘Tantum Ergo’ and a Gregorian Chant Mass setting. The hymn after Communion was ‘Dear St Joseph’ in honour of the Feast.
In his homily Archbishop Emeritus Patrick gave thanks for Pope Francis and a 'pledge of prayer' saying:
'With very good reason tonight we accompany our thankfulness with a pledge of prayer because in the end fidelity to the loving wisdom of God, the wisest love, the generous love of our God made flesh in Jesus is the really massive challenge which Pope Francis embraces in the power of the Holy Spirit. The lowly Francis of Assisi, and then the discerning, Jesus focussed Ignatius of Loyola, and everyone who is lowly lowly and humble of heart is beyond doubt with our new Pope this evening and into the future, because in the end and as he spelt out so clearly this morning: it is and always will be the lowly and humble of heart and no others who can build this world into a household for God's daughters and sons.'
Introduction to Mass and homily preached by the Most Reverend Patrick Kelly, Archbishop Emeritus of Liverpool at Mass to celebrate the Inauguration of Pope Francis. Tuesday 19 March 2013, the Feast of St Joseph, at 5.15 pm in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool.
Introduction to Mass:
Saint Joseph’s Day: Saint Joseph: Protector of the Universal, the Catholic Church, the household of faith. Saint Joseph Patron of our diocese. And on this day it is right and fitting to pray in thanksgiving for Pope Francis: chosen by his Brother Cardinals from across the Globe, speedily and confidently after days of conversation and prayer, to be in our day: the Peter on which rock the Lord would build his church; Francis chosen by the Lord to re-build his Church corrupted by greed, rivalry, worldliness; Saint Ignatius Loyola renewed by the Holy Spirit to gather the Society, the Companions of Jesus, to discern in rigorous prayer how wisely, justly, selflessly to rebuild by prayer, wisdom, commitment to the poor the church of the sixteenth century, terribly torn apart.
We will not be surprised that the word of God proclaimed on this Saint Joseph’s day, will fully shape, deepen and make authentic our prayer today as we go forward with Francis our Pope of the Society of Jesus.
For me one of the weird but in the end wonderful blessings of the days of Pope Benedict was the number of times where I found that on occasions we were saying exactly the same thing, and it isn’t over yet. The words I now share with you I wrote before I heard what Pope Francis said this morning and the story is going on which is wonderful.
Who shall build a house, a dwelling place for God? Not David the mighty warrior. But Solomon, who prayed not for power over others, not for victories, but for wisdom. And eventually Isaiah would spell out who offers a household for God: ‘Thus says the Lord: Heaven is my throne and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is my resting place? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things are mine, says the Lord. But this is the one to whom I will look, to the humble and contrite spirit, who trembles at my word.’
And so as we heard in the Gospel proclaimed in St Peter’s Square this morning in Greek; when Mary, engaged to Joseph is found to be with child of the Holy Spirit, the child who is the Holy Son of God, the Word of God, Joseph is afraid: here I do not belong, here I am not worthy: he has to be assured: ‘Joseph, Son of David, do not be afraid’: you shall form a fitting household for him whose Body will be the new Temple. You will, as a father, give the name to Emmanuel God with us and name him Jesus, which means Saviour. And as it was for Joseph, so it had been for Mary too: When the angel Gabriel came to her in the name of God and acclaimed her as the true daughter of Zion: she was troubled, trembled at this coming close of God and had to be assured: ‘Do not be afraid’. A lowly handmaid was exactly the one who can conceive, bear in her womb, bring forth, nourish at her breast and mother him even unto death the one who is Emmanuel, God with us, the suffering servant.
In the last of his books which Pope Benedict gave us, his third book about Jesus of Nazareth, about the infancy of our Lord he brings together something which thrilled me. I had always wondered that the prophet Isaiah had two streams running through his poetry: one, Emmanuel, the other the Suffering Servant, but the great Isaiah did not bring them together. I have often wondered who did and I thought I think her name was Mary, she saw Emmanuel would be the Suffering Servant and I was thrilled when Pope Benedict gave the same teaching in that final book. Mary said ‘yes’ not just to Emmanuel but to Emmanuel who would be the Suffering Servant.
For in the loving wisdom and wisest love and generous love of God, the God who spared to Abraham our Father in Faith, as is so powerfully portrayed in Sean Rice’s statue here in our Cathedral. While God spared to Abraham his son Isaac; as our Stations of the Cross here recall and indeed the statue of Mary with her arms and her son's arms outstretched to form a cross, God did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all.
And to this Way of the Cross accomplished at Passover, the feast when the moon is full, any night now if the sky is clear we should be able to see a new moon because we’re close to fourteen days from the Passover feast. It is clear that Mary and Joseph were led step by step, including the Passover of which we have just heard when he was twelve years old, lost for three days, because he is accomplishing the Father’s will. They were led step by step to that final Passover.
The one to whom Jesus is obedient is precisely to those who ponder the meaning of events which foreshadow a cross, which means the household that has to be built for him, fitting for him, will enable him to find as his final bed a wooden cross, just as wooden manger was his first bed. The manger venerated in the Church of Saint Mary Major in Rome where Pope Francis went to pray on his first morning as Bishop of Rome. It was by living truly as Emmanuel, but also true to the name Joseph gave him, the name Jesus indicating the suffering servant that at the ninth hour in Jerusalem on Passover Eve Jesus declared: ‘It is accomplished’.
Now the Church Peter and his successor must build is only and to be wholly the Body of the Risen Lord, the Lord who always shows the wounds in hands and feet and side. The Church must be the body of him who was obedient, lowly unto death; who made our sinfulness his own and amazingly allowed the Holy Spirit to form in him, who was without sin, a contrite spirit, In the words of St Paul, ‘God made him into sin who knew no sin’, and this is where we have got to invent new words so that the Holy One would ‘mercy’ us, heal us, lead us to become in the words of Pope Francis' Lenten Pastoral letter to his people in Bueno Aires so that we would become ‘the goodness of God.’
We now know his Coat of Arms is so strange, with words taken from St Bede the Venerable, of our own country, who is on one of our banners here in the Cathedral, ‘miserando atque eligendo’. It almost cannot be translated but it is all about the call of Matthew: he ‘mercied’ him and in ‘mercying’ him chose and called him.
With very good reason tonight we accompany our thankfulness with a pledge of prayer because in the end fidelity to the loving wisdom of God, the wisest love, the generous love of our God made flesh in Jesus is the really massive challenge which Pope Francis embraces in the power of the Holy Spirit. The lowly Francis of Assisi, and then the discerning, Jesus focussed Ignatius of Loyola, and everyone who is lowly lowly and humble of heart is beyond doubt with our new Pope this evening and into the future, because in the end and as he spelt out so clearly this morning: it is and always will be the lowly and humble of heart and no others who can build this world into a household for God's daughters and sons.
If tonight we feel we are small, not very big, it does not matter in the slightest. The future is entrusted to us as it always has been; lowliness the form and face of our God.