Eternal Rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her. May her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God rest in peace. Amen.
Nearly eight years ago, I know exactly where I was when I heard the joyful news that there was a new Bishop of Rome. I was working in an office, and turned on BBC Radio 4, and heard the ringing of the bells of St Peter’s. I knew then, in my heart, that there was a leader for the world’s Roman Catholics.
At the time, I did not foresee that the man elected that day would resign as Bishop of Rome. As we all know, it is not a decision that has many precedents, but it has been known. As the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Church says,
Can. 332 §2 Should it happen that the Roman Pontiff resigns from his office, it is required that the resignation be freely made and properly manifested, but it is not necessary that it be accepted by anyone.
This is clearly in the CCL but it has not been used before since the promulgation of the new code in 1983. However, it does seem a sensible move by Benedict XVI.
It is not that long ago since Bishops of Dioceses did not retire: they died in office. I don’t have the relevant reference to hand, but it appears to have started to change in the 1960s. For instance, in the Diocese of Down and Connor in the twentieth century and the early twenty-first century:
|1895||1908||Henry Henry||Appointed 16 August; consecrated 22 September 1895; died 8 March 1908.|
|1908||1914||John Tohill||Appointed 5 August; consecrated 20 September 1908; died 4 July 1914.|
|1915||1928||Joseph MacRory||Appointed 18 August; consecrated 14 November 1915; translated toArmagh 22 June 1928.|
|1929||1962||Daniel Mageean||Appointed 31 May; consecrated 25 August 1929; died 18 January 1962.|
|1962||1982||William Philbin||Translated from Clonfert; appointed 5 June 1962; retired 24 August 1982; died 23 August 1991.|
|1982||1990||Cahal Daly||Translated from Ardagh and Clonmacnoise; appointed 24 August 1982; translated to Armagh 6 November 1990.|
|1991||2008||Patrick Walsh||Appointed titular bishop of Ros Cré and auxiliary bishop of Down and Connor on 6 April 1983; ordained bishop 15 May 1983; appointed diocesan bishop of Down and Connor on 18 March 1991; retired 22 February 2008.|
It can be clearly seen that the first Bishop of Down & Connor to resign in modern time rather than die in office was Bishop William Philbin, who resigned in August 1982, and died some time later in 1991.
To me it seems eminently sensible that the Bishop of Rome also has the chance to resign and I am pleased that Benedict XVI has started the practice by doing so himself.
I wish him every blessing in his retirement and assure him of my prayers and those of my brother priests in the Fraternity. We will be celebrating Votive Masses pro eligendo Summo Pontifice on days that are not Feasts or Solemnities until the election of the new Bishop of Rome. The Vicar General will issue an instruction as to the correct wording to be used in the Eucharistic Prayer to all Priests of the Fraternity.
Let us all thank the Lord that none of these ‘creations’ appear to have come into actual use. However, there is a real point to this. The fashions in ecclesiastical garb have changed over the centuries, but we are fortunate to be living in a time when beauty and functionality are both considered important.
[St Mary Bernard Soubirous] spent the rest of her brief life there, working as an assistant in the infirmary and later as a sacristan, creating beautiful embroidery for altar cloths andvestments.
The work of a sacristan is never done. There is always work to be done. With the daily Mass and the other offices, vestments and altar cloths become worn and need replacing. But I wonder if many people consider how and by whom they are made.
The Saint whose Feast Day our Fraternity celebrates today, one week after the great Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes last week, was one such sacristan. I wonder, if even today, there are vestments and altar cloths in use that were made by her.
Today, in my prayers at Mass, I remembered the work of all who strive to make the everyday materials that we use at Mass and the Sacraments the very best that they can make. May they continue to make items that are worthy of the King of Kings.
We thank you for the gift of sexual love, which You created at the dawn of time, to be a blessing for all generations throughout the earth, and an earthly reflection of Your passionate, possessive, jealous love for us through all the ages.
We pray that You would fill each and every marriage with Your love and grace, and that every husband and wife would know the joy that comes from sharing and giving.
We know, Lord, that every marriage is a model of Your love for us, but that it exists in this varied, evolving, finite, flawed world, that is created as You have seen fit. We thus ask Your blessing upon all married people, and upon all those whose love makes their union blessed and sacramental in Your eyes.
We thank You for all those who create homes and families of love, and wish to join with You in the Creation and Sustenance of all our children, especially those who chose to offer their parental love to those who are not their physical children. We see in Your Word so many examples of intense love between those who are bonded by commitment and choice, that we know that you live in ALL our families, whether they be Families of Birth, or Families of Choice.
We pray for all those who do not enjoy those blessings, remembering that you are Father and Mother to us all, especially the orphaned, and Husband and Wife to us all, especially to those who live lives of solitude, either by choice or by destiny.
We pray, as you have commanded us, for those in positions of civil authority.
We pray that Her Majesty’s Government will act with wisdom and righteousness, celebrating marriage as the recognition of lifelong love and commitment for all.
We pray for forgiveness for our nation, for a past in which Her Majesty’s Government has sought to make evil out of love, and to create artificial differences between Your Children, among whom we know You see not male or female, nor slave nor citizen.
And we pray for ourselves, that we would speak out in support of marriage for all with gentleness and kindness, but also with courage and confidence.
In the Name of Christ Jesus our Lord, and the spirit of Ruth and Naomi and of Jonathan and David, we pray.
We begin the second set of the Mysteries of the Rosary today in our series of intentions for Priests using the Rosary. Today we use the first of the Sorrowful Mysteries: The Agony in the Garden.
- We pray that all priests who are suffering and on the way to Calvary may be comforted by God’s presence; those who have betrayed or denied the Faith through weakness may repent and return to the warmth of God’s love.
- We pray that all priests may live only to do our Father’s will, as Jesus always did.
The fifth in the series of intentions for Priests is for the fifth Joyful Mystery: The Finding of Jesus in the Temple.
- We pray that priests will always be found going about their Father’s business.
- We pray for all young priests that the love and dedication they experience in the first years of their priesthood may increase with time.
- We pray for all priests who teach the Faith to children and adults.
The fourth in the series of intentions for Priests begun yesterday is for the fourth Joyful Mystery: The Presentation in the Temple.
- We thank God for all priests who, like Simeon, have given decades of faithful service. We pray that they may be rewarded for their generosity and self-sacrifice.
- We pray also for all priests whose hearts are pierced by loneliness, depression, and rejection.
The third in the series of intentions for Priests is for the third Joyful Mystery: The Nativity.
- We pray that all seminarians grow in knowledge and love of God to become holy priests.
- We pray especially for those who will be ordained soon, that they may remain faithful all their lives to the sublime privilege of being “other Christs” among us.
- We pray that everyone will come to value the Eucharistic Feast and the Priesthood as among God’s greatest gifts to us.
- We pray that every priest will consider himself a member of the Holy Family, a true son of Mary and Joseph, and a brother-priest of Jesus, the great High Priest.
The second in the series of intentions for Priests begun yesterday is for the second Joyful Mystery: The Visitation.
- We pray for especially for priests who bring Holy Communion to the sick, the shut-ins, and Viaticum to the dying.
- We pray for all the priests who minister to the sick in other ways, counselling, comforting, and consoling them