|My diaconate class with Archbishop Renato Boccardo
Today the one month countdown till diaconate ordination starts. I can’t believe it! After so much time preparing for the priesthood, I guess the fact that all this is about to happen is taking me by surprise.
On Sunday we traveled up to Norcia (where Saint Benedict was
born) to have lunch with Archbishop Renato Boccardo, who will ordain me and 22
other brothers deacons on June 29th. I arrived a little late, and as
a result got to sit at the Bishop’s table! He’s really young and really kind.
Before becoming a bishop, he was in charge of organizing Pope John Paul’s
travels. One of the brothers asked him if he had a favorite story about Pope
John Paul II. He said that when the Pope went to Syria, it was around the turn
of the millennium and he was getting very frail. He had to use a cane, but he still
insisted on walking down the stairs off the plane. It took him a good while,
but he finally made it to the tarmac, and, as if to show that he had done it,
he jabbed his cane down onto the concrete, with which the cane promptly snapped
in two. The guards had to go find a new cane, and it took them quite a while.
From then on, they always brought two canes on the plane whenever the Pope
traveled. Archbishop Boccardo said that this was how John Paul faced all his
sufferings: he saw himself as united to the sufferings of Christ on the cross,
and so he was going to carry on even though it hurt.
|Saint Rita's Tomb
After lunch we took a group photo with the Archbishop, and then he told us we had to visit a neighboring town – Cascia – home of Saint Rita of Cascia. The scenery was beautiful along the way, with snow-capped mountains and rushing streams on all sides. We were given a guided tour of where Saint Rita lived, and I was quite impressed by how packed the place was. It seemed like people flocked there from all over Italy.
|view of the mountains from Cascia
Yesterday Pope Francis gave a beautiful homily. His words are very pertinent for someone just about to become a priest. I leave them below if you’d like to read them.
In the meantime, keep me and my 22 companions in your prayers. There are 9 more who will be ordained deacons elsewhere, so we should be about 31 for the priestly ordination come December. And we all need all the help we can get!
God bless you abundantly,
“If you follow Jesus as a cultural proposal, then you are using this road to get higher up, to have more power. And the history of the Church is full of this, starting with some emperors and then many rulers and many people, right? And even some - I will not say a lot, but some – priests and bishops, right? Some say that there are many ... but they are those who think that following Jesus is a career. That is not the spirit. You cannot remove the Cross from the path of Jesus, it is always there,"
"Think of Mother Teresa: what does the spirit of the world say of Mother Teresa? 'Ah, Blessed Teresa is a beautiful woman, she did a lot of good things for others'. The spirit of the world never says that Blessed Mother Teresa spent, every day, many hours, in adoration. Never! It reduces Christian activity to doing social good. As if Christian life was a gloss, a veneer of Christianity. The proclamation of Jesus is not a veneer: the proclamation of Jesus goes straight to the bones, heart, goes deep within and changes us. And the spirit of the world does not tolerate it, will not tolerate it, and therefore, there is persecution. "
"Following Jesus, is just that: going with Him out of love, behind Him: on the same journey, the same path. And the spirit of the world will not tolerate this and what will make us suffer, but suffering as Jesus did. Let us ask for this grace: to follow Jesus in the way that He has revealed to us and that He has taught us. This is beautiful, because he never leaves us alone. Never! He is always with us.”