Today, our group of bishops seeking to live these days in fraternity and mutual love, began with Morning Prayer and Mass. The group of ‘focolarini’ who have cared for us during these days also join us for Mass, and they add a richness with their voices and songs. After Mass, we had breakfast and then dressed in our cassocks for our trip to the Vatican and our audience with Pope Francis.
Our presentations continue to be very insightful, very concrete in sharing the spirituality of mutual love which was at the heart of Chiara Lubich, and continues to be the foundational way of life for the focolare family. Yesterday afternoon our panel discussion was well staffed by the Cardinal Prefect of the Pontifical Council for the promotion of Christian unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch. Joining him was the Bishop of Limerick, Bishop Brendan Leahy, who gave a brilliant discourse on the Synodality and Communion of the Church.
In shorts, this means that we (believers) are all on this pilgrimage of faith together. An image for our ‘communion’ with one another, the mutual love that we are to practically live every day, is the Trinity. The ‘communion’ of love shared by the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not only the fountain of our existence, and the fountain of our love, but also the image of how we are to love one another in practical ways in our daily life.
The Church is a sign of ‘communion’ of God with all of His people. We must work to ‘cultivate’ space within the Church where this communion exists. As Pope Francis strongly emphasized in his Exhortation, The Joy of the Gospel, we all share a co-responsibility for the mission of the Church, which is to proclaim and present Christ to the world.
God in Christ has taken up His dwelling within each of us through Baptism and He continually nourishes this Presence through the other Sacraments. Likewise, God in Christ is at the center of the People of God. He is in our midst, as we journey together on this pilgrimage of faith to the Kingdom of Heaven.
This morning, we arrived at St. Peters well in advance of our meeting with Pope Francis. Once we were led into the Clementine Hall, we had time to visit prior to the Pope’s arrival. The more ‘relaxed atmosphere’ under Pope Francis is quite noticeable. Once the photographers arrived, we know Pope Francis could not be far behind.
“Bishops are called upon to bring to these meetings the broad range of the Church, and to ensure that all they receive is put to the benefit of the entire Church”.
“Today’s society has a great need for the witness of a style of life, from which their transpires the ‘newness’ offered to us by Lord Jesus: brothers who care for each other in spite of their differences of character, origins, or age. This testimony gives rise to the desire to be involved in the great trajectory of communion that is the Church”.
Citing Pope John Paul II in the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, Pope Francis went on to say:“’To make the Church the home and the school of communion’ is truly fundamental for the efficacy of every commitment to evangelisation, inasmuch as it reveals the deepest yearning of the Father: that all His sons live as brothers; and it reveals the will of Christ, ‘that all of them may be one’; and it reveals the dynamism of the Holy Spirit, its free and liberating force of attraction. Cultivating the spirituality of communion also contributes to making us more able to walk the path of ecumenism and interreligious dialogue”.
These days have been a tremendous blessing. We bishops are forming many new friendships, learning more about the various parts of the world and of the Church. More than anything, our fraternity and prayer are renewing our joy, strength and enthusiasm for the apostolic ministry entrusted to each of us.
We will conclude our assembly tomorrow with Mass and lunch. Know that all of you continue in my prayers!