Today was another memorable one in the lives of these new bishops. After a morning session, we dawned our cassocks and headed to the hills to the summer residence of Pope Benedict XVI for a brief audience, and an opportunity to individually greet him. As in the lives of most Catholics, bishops included, it is a marvelous opportunity to be in the presence of and greet the Holy Father, the Successor of St. Peter.
It is hard to put into words, once again, what goes on in one´s heart in such moments. I´m reminded of a dear priest friend of mine, who died in the Spring of 2009, shortly before I was named a bishop. Msgr. Mario Marini had an avid love of St. John´s Gospel, of Priesthood, and of the Church. He spoke eloquently and often of friendship, and when he joined the two concepts of friendship and priesthood, he would get quite poetic!
His image of the priesthood (and for me in these days, of my brother bishops), he spoke of our common ¨friendship with Christ¨. (John 15:11-17) There also exists a friendship (or fraternity) among priests, as well as among bishops. This friendship, Msgr. Mario referred to as a “net”, which Christ casts into the sea of humanity. We have heard a lot this week about such fraternity, and of the necessity for us as bishops to root our lives in Christ, otherwise our ministry will bear no fruit, will draw no one to Christ.
To have such thoughts while sitting in a room of brother bishops, in the presence of our Holy Father, who no longer calls us¨sons”, but “brothers”, could not help but inspire me for the work which lies ahead to inspire others to draw near to Christ. Please, God, may it be so!