Gritty black dawn, sun behind cloud and a hard wind blowing. Before prayer and meditation this morning, I sat reading a passage from Dom Chapman on prayer and then paragraphs from Karl Adam’s opening chapter to The Spirit of Catholicism, such penetrating beauty and affirmation. Reminders of what has gone before, the insights and continuity amidst rupture in our post-modern societies. What will endure, what is bedrock, the deep organic life hidden in the Body of Christ.
Last night’s footwashing ceremony in Rome, such a moving ceremony. During this intimate service, the Pope washed and kissed the feet of 12 young detainees to replicate the Bible’s account of Jesus Christ’s gesture of humility towards his 12 apostles on the night before he was crucified.
I’m not someone who has ever had much time with the ‘personality cult’ that sometimes develops around Popes (as a convert in the early 1980s, I was baffled by the huge popularity and celebrity attention given to the younger JPII) and as yet we know little of who Pope Francis is and what he might do in office. But what an edgy, challenging and inspiring start to his papacy! And I feel (especially from here in Africa) that the poor are hearing him, they know he will speak for them, try to encourage the priests to come out to them in the slums and refugee camps. He is a Pope for everyone, but with a burning love for the outcasts.
A Shepherd who doesn’t mind afflicting the comfortable even as he comforts the afflicted.