Local seminarian reflects on participation in papal installation Mass
(Photos courtesy of Deacon Michael Pierz)
By Deacon Michael Pierz
Editor’s note: Deacon Michael Pierz (pictured above left) continues his firsthand reports from Rome, where he is a student at the North American College. Deacon Pierz, who will be ordained in June, tells iobserve about being a part of the papal Mass.
VATICAN CITY – My day as a witness to history:
A day at the North American College usually begins with the sight of seminarians hurrying out with backpacks or riding bicycles to class after morning Mass and breakfast. Today, instead, saw young men in cassocks with blue or white tickets in hand. These tickets were the access to the great celebration that was the Papal Inauguration of Pope Francis.
Today, March 19, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, who is the Guardian of the Holy Family, the Patron of the Universal Church, the chaste spouse of the Virigin Mary and humble protector of the Child Jesus, is also the day the Catholic Church celebrates the beginning of the Petrine ministry of her newest chief shepherd.
With my brother seminarians, priests, and deacons of the North American College, I joined several hundreds of thousands in St. Peter's Square and the streets all around it, along with millions more on television, radio, and the Internet, in welcoming our supreme pontiff, our bishop of Rome.
With our blue or white tickets, we were asked to assist with the distribution of holy Communion at this Mass that welcomed both dignitaries and ordinary faithful, tourists and residents of Rome. Seated only a few steps away from the altar, we watched as Pope Francis received the “pallium,” the woolen yoke that is placed over his shoulders as a sign of his ministry for service in the church, and his “fisherman's ring,” that signifies his authority in the Petrine office as successor of St. Peter.
In his homily, Pope Francis reminded each of us of the serene example of St. Joseph. He is the protector, firstly of Mary and Jesus, and in them, the very beginning of the church. Through his “unfailing presence and utter fidelity” he is an example to each of us, whether priests or deacons, men or women religious, faithful in the pews or out in the streets. We are each called to live as St. Joseph, “constantly attentive to God, open to the signs of God's presence and receptive to God’s plans, and not simply to (our) own.”
In Catholic life, we are each given the charge by God to be such protectors wherever we are. We must take care of all creation, “the beauty of the created world,” whose stewards we are. We must take care of all people, especially children, the elderly, and the sick. We must take care of the poorest of the poor, in whom we see Jesus himself.
As I sat there, under the clear blue sky, surrounded by priests and deacons in white vestments, I noticed how the stole lay draped on the shoulder of the deacon in front of me. Right over his shoulder, I could see the stitched cross that usually marks the center crease of the stole, a cross the priest or deacon kisses as he puts it on, preparing for Mass.
At that moment, it was a silent reminder of the cross carried on the shoulder of Christ on his way to redeem us all. With the words of Pope Francis in my ears and the simple image of the cross in my eyes, I was filled with the zeal for holy service that is the Christian vocation. To be Christian means to bear the cross with Christ. To be Christian means to love Christ as we encounter him in the suffering, the poor, and the everyday. To be Christian is an invitation for us all.Today, Pope Francis has officially begun his ministry as our Holy Father. May we take his words to heart and live them faithfully in our own lives: “Let us protect with love all that God has given