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Cardinals Gather in Conclave, Church Gathers in Prayer, Come Holy Spirit

By Deacon Keith Fournier
March 12th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The eyes of the world look to Rome, most with great interest in an institution which has endured for over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church. Rome is filled with a sense of hopeful anticipation. We will soon have a new Pope. The speculation is over. The self styled experts have had their day in the sun. Now, the real work begins, in prayer - and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Cardinal Electors gather to select the 265th successor of the Apostle Peter to govern the Church of Jesus Christ in this critical moment in history.

VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - The eyes of the world look to Rome, most with great interest in an institution which has endured for over 2,000 years, the Catholic Church. Rome is filled with a sense of hopeful anticipation. We will soon have a new Pope. 

The speculation is over. The self styled experts have had their day in the sun. Now, the real work begins, in prayer - and by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Cardinal Electors gather to select the 265th successor of the Apostle Peter to govern the Church of Jesus Christ in this critical moment in history.

The Cardinal Electors will first concelebrate a pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass in St. Peter's Basilica in the morning. The Holy See has released the order of Service which can be read here.Who will preach? It is presumed it will be the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Angelo Sodano.

It may be of interest that, in the traditional Catholic liturgical calendar, the Conclave falls on the Feast of St Gregory the Great. That Feast is celebrated in the revised liturgical calendar on September 3. No matter when it is celebrated, Gregory the Great would be a great model for our next Pope.

The last pro eligendo Romano Pontifice Mass celebrated was on April 18, 2005, following the death of Blessed John Paul II. Then Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who went on to be elected and take the name Benedict XVI, gave a homily wherein he proclaimed these often quoted words:

"Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labeled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting oneself be "tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine", seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one's own ego and desires."

"We, however, have a different goal: the Son of God, the true man. He is the measure of true humanism. An "adult" faith is not a faith that follows the trends of fashion and the latest novelty; a mature adult faith is deeply rooted in friendship with Christ. It is this friendship that opens us up to all that is good and gives us a criterion by which to distinguish the true from the false, and deceit from truth. We must develop this adult faith; we must guide the flock of Christ to this faith. And it is this faith - only faith - that creates unity and is fulfilled in love."

Catholics around the world, joined by other Christians who know the significance of this vote and the important office it will fill, are praying for the Holy Spirit to guide the entire election process. How desperately we need a holy, hearty, humble, naturally and supernaturally gifted, dynamically orthodox and courageous Pope to steer the Barque of Peter.  

Tuesday afternoon, the 115 Cardinal Electors will come together in the Pauline Chapel where they will pray and reflect upon the momentous task with which they are entrusted by the Lord, who still works through His Church. They will then process, singing together the Litany of the Saints followed by the singing of the ancient hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, invoking the Holy Spirit, into the Sistine Chapel, where they will be formally seated.
 
Cardinal Prospero Grech, an Augustinian friar from Malta, will present a biblical meditation on the grave duty entrusted to the Cardinals. Afterward, the 115 cardinals will take an oath pledging to be faithful to the rules of the conclave, maintain secrecy and not interfere with the process of electing the next Pope.  Cardinal Angelo Sodano will read the oath and each Cardinal will lay his hand upon the Book of the Gospels, and individually pronounce the oath.
 
After all the 115 Cardinals have taken the oath, the Master of the Papal Ceremonies, Msgr. Guido Marini ,will order anyone other than the Cardinal Electors and conclave participants to leave the Sistine Chapel. He takes his position at the wooden doors of that beautiful chapel and proclaims "Extra omnes!"  the, the doors close and the process begins.

We invite our readers around the world to spend tomorrow in a reflective and prayerful posture. We ask, wherever possible, that you attend Holy Mass or, at least make a visit to the Blessed Sacrament, to pray for the Cardinal Electors to be guided in their service to the Church. This papal election has profound importance in bot the Church and the world into which she is sent.

Faithful Catholics know that what may be perceived by some as an ancient or outdated process by some is, in reality, a vehicle through which the Lord will manifest His plan for the Church. It has immense implications for the Church - and the world into which she is sent to continue in time the work of her head and founder, Jesus Christ. The Church is Christ's plan for the whole human race.

We do not make the Church in our image; the Church re-makes us into Christ's Image through the grace which is mediated through the Sacraments, revealed in His Word and experienced in our ecclesial life together as members of the mystical Body of Christ. We are invited to exercise our human freedom and respond to the Lord's continual gifts of grace.

The Church is the vine into which we are to be grafted. There we receive the nourishment we need to grow in holiness. The Church is the Risen Jesus, Sacramentally made present in the world. One of the most quoted sayings of the early Church fathers is from Cyprian of Carthage who wrote, "He cannot have God for his father who has not the church for his mother".

The Church is where we learn to love as we enter into the communion of the Love of the Trinity by participation. Birthed from the wounded side of the "New Adam" on the altar of the Cross, the Church is His Body. He has been raised and the Head and the Body cannot be separated. 

The early Christians believed that to belong to Jesus was to belong to His Church. They believed that just as we were all born from our mother's womb - so we are invited by God, in and through Jesus Christ, to be born again into the Church, the new humanity being re-created in Him.

Catholic Christians still believe this. The process of redemption begins when we pass through the Sacramental Waters of the font of Holy Baptism. It continues as we cooperate with the Grace given to us in our life within the Church. We are called to grow in holiness, revealing the very life of Christ to a world waiting to be born again in Him.

Redemption will only be fully completed when the Lord Returns and we are raised in Resurrected Bodies and live in a new heaven and a new earth! This understanding of the Church as a real participation in Christ and entry into the Trinitarian Communion runs throughout the writings of the early Church Fathers.

Origen wrote: "Christ has flooded the universe with divine and sanctifying waves. For the thirsty he sends a spring of living water from the wound which the spear opened in His side. From the wound in Christ's side has come forth the Church, and He has made her His bride"

Bishop Ireneaeus of Lyons, a disciple of Polycarp, who was himself a disciple of the Apostle John, wrote: "We need to take refuge with the Church, to drink milk at her breast, to be fed with the scriptures of the Lord. For the Church has been planted in the world as a paradise" The early Christians did not see the Church as something onerous or optional, they saw it as normative for every Christian and life giving.

The decision which could be made as early as tomorrow evening has extraordinarily important implications. We need to pray intensely and fervently. I close by inviting my readers to join with me in reciting this prayer, written by Archbishop William Lori of the Diocese of Baltimore, Maryland:

"O Lord Jesus Christ, Supreme Pastor of Your Church, we thank you for the ministry of Pope Benedict XVI and the selfless care with which he has led us as Successor of Peter, and Your Vicar on earth. Good Shepherd, Who founded Your Church on the rock of Peter's faith and have never left Your flock untended, look with love upon us now, and sustain Your Church in faith, hope, and charity. Grant, Lord Jesus, in Your boundless love for us, a new Pope for Your Church who will please You by his holiness and lead us faithfully to You, who are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Amen."

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