CWN – March 14, 2013
Celebrating Mass with the cardinals who had elected him, Pope Francis described the essence of the Church’s mission simply: “To walk, to build, to witness.”
The new Pope celebrated the Mass Pro Ecclesia with the cardinal-electors on Thursday afternoon in the Sistine Chapel. In his brief homily, delivered in Italian, he reflected on the three aspects of the Church’s work.
“Our life is a path,” the Pope said. “When we stop walking there is something that isn’t right.”
“To build is to construct the Church,” he continued, adding that the Church is built of “living stones, stones that are anointed by the Holy Spirit.”
Regarding witness, Pope Francis said: “We can walk when we want to, we can build many things, but if we do not witness to Jesus Christ then it doesn’t matter. We might become a philanthropic NGO but we wouldn’t be the Church, the Bride of the Lord.”
The path of the Church always entails difficulties, the Pope said, and Church leaders should be prepared to embrace them. He explained that “when we walk without the Cross, when we build without the Cross, when we profess a Christ without the Cross… we aren’t disciples of the Lord.” The Pontiff warned the cardinals that in this case: “We are worldly. We are bishops, priests, cardinals, popes, but not disciples of the Lord.”
Pope Francis concluded the first homily of his pontificate by saying: “I wish that all of us, after these grace-filled days, might have the courage, yes, the courage to walk in the Lord’s presence with the Cross of the Lord.” He asked for the intercession of Mary, the Mother of God, to assist the prelates in carrying out their duties.
In the Prayers of the Faithful, the cardinals prayed for the new Pope and also for Benedict XVI, “that he may serve the Church while hidden to the world, in a life dedicated to prayer and meditation.”
Additional sources for this story
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•To Walk, to Build, to Witness, Always with the Cross of Christ (VIS)
•Pope Francis: Mass pro Ecclesia (Vatican Radio)
•Pope Francis: 1st homily (full text from Vatican Radio)