Pope Francis crashes lunch of priests who serve the poor

In what Rocco calls “more Francis chaos,” on Holy Thursday after the Chrism Mass Pope Francis crashed a lunch with priests in Rome who serve the poor:

Pope Francis had lunch with seven Roman priests on Thursday after celebrating the Chrism Mass in the Vatican Basilica. The meal took place in the apartment of Archbishop Angelo Becciu, Substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State. Most of the priests work with the poor and under-privileged in the suburbs of Rome. The Archbishop has held this lunch for several years, and when Pope Francis heard about it, he wanted to attend.

The priests were impressed with how “heard” they felt, how attentively Francis listened to them.

Full story here.


  1. “He said, ‘Open the doors of the Church, and then the people will come in…if you keep the light on in the confessional and are available, then you will see what kind of line there is for confession’…The Pope said he was confident of the need of the people of God for priests to open the doors and allow the people to meet God,” Msgr. Feroci told Vatican Radio.

    I do like the sound of this. We can’t do enough to encourage confession.

  2. Pope Francis has a strong devotion to the poor. Perhaps the greatest effect of Vatican II on Latin America was the preferential option for the poor. The Pope is at home with the poor and with those who minister to them. Hermeneutic of continuity?

  3. Here’s the part I liked best. The final comment about the hopefulness that Pope Francis exudes:

    “I had this feeling that this is someone who loves the Church and invites you to love the Church, too, to the end – for life – and that it’s worth it.”

    Wonderful. And so much what we all need.

  4. I am just blown away by what has happened since 13th March. Francis is the embodiment of leadership by example and is much, much more than I ever dared hope for in a successor to Benedict.

  5. I know this may not be the noblest of reasons to like this Pope, but I do believe his example and actions will bring my wife back into full communion. Perhaps others, as well.

    1. @Charles Day – comment #5:
      I think it is a great reason to like this Pope. I also think you are right. He has given new meaning to the new evangelization!

  6. Something is happening, that’s for sure.

    I have spoken with both family members and friends. They all said that their parish churches were SRO for the Mass of the Lord’s Supper this year, as they had not been in previous years.

    I wonder if others of you are hearing similar reports?

    1. @Fr. Ron Krisman – comment #7:
      I’ve hesitated to post this because I feared I’m seeing what I want to. But I’ll go ahead. Here’s what I’ve seen:

      First Sunday after pope’s election, Fifth Sunday of Lent, our Sunday Mass had way more people than ever, and they sang like crazy. Then it was the same on Palm Sunday. And Holy Thursday. And Good Friday. Attendance up, participation up. It’s palpable.


    2. @Fr. Ron Krisman – comment #7:
      There’s defnitely something in the air/water/oil! Our attendance isn’t up a lot, but it’s up slightly year over year.

      It’s a good time to drop in I just read Pope Francis shortened the Easter Vigil at St. Peter’s this year. From the Vatican’s website, it appears there were only 3 Old Testament readings (a shortened creation pericope, Exodus and Ezekiel). And no double profession of faith (one for those to be baptized and another for the assembly), as we’re instructed to do in our Archdiocese. Why do I bring this up? At least according some secular media sources, it’s his preference to shorten liturgies to make them more accessible for the average person. Especially interesting as I remember hearing on the Notre Dame Liturgy ListServ that some bishop on the East Coast is requiring every parish to use every reading. I love liturgy–I wouldn’t be on this blog if I didn’t. But there does seem to be some wisdom (or just “street cred”) in his shortened vigil plan. It does seem odd to require every parish to use every reading, especially if there are no baptisms–and certainly not very pastoral. Of course, if you don’t proclaim all nine readings at St. Peter’s in the Vatican, where would you?

  7. Dare we think that the vision of the Church that came from the Council is at last being considered, a Church that is open to the world rather than inwardly turned to its own structures?
    One of the folk hymns from the Sixties,” Go tell everyone” , has the line “you don’t need two shirts for your back, a workman can earn his own keep”.
    Maybe there is something of that in the rejection by Francis of the papal apartments, of a simpler style of vestment and of his wish to be close to people whose pastoral experience is real. We indeed have much to learn from a man whose life has been Gospel-lived.

  8. Hearing confessions this season has been a source of joy. Partly because during our conversation, I would ask penitents how they like Pope Francis. They exude first with a warm smile, and then their eyes sparkle with hope as words seem to resonate with the inner peace they have in their hearts. Forgiveness, welcome, humility, simplicity … and many more sacred sentiments become so palpable. The Gospel becomes real once again.

  9. From the trenches in exile …

    We’re still 3 weeks away to our return to our church. Holy Thursday and Good Friday, which usually draw close to 500 (despite many students leaving for Easter weekend) were around 350 this year, at best, in an auditorium on campus.

    We decided to trim Easter Vigil from nine readings to six because that Mass is in our basement and the chairs not terribly comfortable.

    Maybe it’s time for me to let go of some Old Testament stories that are troublesome. I understand Genesis 22 intellectually. But as a parent, I want to jeer Abraham all through the narrative.

    Where would all nine readings be done? A mature parish able and willing to handle it all. I don’t think my parish music ministries are quite up to the quality of the lectors. Our Vigil is very good, but it’s not the best we could do. And if we want to draw people for 2.5 hours, we do need to be much better. Then hope the cred spreads.

    Most young adults don’t get it because their rural Iowa parishes may not have gotten it. It doesn’t help us that many people leave for Easter weekend. Still, this is something I will engage willingly in discernment for future years. We have to draw more students to the Vigil, no question. Pope Francis isn’t going to do it for us.

    1. @Todd Flowerday – comment #12:
      Where would all the readings be done? A few years ago, in the tiny church of The Sacred Heart in Milledgeville, GA. My youngest daughter was dating a fellow entering the church , and the priest was a Baptist convert and newly ordained. It is a beautiful liturgy and this priest was excited to read/sing every single word. And you know what? It wasn’t that bad. Even with the 1 1/2 drive home we still got back before sunrise. And that priest could sing, too, which helps a lot. My current parish (and many others) have to do an English version and a Spanish version, and you can’t start until the sun goes down, so we have to truncate a little to get them both in.

      1. @Charles Day – comment #18:
        an English version and a Spanish version … so we have to truncate a little to get them both in.

        I belong to a Polish/English parish (definitely not an English/Polish parish, if you get my meaning), but there’s only one Easter Vigil liturgy, bilingual if I remember last year’s correctly.

        It seems weird to me to have multiple celebrations of a “unique” liturgical event (Easter Vigil) in a single parish… but I suppose that’s my lack of experience (pastoral and otherwise).

    2. @Todd Flowerday – comment #12:
      Where would all nine readings be done?

      My previous parish (Queenship of Mary in Plainsboro, NJ) does all the readings for the Easter Vigil. There are plenty of lectors at the parish, so the Easter Vigil Mass usually employs one lector per reading. The woman who reads the Genesis 1 reading does so masterfully, the way I imagine it would sound coming from the mother (definitely the mother) of a family telling (not reading) Scripture stories to her children, but without any air of condescension.

  10. We’ve had larger crowds too, but I suspect it has to do with what seems to be non-stop coverage of both papal events, the resignation and the election, a lot of which was quite positive. Just remember, after 9/11 all churches and houses of worship saw an increase in attendance, but it was short lived. Also remember the parable of the sower and the seed that fell on various ground.

    1. @Fr. Allan J. McDonald – comment #12:
      Before the parable of the seed which fell on a variety of surfaces was turned into an allegory, its original impulse was something like ‘If at first you don’t succeed….’ So yes, always worth remembering, but not in order to pour cold water as you try to do. Rather to take heart from such humble beginnings as those we have observed from Francis since March 13, even if they are met by opposition and obloquy.

      Gaudia paschalia!

  11. I was able to make it to the Good Friday liturgy at my parish this year. Attendance was up from last year, according to several people, although I don’t know if that was due to Pope Francis or to the presence of one of the auxiliary bishops (who also gave the meditation on the Seven Last Words beforehand). The bishop’s homily started out by talking about Pope Francis’ washing of feet at the juvenile prison the night before and how Pope Francis’ actions over the past few weeks have been a homily of humility, sacrifice, and love. Which was a theme he repeated. It was also a short homily, like Pope Francis!

    (No idea what the archbishop might have said. The auxiliaries date from before him.)

  12. In our parish also (Northern California); ran out of worship aides for Holy Thursday, overflow crowd for Good Friday. People are talking enthusiastically about the example of Pope Francis.

  13. Where would all nine readings at the Vigil be done? Just finished at our parish, St. Maximilian Kolbe in Cincinnati. We did 7 last year (having spent the last few years slowly working up from 5), and figured it was time to just go for it, not having a “grave pastoral reason” not to (or whatever language the missal now uses…)

    With a large crowd of 600-700, 3 neophytes, 4 newly-received, we were done before Midnight…actually just before…kind of cool.

    I can’t wait to talk to our Worship Comm and others to see if it felt long, or right…too soon for me to tell.

    I get the Holy Father’s idea about simplifying and shortening in the name of evangelization…however, most people coming to the Easter Vigil aren’t checking their watch (much less at the Vatican!?!)

    Anyway…just some late night musings from a tired liturgist/musician…back for the 8a soon enough!

    Victimae paschali laudes, Alleluia!

  14. While I join in the general acclaim over our new holy father’s pastoral concern for the poor, I cannot see the connection with his
    ‘trimming down’ of liturgy. It is, I think, unfortunate for us all that we can’t have Benedict and Francis all rolled into one. The one is no more a pope than the other was. It is, also, unfortunate that so many seem to draw a false dichotomy between pastoral concerns (for their own in-a-hurry selves) and the resplendence that should characterise the Church’s worship. The one does not exclude the other. It is sad that the papal vigil did not include all the readings because it was thought by ‘someone’ that they take too long. This is a demeaning commetary on ‘the people.’ It is, as well, alienating for some of us who attend liturgy expecting it to be complete and reflective of the splendour of God. Any less is NOT complimentary to God or to us.

    1. @M. Jackson Osborn – comment #20:

      It is sad that the papal vigil did not include all the readings because it was thought by ‘someone’ that they take too long. This is a demeaning commetary on ‘the people.’

      It could, though, be a very considerate gesture towards an ageing presider…

  15. I’m pretty sure they haven’t done all the readings at the Vatican in a long, long time.

  16. My parish in New York generally does a mixed English/Spanish liturgy for ‘unique’ masses like the Easter Vigil (how on earth would you manage two?). Typically four OT readings (Genesis, Abraham, Exodus, Ezekiel) in English plus the Epistle in Spanish. The pastor preaches in English and then summarizes in Spanish. Works out just fine.

    However, I’m out of town this week and had to go to the local parish, which did all the readings. I have to say, I did start to shift in my seat around #6. And I love the vigil! But I think if you’re going to do them all, not only the readings, but the psalms, have to be done very well, and with a view to keeping people awake. That means you need lively settings and either enough really good singers to spread them out, or the courage to commit to a single singer if that’s what you’ve really got. In most parishes I’d assume this would be more of a problem than finding good lectors.

  17. Where would all nine readings be done?

    I prefer the Byzantine hour long Vespers service to the 20-30 minute Rome Vespers, and their 90 minute to 2 hour Divine Liturgy to the not more than sixty minutes Roman Mass. However I am with the Pope in thinking critically about services that exceed two hours (i.e. less may be more).

    Last nights 3 hour Easter Vigil will likely be my last. Part of problem is that we are forbidden to begin before 9pm when it is really dark, and therefore we end at midnight. I prefer beginning the Lighting of the Paschal Candle shortly after sunset (which occurred at about 7:50 pm) so I would have begun the service at 8pm. It is a vesperal lamp lighting service not a middle of the night service.

    Actually they only had 4 OT readings. They also had five baptisms. Individual baptisms take time (and actually should take time). Part of the trade off of increased baptisms should be less OT readings. So have all nine readings when there are no baptisms. I would also prefer that over the years we get the full cycle of readings.

    In this large parish the service was lengthened by those seeking full communion with the Church, About a dozen were individually introduced and recited their professional of faith. One of the nice parts of their introduction is that the date and place of their baptisms were given. Many of these candidates are coming into communion for various reasons e.g. because of they are married to a Catholic or because they are engaged to a Catholic. I would like to have heard more about the gifts they are bringing into the Church and celebrated in the confirmation. The actual confirmation seemed to a relatively routine going to down the line while the choir (but not the people) sang a hymn. Seemed like an after thought rather than a high point.

    We should do these receptions individually at Sunday Masses during Paschal time, in the same manner as many parishes are now doing baptisms of infants. It would give people much more individualized attention and add only a little time to the service..

    People have so emphasized the importance of the Easter Vigil and loaded it down with so many things that they have priced it out of peoples’ time budget. This large parish is having double Masses (church and annex) this morning, yet this long Easter Vigil service was very sparsely attended, less people than the least attended Sunday Mass on the least attended Sundays of the year!!! Less might indeed be more in this case.

    1. @Jack Rakosky – comment #28:

      Vigils need to keep Vigil. The Vigil that I played for last night (helping out a parish 56 miles away) took two-and-a-half hours, and that was with only 4 OT readings, no baptisms and two receptions into full communion. With all 7 readings and baptisms as well, it would have lasted well over 3 hours.

      I have no problem with extended vigils, (lasting all night, if necessary) if the people are engaged. That is the crucial thing.

      It has been noticeable this year how boring the Vatican Triduum liturgies are, not least in the area of music. Boring liturgies need to be shorter, not longer! But those that are not boring can last as long as they need.

  18. A few minutes ago the NPR Sunday news cast led with the Pope who is “continuing his program of shorter services and sharper messages”

    Yes this Pope is on to the way to communicating by word and deed in this modern age. Less can be more, especially when it gets people’s attention.

  19. No problem with simple vestments that have some religious symbols. Can’t stand plain bed sheets thrown over the celebrant/”presider”. Don’t care much for the Pope’s choice of vestments for Easter Mass. Where’s the cross on his main vestment? Simple is OK, but devoid of any religious symbols is for the 2nd Street Baptist Church.

  20. We have used all the readings and celebrated many baptisms during the Vigil for many years now. We have a church that is very dark by 8:15pm so that’s when we start. The Easter Fire fills the church with its light. I think next year we will look at telling the story of our salvation without including all nine readings, but without cutting out any of the substance. We use a narrator who can include some of the material. This is our version of the commentator which we never otherwise use. The Pope is 76. He ought not to be the victim of liturgical solemnity. I am sure one of the reasons that Pope Benedict wore out was because of all those celebrations. No one should expect an old man to do all that. I’m going on 72 and I’m looking for ways to cut back. I will assure you we will not indulge in any cheap shortcuts. Our sunday Masses are 70-75 minutes and will likely remain that way. But a three hour Vigil is a bit much–to say the least. These rites were devised when few people were expected to be either present or paying close attention.

  21. These rites were devised when few people were expected to be either present or paying close attention.

    Weren’t they revised so that more people would attend and participate?

  22. RCIA was never a part of the Saturday Vigil when I was an altar boy. I recall it coming about around 1982-85. It appeared to me to be used as a liberal propaganda tool to showcase “all of the conversions”. Even though there never were that many. RCIA should not be mixed with a liturgy that is already 1hr &45 min long. Keep all Bible readings and allow the families that have converts to enjoy their own separate ceremony. Problem solved. You’ll have no need to short change integral parts of Mass.

    1. @Michael Alexenko – comment #33:

      The baptism of catechumens at the Vigil is an ancient tradition, not a “liberal propaganda tool to showcase ‘all of the conversions'”.

      We ran roughly 2 hrs and 45 minutes last night from the lighting of the fire until the “Thanks be to God, alleluia, alleluia” was chanted, with four OT readings, a baptism and confirmation and a not insubstantial homily. The time flew.

      Certainly liturgy should not tax the strength of the community, but up to 3 hours does not seem to challenge most people at either movies or a sport arena. And this one vigil a year we keep as a whole Church seems important enough to retain the character of a vigil. A long wait.

  23. I pity Michael for stating such a thing about the RCIA. It is revitalizing the parishes that embrace it. We filled our Cathedral three times over this year for the Rite of Election. The very notion of private initiation is an oxymoron. The length of ceremonies is not the issue, but how we celebrate them.

  24. Re: claire matheiu’s comment at #36.
    It was my privilege to preside throughout the Triduum with the Poor Clare sisters at their monastery in Bloomington, MN. Approximately 40 other people came to celebrate with the sisters. Our Vigil began at 8:00 PM and concluded at 11:30 PM. The sisters so value the vigil that after the kindling of the fire, preparation and lighting of the paschal candle, and chanting of the Exsultet, we began a pattern in which lights were up for the proclamation of each of the seven OT readings, the singing of the psalm or canticle, and chanting of the collect, followed by the lowering of the lights for five minutes or so of silent meditation. This was all held in the equivalent of the community’s chapter room and people felt free to enter and leave the space during the vigil as they needed. We then processed through the monastery to the chapel for the singing of the Gloria and the rest of the Easter Mass. As you might expect in a monastic setting, there were no baptisms, but we still celebrated the alternative water rites. I simply wanted to underline Ms Mathieu’s comment that a community that dedicates itself to prayer really does know how to keep the Vigil well. It seems to me quite wonderful that we have such flexible rites for the Easter Vigil that allow us to take into account the genuine patterns and possibilities for diverse communities.

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