Pope Francis Speaks to Cardinals – and the Altar Candles Move Again

Pope Francis presided over Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica on Sunday, one day after 19 bishops were added to the college of cardinals. Here is an excerpt from his homily.

Dear brother Cardinals, the Lord Jesus and mother Church ask us to witness with greater zeal and ardor to these ways of being holy. It is exactly in this greater self-gift, freely offered, that the holiness of a Cardinal consists. We love, therefore, those who are hostile to us; we bless those who speak ill of us; we greet with a smile those who may not deserve it. We do not aim to assert ourselves; we oppose arrogance with meekness; we forget the humiliations that we have endured. May we always allow ourselves to be guided by the Spirit of Christ, who sacrificed himself on the Cross so that we could be “channels” through which his charity might flow. This is the attitude of a Cardinal, this is how he acts. A Cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court. May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favoritism and preferences. May our language be that of the Gospel: “yes when we mean yes; no when we mean no”; may our attitudes be those of the Beatitudes, and our way be that of holiness.

The Holy Spirit also speaks to us today through the words of Saint Paul: “You are God’s temple … God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are” (1 Cor 3:16-17). In this temple, which we are, an existential liturgy is being celebrated: that of goodness, forgiveness, service; in a word, the liturgy of love. This temple of ours is defiled if we neglect our duties towards our neighbor. Whenever the least of our brothers and sisters finds a place in our hearts, it is God himself who finds a place there. When that brother or sister is shut out, it is God himself who is not being welcomed. A heart without love is like a deconsecrated church, a building withdrawn from God’s service and given over to another use.

Dear brother Cardinals, may we remain united in Christ and among ourselves! I ask you to remain close to me, with your prayers, your advice and your help. And I ask all of you, bishops, priests, deacons, consecrated men and women, and laity, together to implore the Holy Spirit, that the College of Cardinals may always be ever more fervent in pastoral charity and filled with holiness, in order to serve the Gospel and to help the Church radiate Christ’s love in our world.

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An astute Pray Tell reader writes in with an interesting detail on the altar candles:

I just managed to catch the end of the Pope’s Sunday Mass. Someone has moved the central candlestick (the one that says “I have jurisdiction here”) to the side, leaving what appears to be a much smaller-than-before crucifix alone in the middle, with three candles grouped in one corner, and four in the other . . . 

The reader wonders what these people think about the change. We all can wonder what happened to the “jurisdiction candle” on the Vatican basilica altar today.

19 comments

  1. I saw that too! And just commented on it in another thread!

    The candles were definitely smaller than before, as was the crucifix.

    As I’ve said before, somebody should grab Msgr. Guido Marini, and ask him about these VERY IMPORTANT issues!

    (In truth though, I suspect he has already been contacted by many for an interview, but that he declined, in which case, kudos to him for his discretion.)

    ETA: The Pope’s homilies — both today and yesterday at the Consistory — were wonderful. On the one hand, it’s kind of sad (and shameful) that these things needed to be said to begin with, e.g., that the bishops, cardinals, pope are servants, not bosses/masters of God’s people, that cardinals must avoid gossiping and such. On the other, better late than never.

  2. “The reader wonders what these people think about the change. We all can wonder what happened to the ‘jurisdiction candle’ on the Vatican basilica altar today.”

    They’ll probably take great comfort in hearing this news:

    http://www.romancatholicarchive.com

    . . . and in seeing that photo of those three leading the charge!

    1. @Xavier Rindfleisch – comment #2:
      Xavier, they are in schism I believe, they apparently do not accept VII if you read on.

      But by God the guy on the right is Wally Cox from the old Hollywood Squares!

      And I thought he was dead but apparently ran off and joined these ranks!

  3. “A Cardinal enters the Church of Rome, not a royal court. May all of us avoid, and help others to avoid, habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences. May our language be that of the Gospel: “yes when we mean yes; no when we mean no”; may our attitudes be those of the Beatitudes, and our way be that of holiness.”
    ————————————————-
    A portent of things to come? An end to the cappa magna and all the other items of courtly finery ? Maybe the Big Benedictine Seven? Are the errant school boys to be sent to bed without dinner?

  4. As far as the candles and crucifix, slowly but surely things are beginning to return to normal. And poor Guido, he’s wearing a surplice mainly broadcloth and very little lace.

    Francis, he’s the “pope of hope”!

    1. @Dale Rodrigue – comment #5:

      “poor Guido”

      Actually I think he looks quite content, even without his beloved lace, and those two — the Pope and Msgr. Guido — seem to be getting along just fine, which I also think is great.

      @John Hibbard – comment #6:

      Yeah, the chair got replaced too. This change has been a long time coming though, since the Pope never seemed to like that red, throne-like chair.

      Anyway, in the grand scheme of things, these details (should) matter little, but it’s still fun to observe and speculate, which is not to be confused with mere gossiping! 😀

      1. @Elisabeth Ahn – comment #8:
        Hi Elizabeth,
        one of the very few times I disagree with you. Oftentimes actions do speak louder than words, even these small details especially at the Vatican. During B16’s heyday even though he didn’t say much about the RoTR every little change or gesture was seen as a reform of the reform. That is why it is so difficult to pin down exactly what the RoTR is except to look at the changes.
        Francis is moving slowly but by his examples we know that changes are occurring.

        Hello Msgr Bruce, I too love candles but I think it’s not the number of candles but rather the placement of those candles that is an issue. I too remember with fondness lighting candles except once when I mistakenly lit the tall candles on the “Tridentine Altar” that were decorated w/ tall Gladiolus flowers. Still remember those flowers “hissing”.

      2. @Dale R. Rodrigue – comment #12:

        “During B16′s heyday even though he didn’t say much about the RoTR every little change or gesture was seen as a reform of the reform.”

        Well, I thought then, as I do now, that was rather idiotic, which to me only seemed to illustrate the superficiality of the so-called Reform of the Reform agenda.

        Also coming from that vantage point, I thought the reference to the altar candles made in this post was a hilarious tongue-in-cheek response to all that candle-this, lace-that nonsense that’s been reverentially bandied about in the recent past, as if it had some profound and über important theological and/or liturgical meanings.

        Anyhow, no matter where one is coming from, on this:

        Francis is moving slowly but by his examples we know that changes are occurring.

        I doubt that anyone could disagree.

        @Brian Palmer – comment #13:

        LOL — or perhaps I should say, Ho Ho Ho — now it does the same to me too!

  5. The chair Pope Francis used also changed. It was white and less ornate. Pope Benedict used an ornate chair with red material.

  6. I wonder whether a description of the seventh candle as ‘the one that says “I have jurisdiction here”’ is appropriate.
    The seven candles that burn on the altar when a diocesan bishop celebrates are already prescribed in the Ordo Romanus Primus, which describes how the Bishop of Rome approaches the altar preceded by seven candles, which move aside for him to pass between them, four on the right and three on the left (the arrangement correctly adopted for the papal mass last Sunday). They represent the original seven diaconal districts of the city, and also echo the seven lampstands of the seven churches of Asia mentioned in Apocalypse 1. Apoc 2,1 calls Christ ‘he who walks among the seven lampstands’. At one time, to process behind seven candles and pass between them was a privilege of the Bishop of Rome, but after Vatican 2 it was extended to all diocesan bishops. It was a nice touch when Vincent Nichols entered Westminster Cathedral behind two candles to be installed as Archbishop, and left behind seven.
    So I prefer to understand the bishop’s seven candles as meaning ‘the whole local church is represented here’.
    On a practical level, this custom means that plenty of people have something to do at a major celebration. The children at my parish school love to greet the Archbishop in that way, and they know what the ceremony means.

  7. I find this post a bit of a disappointment. Pope Francis is speaking to his Cardinals on the subject of love, and caring for all who approach, regardless of one’s feelings towards them. But the reader’s question is a snipe at some other group’s response to new positions for the candles.

    How does this discussion, then, reflect the Pope’s exhortation that “[w]hen that brother or sister is shut out, it is God himself who is not being welcomed”?

  8. Also to be noted is that all receive communion standing now, including the deacons. Neither does it appear that any priests are refusing communion in the hand.

  9. I get the sneaking sense that many people on this blog make the mistake of thinking that just because Francis disagrees with Benedict’s ways of doing things with regard to liturgy that this means that Francis agrees with their conception of liturgy. I think he’s a lot closer to John Paul II than many people care to admit.

    1. @Stanislaus Kosala – comment #17:

      Speaking only for myself, I feel fairly confident in saying that both the Pope’s understanding of liturgy (as gleaned from his writings, speeches and homilies) and the way he goes about celebrating the liturgy (as seen at papal masses) are in perfect tune with mine. 😀

      I’m not familiar with Pope JPII’s liturgical style, so can’t really say much about that.

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