Hello from Rome! I am finishing up a grace-filled week in Rome where I was able to spend time with some good friends and a group from Regent’s University. We visited many sights which helped us strengthen our faith in God’s mercy and goodness. Was also able to stay at our LC house and renew many friendships with the holy men who have left all to follow Christ through the thick and thin….a very humbling and beautiful experience. For the feast of Christ the King I was also able to say hello to many of the Regnum Christi consecrated men and women who serve our Lord so well as “undercover special forces.”
The highlight of the week was this morning when I was unexpectedly blessed to concelebrate Mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter’s square. It was the Feast of Christ the King, the closing of the Church’s year of faith, and the first time that St. Peter’s bones were brought out for public view. I held each one of you and your families in my heart as I offered the Mass with the Pope. Below is a beautiful part of the Pope’s homily.
“Christ is the centre of the history of humanity and also the centre of the history of every individual. To him we can bring the joys and the hopes, the sorrows and troubles which are part of our lives. When Jesus is the centre, light shines even amid the darkest times of our lives; he gives us hope, as he does to the good thief in today’s Gospel.”
Whereas all the others treat Jesus with disdain – “If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, save yourself by coming down from the cross!” – the thief who went astray in his life but now repents, clings to the crucified Jesus and begs him: “Remember me, when you come into your kingdom” (Lk 23:42). Jesus promises him: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (v.43), in his kingdom. Jesus speaks only a word of forgiveness, not of condemnation; whenever anyone finds the courage to ask for this forgiveness, the Lord does not let such a petition go unheard. Today we can all think of our own history, our own journey. Each of us has his or her own history: we think of our mistakes, our sins, our good times and our bleak times. We would do well, each one of us, on this day, to think about our own personal history, to look at Jesus and to keep telling him, sincerely and quietly: “Remember me, Lord, now that you are in your kingdom! Jesus, remember me, because I want to be good, but I just don’t have the strength: I am a sinner, I am a sinner. But remember me, Jesus! You can remember me because you are at the centre, you are truly in your kingdom!” How beautiful this is! Let us all do this today, each one of us in his or her own heart, again and again. “Remember me, Lord, you who are at the centre, you who are in your kingdom.
“Jesus’ promise to the good thief gives us great hope: it tells us that God’s grace is always greater than the prayer which sought it. The Lord always grants more, he is so generous, he always gives more than what he has been asked: you ask him to remember you, and he brings you into his kingdom! Let us go forward together on this road!”