13 September 2013

Pope Francis receives the Equestrian Order

This evening the Holy Father Pope Francis received some 3,500 Knights and Ladies of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in an audience the Paul VI Hall.  The Knights and Ladies have gathered in Rome for an international pilgrimage to pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, to make a public profession of the Creed, and to renew their fidelity to the Church and to the person of the Successor of Peter in this Year of Faith.

Following an conference given by His Excellency Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evanglization, His Eminence Edwin Cardinal O'Brien, Grand Master of the Order, addressed the Holy Father and present the Knights and Ladies to him.

His Holiness briefly addressed the members of the Order (the Italian text has been posted; I would work on a translation, but at the present moment I'm out of energy), hearkening back to the three words he proposed just after his election to the See of Peter: walking, building, and professing.

Relating the walking of the Knights and Ladies to this earthly pilgrimage, His Holiness brought together his three words, saying, "your journeying in order to build is born of [your] professing the faith ever more profoundly, it grows from ongoing efforts to nourish your spiritual life, from a lifelong Christian formation for an ever more authentic and coherent Christian life."

The Equestrian Order has, as one of its chief aims, the support, maintenance, and growth of the Church in the Holy Land by providing for all of the needs of the Patriarch of Jerusalem and, following a recent decision of the Order, throughout the Holy Land.  To this end, the Order funds the work of the Church, builds schools, and helps support Christians financially in their daily struggles.  The building done by the Order is, however, not only physical; each of the Knights and Ladies promise to pray daily for their brothers and sisters who live in the land where the Savior himself walked.

Pope Francis concluded his remarks by urging the Knights and Ladies to "believe in the redemptive power of the Cross and the Resurrection."  It is this belief, strengthened in these days of pilgrimage, that have led the members of the Order to devote themselves to the work of charity, conscious of what His Holiness Benedict XVI wrote in Porta Fidei: "Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt.  Faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path" (14).

The feel of the audience with Pope Francis was notably different than the audiences with Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a difference that may be attributed to the different personalities of the two Popes or to the make-up of those in the audience.  I need to ponder this a bit more in the day or so before putting more thoughts together.

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