The new archbishop of Bologna on the battle between good and evil

In the most significant move for the Italian Church to date, Pope Francis appointed new archbishop for the major sees of Palermo and Bologna yesterday. To the former he appointed Msgr. Corrado Lorefice of the clergy of the Diocese of Noto, and to the latter, Msgr. Matteo Maria Zuppi, auxiliary bishop of Rome. On 27 September of this year, the Feast of the Archangel Michael, Bishop Zuppi celebrated Mass at the Church of the Frisians in Rome, during which he gave a homily which could well serve to get an idea of the focus of the new archbishop of Bologna. Dealing with good and evil and not shirking away from the sometimes difficult imagery of the Book of Revelation, here is my translation of the text (which is a translation of a translation, as my source was the Dutch translation of the Italian original).

zuppi“We are here in a small church next to the great Basilica of Saint Peter, near the colonnade which wants to embrace everyone and everything. I hope you too feel that embrace, love and mercy of the mother who opens her arms, especially for those who are vulnerable, who suffered, carried away by the storm of life. Here, there are a few pews from the Second Vatican Council which taught us that the joy and hope, the sorrow and worries of the people of today, and especially those of the poor and those who suffers, are the joy and hope, the sorrow and concerns of Jesus’ disciples. And all this is human can also be found in their hearts. We often do not want to hear that voice. We are afraid and close ourselves off. We raise many walls, fences and borders. These entrap us as well. fences make you feel weak when you are strong, poor when you have enough. They make the other an enemy or a danger. The result of this is that we no longer feel sympathetic with people who lose everything while fleeing from wars that take everything away from us. From behind the closed fence we do not see the child that dies in the great sea: Aylan. When a child dies like that, that is an Apocalypse, because man is destroyed by the dragon that makes life inconsequential. We heard the great vision of Revelation. The Apostle John helps us not to run away from the many apocalypses, not for the evident like terrible wars, but neither for those of loneliness which makes you world collapse and makes you feel so small. We cause some apocalypses ourselves, because of indifference, arms trafficking, exploiting natural resources which we steal from our children.

We too must fight evil. The dragon that misleads with the logic of power and which, like consumerism, devours all hearts. St. Michael and his angels fight. Let us also go into combat. There is a lot that we can do.

Love is never inconsequential and razes walls. We must free the world from too much indifference and violence. If we do not love, we become accomplices of evil. And to fight evil, we must love. To do no evil is not enough, to be a witness, no matter how committed. Martyrs are like the Archangel Michael: they are no heroes, but people who love until the end. Monsignor Romero. The Dutch Father Frans, who stayed in Homs, in Syria, until his end, because he could not accept that a Muslim or Christian would starve to death. He fought. Evil killed him. But his light was not extinguished. In the darkness of Syria he is a star of hope. He helps everyone believe in humanity when the dragon makes men into beasts. His start shows that love is without limits and that the future starts with people like him. Father Frans is one of those who “have triumphed … by the blood of the Lamb and by the word to which they bore witness” (Rev. 12:11). When we fight evil, as the Gospel of Christ teaches us, meek and humble to all, we see and show how heaven is opened, and how the angels of God ascend and descend.

I was a stranger and I met an angel. He spoke to me gently and taught me a language I did not know. He made me feel as if I came home. I was naked and met an angel. He knelt by me because I could not get up from the gutter. He looked at me kindly and gave me a blanket to get warm. I was sick and met an angel. He was not afraid to take my hand, he kept coming back. He did not leave me alone when the storm of my sickness disrupted my entire life and I thought everything was over. I was starving and met an angel. He gave me to eat without making me feel like I owed him something. He treated me with respect, as if I was his father. I was in prison and met an angel. He was not ashamed for my sin. He treated me like a man. He like at me with confidence. He did not judge me. He smiled at me while knowing my guilt. We fight evil, like the Archangel Michael. We, and those who came after us, will, like the angels, see the light of heaven, the infinite love. In that intimate love for, the Gospel teaches us, we see heaven on earth, and earth becomes a piece of heaven.”

Photo credit: Friezenkerk

Fourteenth Station: Jesus is placed in the tomb

Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.

John 19:41-42

A deep silence surrounds Calvary. John, in his Gospel, tells us that at Calvary there was a garden containing an unused tomb. It was there that the disciples of Jesus laid his body.

That Jesus, whom they had only slowly come to recognize as God made man, is there, a corpse. In this unfamiliar solitude they are lost, not knowing what to do or how to act. They can only console, encourage and draw close to one another. Yet precisely there the faith of the disciples begins to deepen, as they remember all the things which Jesus said and did while in their midst, and which they had understood only in part.

There they begin to be Church, as they await the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit. With them is the mother of Jesus, Mary, whom her son had entrusted to John. They gather together with her and around her. And they wait. They wait for the Lord to appear.

We know that three days later that body rose again. Jesus thus lives for ever and accompanies us, personally, on our earthly pilgrimage, amid joys and tribulations.

Jesus, grant that we may love one another,
and to have you once more in our midst,
each day, as you yourself promised:
“Where two or three are gathered in my name,
I am there, in their midst”.

Thirteenth Station: Jesus is taken down from the cross and given to His mother

After this Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him leave. So he came and took away his body.

John 19:38

Mary sees her son die, the Son of God and her son too. She knows that he is innocent, but took upon himself the burden of our misery. The mother offers her son, the son offers his mother. To John and to us.

Jesus and Mary: here we see a family that on Calvary suffers as it experiences the ultimate separation. Death parts them, or at least it seems to part them: a mother and son united by an unfathomable bond both human and divine. Out of love they surrender it. Both abandon themselves to the will of God.

Into the chasm opened in Mary’s heart comes another son, one who represents the whole human race. Mary’s love for each of us is the prolongation of her love for Jesus. In Jesus’ disciples she will see his face. And she will live for them, to sustain them, to help them, to encourage them and to help them to acknowledge the love of God, so that they may turn in freedom to the Father.

What do they say to me, to us, to our families, this mother and son on Calvary? Each of us can only halt in amazement before this scene. We know instinctively that this mother and this son are giving an utterly unique gift. In them we find the ability to open our hearts and to expand our horizons to embrace the universe.

There, on Calvary,
at your side, Jesus, who died for us,
our families welcome the gift of God:
the gift of a love
which can open our arms to the infinite.

A look at Bishop-elect Hendriks’ coat of arms

The website of the Diocese of Haarlem-Amsterdam today published the coat of arms of its new auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Jan Hendriks, who will be consecrated on 10 December.

As is standard for a bishop’s coat of arms, it features the green gallero with six tassels on each side, the cross and the motto chosen by the new bishop. Specific details relevant to Msgr. Hendriks are contained in the shield. In the centre, in red on gold, we find the eagle, symbol of St. John the Evangelist, the patron saint of the new bishop, and the author of the motto underneath the shield. Top left we find a host surrounded by flames; a reference to Msgr. Hendriks’ devotion to the Eucharist, as well as to the Miracle of Amsterdam. It’s also a connection with Msgr. Hendriks’ predecessor, Bishop van Burgsteden, who belongs to the Congregation of the Blessed Sacrament.

In the lower right corner, in silver on azure, is the lily representing the Blessed Virgin. It is taken from the coat of arms of Bishop Jos Punt, the ordinary of Haarlem-Amsterdam, and indicates both the new bishop’s devotion to the Mother of God, but also his bond with Bishop Punt.

The other two fields, with the red crosses on white, containing three St. Andrew’s crosses, come from the coat of arms of the diocese.

Details of the consecration have also been released. Due to restoration works in the cathedral basilica of St. Bavo, it will take place in the parish church of Sts. Vitus and Willibrord in Hilversum, starting at 11. After the consecration Mass there will be a reception where guests may congratulate new auxiliary bishop and  extend their best wishes to Bishop van Burgsteden, who is retiring as auxiliary bishop. That reception will last until 15:30. The principal consecrator will be Bishop Punt, while Bishop van Burgsteden and Rotterdam’s Bishop Hans van den Hende will be co-consecrators.