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It Begins

I write this at 8 a.m. local time on Tuesday, March 12, 2013.  That means the cardinals have celebrated the Mass that opens the conclave and are now in the process of moving into the locked conclave.

In today’s first reading, Ezekiel tells of his vision of the restoration of the temple.  He writes in the time of the Exile but in the vision the temple has been rebuilt.  He sees the waters flowing out from the temple.  Normally, as we get farther away from the source of something, its effects get smaller.  Think of dropping a stone in the water.  The waves are strongest at the point where the stone enters the water and decrease as they move away.  In Ezekiel’s vision, the waters deepen as they get farther away.  He also speaks of how much life grows from the waters.  The water is living water.

When we speak of living water, we think of the Holy Spirit.  When we think of the temple in Ezekiel’s vision, we should think not just of physical temple building or church building today.  Our Church is much more than just buildings.

Our Catholic Church today has existed for 2,000 years formed from the blood and water that flowed from Jesus’ side on the Cross.  There is continuity in those 2,000 years.  Documents from the Second Century show that the structure of our Mass today is largely the same as it was in the early church.  We also realize, having started to use new translations for Mass just fifteen months ago, the words of Mass have changed in 2,000 years ago.

Our theology has not changed but our understanding of what it means to be Catholic and live according to Jesus’ commands has developed as the world develops.  Perhaps the most evident place of this development is in areas around technology and medical science.  We face decisions today that could not have been fathomed 2,000 years ago.

Much has happened in 2,000 years and the Church has survived it all.  There have been some great popes and there have been times of great difficulty in the Church.  Ultimately, the Church endures, not because of human beings, because it is God’s Church and is guided by the Holy Spirit.

It is the same Spirit that we pray comes upon the cardinals in the conclave to elect the person God is calling to be Pope.  Last night, as I watched the news, they were talking about how there is no clear front-runner to be the next pope.  I think that is a good thing.  I pray that every one of the cardinals enter the conclave with completely open mind and heart so that the Holy Spirit may guide them in selecting the next pope.  Will you join me in this pray?


Fr. Jeff

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