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Mass with Pope Francis

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Fr Michael Paul Gallagher wrote warmly of the papal Mass whih he concelebrated in the Gesu: “I have just come back from Mass with the Pope at the Gesù Church, concelebrated by about 350 Jesuits. It was a truly joyful occasion, in a simple style. In fact the Pope entered the church in procession about 10 minutes earlier than the 9 am starting point.

For the procession they had chosen to accompany him a large number of Jesuit deacons from many countries, and the youngest of the recently ordained priests. During his homily I was straight in front of him, about 15 feet away, and could relish his way of underlining certain points and also when he departed from his text with a smile to make some additional comment (for example, about not preaching the Gospel brandishing a stick but with sweetness).

More than once he used the expression “we Jesuits”. The call was to be restless men, bold in apostolic creativity, but above all emptied of self in order to recognise the God of surprises. His focus was on St Peter Faber and he spoke of him with great affection, as full of great desires, as a traveller in mission to the frontiers, a man of dialogue, rooted always in the heart of Christ. One of the Pope’s asides about Faber was that they said he was born never to be at home but to be on the road. In fact the fine new statue of the Saint, that the Pope consecrated at the end of Mass with incense, shows him on the move, with a staff in hand and being guided by an angel.

At the end of the Mass Pope Francis greeted each Jesuit individually(for a few seconds) in the sacristy, giving each a big smile (and a rosary). This was not expected in advance and must have added at least 40 minutes to the Mass which lasted about 75 minutes. All in all it was an occasion of real consolation and of companionship in the Lord. The Pope himself seemed relaxed, recollected and enjoyably at home with this moment of history. Thank God for such an occasion of confirmation and of hope.