At the close of our Christmas Mass in the Night, we pause before the Infant King. The sisters have quite a set-up for Baby Jesus under the Altar. I really like it and will enjoy again this year this marvelous touch to Christmastide in the chapel of the Nunciature.
With all the pretty stuff out there at this wonderful time, I was nonetheless troubled by the usual statistical notice from the various news services here regarding Switzerland, of just how few Swiss make it to church on Christmas. No doubt some journalists just throw it out there as a challenge: to justify their own non-attendance, because of their own doubts, out of anger or bewilderment, perhaps sorrow. In any case, there it is, supposedly how many folk don't even stand before the Throne of the Infant King on His Birthday...
These days I am reading a collection newly translated into English of orations by St. Charles Borromeo. I am thoroughly convinced that the author of the book has it right in saying that St. Charles was no great orator, but plugged on as best he could out of his conviction that it was a bishop's and a priest's primary duty to feed God's flock by his preaching. This convinces me all the more of the grace of office: that Catholic preaching must be reserved to bishops and priests, if it is to bear fruit among the flock unto salvation. It also confirms my belief that if I am not a holy man, an ascetic, a man on fire with Divine Love, then I really am a clanging cymbal or a thumping gong.
Why are the pews empty? Dear journalists! Don't blame the Lord of Life! Don't blame the One Who came before the dawn to save us from our sins! Blame the foolish shepherds! Blame me!
St. Charles lived intensely the reform message of the great Council of Trent, which his uncle the pope had entrusted to him to bring to a successful conclusion. Charles was consumed by his prayer and his personal penance. Milan was thrice blessed to have him as a bishop and from that local church light went forth for the sake of the Catholic Reform.
Being an Apostolic Nuncio, a Papal Representative, I haven't been called to take on a local church and its presbyterate, leading God's People, by leading His Priests on to conform to the life of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Rather, I need to pray harder and make of my life an oblation for the sake of those who have that call. That is the sense of a nuncio's call to share in the Petrine Ministry for the sake of strengthening the brethren.
Filling the pews would be the mark that prayer has returned to our homes, that the Infant King has been enthroned in our hearts. It doesn't happen by osmosis, but by sending out zealous preachers, confessors, presbyters. It happens when we lay down our lives for the sheep.
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! May those who love you prosper!
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI