Within the walls of St. Peter’s Basilica, on Saturday August 27, Pope Francis presided over his eighth ordinary public consistory. 20 cardinals were created, including 16 electors, from four continents. In his homily, Francis returned to the image of the consuming fire and the embers, and invited the recipients of the cardinal’s bar to always pay attention to the little ones.
Through his homily, in front of 7,000 faithful, delegations and families, the Pope invited the 20 new cardinals to reflect on the double image of fire: first the fire which is the mighty flame of the Spirit, “God himself, like a consuming fire”then that of a thick fire, like the fire of the camp that Jesus kindled on the shore of Lake Galileo, “the thick fire is soft, hidden, but it lasts a long time and is used for cooking”.
With words reported from the Gospel of Luke,I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it was already kindledJesus invites us to follow him on the path of his mission. A mission that is actually a mission of fire, like Elijah’s, Francis explained, “for what he came to do and for the way he did it”.
The fire of the apostle Paul
To the cardinals, those in the Church who are chosen for a ministry of special service, just as Jesus gave the burning torch to the “to announce his apostolic courage, his zeal for the salvation of every person, excluding no one. He wants to make known to us his greatness, his infinite, unlimited, unconditional love, because in his heart the mercy of the Father burns.”
This powerful fire is what inhabited the apostle Paul, Francis continued, “It is also the fire of many missionaries who have experienced the difficult and sweet joy of evangelization, and whose life has become the gospel, because they are above all witnesses.”
The gentle thick fire
Then there is another fire, which in the embers, “The Lord also wants to make this known to us, so that like Him, with tenderness, with honesty, with closeness and tenderness, we can taste most of the presence of Jesus who lives among us.“This fire that burns in a special way in the prayer of worship, specified the Sovereign Pope,”when we are in silence near the Eucharist and when we taste the humble, wise, hidden presence of the Lord, like fire in the embers.” This presenceitself becomes food in our daily life.”
For François, this thick fire reminds Charles de Foucauld, for example, of his long solitude in the desert or in a non-Christian environment. It also makes you think “To those brothers who live in secular consecration, in the world, by feeding the gentle and lasting fire at work, in interpersonal relationships, in meetings of small fraternities; or else, as priests, in a persistent and generous ministry, in silence, among the people of the parish.”
Besides, isn’t it the same firewho daily warms the lives of so many Christian spouses?», this same fire in the lungs that the elders guarded.
An invitation to care for young children
Dear Brother Cardinals, the Bishop of Rome asks, “What does this double fire of Jesus say especially to me and to you?”before replying: “it reminds us that a person of apostolic zeal is moved by the fire of the Spirit to courageously care for things, big and small.“. This is the heart of the mission of the cardinals, the care of the big ones and especially the little ones.
Therefore, Francis reminded the bishops that they must always love the Church, “always with the same spiritual fire, to face the big questions, like taking care of the little ones; by meeting the great ones of this world, as the little ones, who are great before God.” Examples are cited of the Italian Cardinal Casaroli, Cardinal Secretary of State from 1979 to 1990 during the pontificate of John Paul II, who often visited prisoners, or Vietnamese Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, who took care of his jailer, recognized as honorable in May 2017. Two cardinals recorded in history for their attention to the little ones.
Finally, the Sovereign Pope concluded, the secret of God’s fire “Comes down from the sky, illuminates it from one end to the other and slowly prepares food for poor families, migrant people, or the homeless.“. Jesus, who wants to light this fire on the shore of our daily stories, “looked us in the eyes and he asked us: Can I trust you?
At the end of the homily, Francis asked for prayers for Cardinal Richard Kuuia Baawobr, Bishop of Wa in Ghana, who was unable to attend the ceremony due to hospitalization.
The cardinals then swore loyalty and gratitude to the holy apostles of the Roman Church, then as dictated by tradition, the Pope imposed the barrette and the cardinal’s ring on them and gave them a parish in Rome.
As of August 27, the College was composed of 226 cardinals, including 132 and 94 non-voters. The oldest, after the death of Cardinal Tomko, is Mgr Alexandre do Nascimento, Archbishop Emeritus of Luanda in Angola, who turned 97 on March 1.
Among the new cardinals, the French Mgr Jean-Marc Aveline, archbishop of Marseilles. Five French are now in the college of cardinals.
Meeting of the Cardinals
On August 29 and 30, the meeting of cardinals will take place on the new apostolic constitution. Predicate Evangeliumas announced by Pope Francis on May 29. The sessions will take place in the morning from 09:00 and in the afternoon from 16:00, after a short break for lunch.
Meetings for language groups on different aspects of the document are planned, as well as plenary debates. So far, 197 participants have been confirmed, including Cardinals, Eastern Patriarchs and Superiors of the Secretariat of State.
In the afternoon of Tuesday August 30, after the last work session, at 5:30 pm, the Holy Mass will be celebrated in the Basilica of San Pedro.