Deacons of the Scots College, Matthew Carlin & Jamie McMorrin, both recently served as Deacons at the Jubilee Mass for the Roman Curia, celebrated on the Feast of the Chair of St. Peter. Jamie, from the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh reflects on his day…
One of the many privileges of being formed for the priesthood in the city of Rome is to spend so many years in relatively close proximity to the Holy Father. I entered the seminary, together with my year-mate, Matthew Carlin, during the Pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and we had the great privilege of being his altar servers on several occasions. We were both present in St Peter’s Square at the election of his successor, Pope Francis, and on Monday we were honoured to join our friends from the English College to serve him as deacons on the Feast of the Chair of St Peter.
This feast-day had been chosen as the Jubilee of the Roman Curia and was an opportunity for those who collaborate with the Pope in the day-to-day work of the Vatican to join the successor of St Peter in the celebration of Mass at the tomb of the Apostle. As the Master of Ceremonies explained, it was for them, and for us, an opportunity to deepen their love for the Pope and to re-commit themselves to his service, for the good of the Church.
For Matthew and I, it was also an occasion of ‘priestly formation’: in his homily, the Pope encouraged those called to be pastors in the Church to follow the example of St Peter in «rediscovering the beauty of confessing faith in Jesus Christ» and allowing the “face of God the Good Shepherd [to] enlighten us, purify us, transform us”. A good priest, he told us, must be “a generous soul” marked, above all, by “loyalty to the heart of of Christ”, who, like the Lord, will “go in search of the lost sheep, lead back the strayed, bind up the wounded and cure the sick”. Needless to say, his Pontificate has been a lived example of such a pastoral vision.
However, the biggest lesson and the most deeply-engraved memory which I will take away from the experience of Monday was the careful, recollected prayerfulness with which the Holy Father celebrated Mass: the self-effacing lack of ‘showmanship’, the careful deliberateness over every gesture and the almost childlike piety with which he greeted Our Blessed Lady at the end of the Mass. Most especially, it was clear that at the moment of consecration, gazing at the Blessed Sacrament, he is conscious of being, at that moment above all, “face-to-face with God the Good Shepherd.”
It is that prayerful encounter with the Lord at Mass which then allows him to focus his attention, with the same loving care, on whoever he meets, as I experienced for myself when, a few minutes later, he offered me the kiss of peace, looking directly into my eyes and saying “Pax tecum, peace be with you”. The memory of that day, and in particular of that moment, will surely remain with me for the rest of my life as a lesson, encouragement and an inspiration. Thanks be to God!