I am writing to you this week from Rome! As I write you this, I have just returned from concelebrating a private Mass with our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his chapel at the Domus Sanctae Marthae (“St. Martha’s House”), where the Pope has decided to live for the time being.
The Eucharist we celebrated was very special for me because we were celebrating the Annunciation and I was ordained a Bishop in Denver on the Solemnity of the Annunciation in 2001.
During the Mass I was praying for Pope Francis and for the Church. I was also thanking God for all his graces and blessings in my life — including each one of you. You have all been in my prayers in a special way during this pilgrimage to Rome.
Two days before my Mass with the Pope, on April 6, I marked the anniversary of my appointment as Archbishop of Los Angeles. So in this Mass, I was also thanking God for all the graces that I have received in these three years — and especially the chance to serve you.
The family of God here in Los Angeles is very special to me. Your witness to the faith in your ministries and in your daily lives gives me strength and hope every day. Thank you for your prayers, your support and your love.
I had the opportunity to talk to Pope Francis about our local Church. It is so great to be able to speak to the Pope in Spanish, which we share as our native language!
I told our Holy Father that all the faithful of Los Angeles love him and that we are praying for him and his ministry and that he has our loyalty. He told me that he is grateful for our prayers — and he asked us for more prayers!
I am here in Rome as the episcopal moderator of the Catholic Association of Latino Leaders (C.A.L.L.), which is headquartered here in Los Angeles. We are making a pilgrimage to Rome for this Year of Faith to study more deeply the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
We also had the blessing of meeting the Holy Father as a group. He offered us warm words of encouragement for C.A.L.L.’s mission. We came away even more convinced that now is the time for Latinos to love and live their faith more fully and exercise greater responsibility in the Church and in society.
This is such a great time to be Catholic! We are in a beautiful new moment of grace for the Church!
God in his love always gives us the Pope we need for our times. Pope Francis is the face of our hope for the new evangelization — especially in the Americas. And he is telling us — not only in words but also in so many pastoral gestures — that our new evangelization must be expressed in works of humility and service.
In his homily for the Mass we celebrated for the Annunciation, Pope Francis talked about humility as a path of holiness.
He pointed to the example of Mary, St. Joseph and Jesus who traveled “the road of humility” to Bethlehem. Even though Mary “did not understand well” what God was asking of her, she humbled herself and entrusted “her soul to the will of God,” he said. St. Joseph also “lowered himself” to take on the “great responsibility” of his bride who was with child. “So it is always with God’s love, that, in order to reach us, takes the way of humility,” Pope Francis told us.
Our Holy Father reminded us that humility is the foundation of our Christian vocation.
As Christians, we must follow the humble way that Jesus walked, the way of the Cross.
“One can take no other road,” the Pope told us. “If I do not lower myself, if you do not lower yourself, you are not a Christian.”
So let us pray hard for our new Pope this week. He is asking for our prayers! And let’s pray for one another and for our great Church of Los Angeles.
May we renew ourselves in the humility of the Cross — the humility of a love that comes in service to God and to our brothers and sisters, especially to those who are most in need.
And with our new Pope Francis, let us pray: “Let us gaze upon Mary, let us look to Joseph, and let us ask the grace of humility. But, the humility which is the path whereby charity surely goes. When Paul tells us: ‘think that others are better than you,’ it is sometimes difficult to think so. But, Paul is thinking of this mystery, of this way, for he knew in the profoundest part of his heart that love only travels on this path of humility.”