Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Day 3 - Ad Limina Visit

December 11, 2019 
Wednesday, Feast of St. Damasus, Pope

Greetings on this day 3 of the official “Ad Limina” Visit, and another beautiful December day in Rome. The sky is blue, the air is crisp, the city is festively decorated for Christmas, and the pace of  the traffic and the pedestrians is bustling. Today had a slower pace to its beginning with a more

leisurely time for breakfast, and our departure for our meetings from the NAC not until 9:00 a.m. While there were several Dicastery meetings scheduled today, our Region had to divide up since many of them overlapped in scheduled times. The two in which I participated were with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue and the Causes for Saints.                                                                                
The first meeting with the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue focused our attention on the role of the Church—-universally, nationally, locally, and parochial—-to foster dialogue with other religious leaders. “Dialogue” is a concept that seems to be becoming more alien to today’s society that focuses less on listening and more on talking. “Dialogue”, as Pope St. Paul VI was fond of saying, “means even before speaking, we must listen.” When we listen to another person, we are much more able to understand him/her, and not allow prejudices or stereotypes to form our opinions. Dialogue is not about watering down my own religious beliefs, nor trying to convert others to my religious beliefs, but to have a mutual understanding, leading to a greater respect, for what each of us believes. As Pope Francis reminds us often, “humanity is wounded and the Church must offer her ministry of healing to help heal the wounds of misunderstanding.” It was a very helpful meeting.                                                            

The second meeting was at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. This is the Congregation that investigates thoroughly the life of any person that is being promoted for the cause of canonization. This has been the practice of the Church from the earliest ages; no one can be declared to be a Saint without a rigorous and thorough examination, and the fulfillment of all the multiple requirements are met. I was very surprised to learn that in the two Regions attending this meeting (Region VII Bishops joined us Bishops from Region VI), that is in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, there are 11 Causes under consideration currently; 3 of those are in our Province of Region VI. Of course, while only a very few—-those who have lived a truly exemplary and “saintly” life—-in this world will become canonized, ALL of us are still called to become “saints” with a little “s”; we are all called to live lives of holiness, and even if it takes a lifetime, to conform our lives to Christ’s.

During some free time in the early afternoon, I went with a couple of my brother bishops to do some exploring throughout other parts of the City. We returned to NAC just in time to board the bus at 3:00 which took us to celebrate Holy Mass at the 3rd major Basilica, St. Paul Outside the Walls.
This is truly a magnificent structure, honoring a truly magnificent man—-St. Paul. While he was not one of the Twelve Apostles, he is considered by the Church to be “the Apostle to the Gentiles”, and it is to his tomb and to St. Peter’s Tomb primarily that all Bishops are to celebrate Mass, pray, and recommit ourselves to serve God’s People in the spirit of these two greatest of the Apostles, Peter and Paul. We had a beautiful Mass, and after the Mass, all the Bishops were led to the Tomb of St. Paul, in the crypt of the Basilica, and had time to pray together, and quiet time to pray silently. At St. Paul’s Tomb, one is also able to pray before the very chains which had bound St. Paul during one of his many times in prison. It was a truly moving and grace-filled time for me, and for us all. Please know that I am remembering all the priests, deacons, religious, lay leaders, and lay faithful of our Diocese, and all my dear family and friends, at each of these holy places.

Technically, this visit to the Tomb of St. Paul, combined with Monday’s visit to the Tomb of Peter, and my/our meeting with the Successor of Peter, Pope Francis, yesterday essentially fulfills the requirements of the official “Ad Limina Visit”. However, it’s very nice to look forward to two more 
more days in this beautiful city.

On the bus trip back to the NAC, night had fallen over the city, which gives it a whole different and wonderful character.  May God’s blessings of Peace be upon you as we look forward to the joys that tomorrow will bring.

                                                 Faithfully yours in Christ,
                                                 +Bishop Paul J. Bradley
                                                 Bishop of Kalamazoo

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