|Fr Aaron Spinelli preaching at the Mass 'For the gift of a new Pontiff'|
Ann Lardeur reports:
"Only the Holy Spirit knew that when our priests chose Tuesday 12th March to concelebrate Mass at The Sacred Heart Church, it would be the day the Cardinals were concelebrating Mass in Rome prior to going into conclave. Frs. Kieran Gardner, John Olliver and Aaron Spinelli were joined a large congregation drawn from all our churches; Sacred Heart, Caterham, All Saints, Oxted, St. Ambrose, Warlingham, Holy Family, Reigate, St. Joseph's, Redhill , and St. Teresa's Merstham.
The Mass offered was "For the gift of a new Pontiff". In the bidding prayers, led by Liz Wood, we prayed not only that the Holy Spirit would guide those who were electing the next Chief Shepherd but also for Pope Emeritus, Benedict.
In his homily Fr. Aaron spoke of his time in Rome attending the English College. He had met Cardinal Ratzinger more than once, but a memorable one took place whilst buying cigarettes. The Cardinal was doing the same thing, and on hearing his name mentioned the Cardinal turned to Fr. Aaron. Fr. Aaron no longer smokes, but he could not vouch for Pope Benedict.
He told us the Mass for the Opening of the Conclave was an event not just for the world, but for the Diocese of Rome since the new pope would be their bishop. As a sign of this local aspect the people and priests of Rome are especially invited to this Mass. At the time of this Mass prior to the election of Pope Benedict XVI, elderly Italian ladies had tried to touch each of the Cardinals, so whoever was elected they could claim to have touched him!
Before the Dismissal Fr. Kieran gave interesting facts and figures about Papal Elections. The longest conclave held at Viterbo, north of Rome, ran for 33 months, beginning in 1268. Eventually the roof was torn off the building where they were staying and meals restricted to make them hurry up. Pope Gregory X was elected and in decreed in 1274 cardinals would only get one mean a day if a conclave took more than 3 days, and only bread, water, and wine if it went beyond 8.
The youngest pope to be elected was John XII elected in 955 aged 18. The oldest popes were Celestine III (1191) and Celestine V (1294) who were both nearly 85."
Please continue pray for both Benedict and Francis as they both begin new lives as retired Pope and new Pope.