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Archbishop Schnurr reflects on unworthiness at St. Peter’s tomb
By David Kerr
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr delivers his homily during Mass at the tomb of St. Peter on Feb. 1, 2012
Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr delivers his homily during Mass at the tomb of St. Peter on Feb. 1, 2012

.- Nobody is “worthy” of the call of Christ, and yet, Jesus still calls everybody to him, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr of Cincinnati said at the tomb of St. Peter on Feb. 1.

Archbishop Schnurr said he often hears young men who think they are called to the priesthood exclaim, “Archbishop, I’m not worthy of that!”

“But that’s the point isn’t it?” he said, “none of us is worthy to be considered an instrument of God shaping his Church, shaping his people, making them into the livings stones upon which the Church is built.”

Yet “in humility we accept that role,” especially since anything can be achieved by a person “filled with Christ and filled with confidence in faith.”

Archbishop Schnurr was joined by 16 other bishops from the Provinces of Detroit and Cincinnati at the start of their ad limina visit to Rome. The visits take their name from the Latin phrase “ad limina apostolorum” (to the threshold of the apostles), which indicates that one of the main purposes for the visits is to pray at the tombs of Sts. Peter and Paul.

Over the next six days the bishops will also meet with Pope Benedict and various Vatican departments to discuss the health of the Church in their dioceses.

As is traditional, the bishops began their visit with Mass at the tomb of St. Peter.

In his homily, Archbishop Schnurr drew inspiration from the numerous papal tombs surrounding the bishops in the crypt, which is situated below the high altar of St. Peter’s Basilica.

“Today as we celebrate Mass in this crypt we realize the call to faith, the faith upon which the Church is built,” he said, noting, “we are surrounded by the mortal remains of individuals who have surrendered their life for the faith and have built up the Church in significant ways.”

He said that many saintly Popes had managed to achieve great things despite their human frailties – including St. Peter.

“We know how his faith was tested and how, in fact, Peter did fail at times.

“But ultimately he triumphed by his martyrdom for the faith,” thanks to the grace he received from Christ, Archbishop Schnurr said.

The example of St. Peter and his successors should remind the bishops that they “are not the ones who are achieving things in our own churches,” he said. Instead, they are “instruments through which Christ is working.”

The bishops will spend their first day of their ad limina in meetings with the Congregations for Bishops, Clergy, and Institutes of Consecrated Life.

The bishops were also treated on the evening of Feb. 1 to a reception at the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See, hosted by Ambassador Miguel Díaz.


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