The morning of his inauguration as governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie (R-N.J.) attended Mass in Newark, New Jersey, “looking at it as an opportunity to begin the day in prayer.”
Spokesman for the Archdiocese of Newark Jim Goodness told CNA that there were “close to a thousand people” in the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, and that the atmosphere was filled with “reverence” and “happiness.” This is the first inauguration Mass that has taken place at the Cathedral Basilica in Newark.
Entering the sanctuary to a standing ovation, Mr. Christie sat with his family near the front. Later in the Mass his 16 year-old son Andrew ascended the pulpit to give the first reading, said Goodness.
Archbishop John Joseph Myers of the Newark Archdiocese “was his usual charming self,” according to Goodness, who said the prelate “gave an excellent homily” drawing from the Tuesday's Scripture readings regarding King Solomon and the Beatitudes.
Archbishop Myers first discussed the reading from the Book of Kings, saying, “We will prosper if we allow God’s wisdom to direct our lives and our decisions. We will prosper if we follow our consciences. Conscience is not some 'little voice' within that directs us. For our consciences to be authentic and honest, they must allow God’s wisdom to form them, allow God’s wisdom to direct us.”
“Otherwise,” cautioned the archbishop, “we are deceiving ourselves and allowing our desires to rule our consciences. If we allow desire to direct us rather than wisdom, we follow the example of our first parents who allowed the spirit of pride to lead them to taste the forbidden fruit. This can happen to anyone. It happened to Solomon in the course of his life.”
Speaking on the Gospel reading, which contained the Beatitudes, Archbishop Myers said “When Jesus speaks of 'the clean of heart,' he does not mean a narrow notion of the heart as merely a font of emotions disconnected from the intellect and the will. Rather, he is referring to the inner person, to the seat of our moral personality.”
“Is following the Beatitudes easy?” he asked. “No. Jesus knew that and his last blessing was 'Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' If we follow the teaching of the beatitudes, we will find that life is not always easy. The Beatitudes are a challenge. But as long as we trust in God and stand up for what is right, we can be assured that we too will be blessed.”
In his interview with CNA, Goodness also praised Mr. Christie and expressed the excitement felt within the Catholic community over his election.
“Catholics are in general very happy and proud of the fact that we have a Catholic as governor and someone who very clearly talks about his faith and lives his faith and holds his opinions according to his formation as a Catholic,” said Goodness.
The archdiocesan spokesman also described the incoming governor as a “dedicated and concerned individual who wants to do the right thing here in the state and wants to bring his talents and his ideas to help the people in the state which certainly needed it at this particular time.” New Jersey is currently faced with severe economic problems, as well as housing and employment needs.
Speaking on the recent New Jersey Senate vote against same-sex “marriage,” Goodness reiterated that Mr. Christie is opposed to same-sex “marriage” and that “throughout the last few years the bishops in the state have been reaffirming the Church's teaching to the people of the state.”
“That, we hope, is an issue that is behind us,” said Goodness.
Given the then-impending inauguration of Mr. Christie and Ms. Kim Guadagno, Archbishop Myers offered his prayers, saying, “Today we pray for Governor Chris Christie, Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, the members of the new administration of the State of New Jersey, we pray for all state, county, and municipal officials. We pray that you will be blessed with wisdom, even more we pray that you will be blessed with the wisdom of Solomon – you will need it.”