At his installation Mass in San Francisco, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone encouraged a renewal of the Church in the footsteps of St. Francis of Assisi, the city's patron.
“It was St. Francis' personal holiness which led the renewal of the Church,” he underscored.
The new archbishop was the main celebrant at a Mass was said the afternoon of Oct. 4 at the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption. He was joined by Archbishop Carlo Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the U.S., and Archbishops John Quinn and George Niederauer, former heads of the archdiocese.
Archbishop Cordileone began his homily by remembering the words of Christ, “Francis, rebuild my house,” spoken to the 13th century Italian saint from the cross inside Assisi's San Damiano church.
The archbishop noted that Francis rebuilt the dilapidated structure, faithful to the Lord's command. “He didn't make a new church, he repaired the old one. He built upon it.”
Francis' mission was one of not only material, but spiritual renewal of the Church, as his was a time of turmoil. Many people thought material creation was bad, “even to the point of denigrating marriage” and the children brought about by it.
The saint, however, was often “rejoicing in the goodness of creation, against the beliefs of his time.”
“Francis' response was holiness. He focused on the universal call to holiness, each person according to their vocation in life,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “But first and foremost, he began with himself.”
The new leader encouraged his listeners to continue the renewal of the Church by imitating St. Francis' example of personal holiness and conformity to Christ.
“Continue the work of rebuilding…as our father Francis teaches us, it must begin first of all in each one of us.”
Archbishop Cordileone said he was encouraged by the kindness he has received recently, from individuals of many faiths. He called this “instinctive sense of compassion” an “important building block in rebuilding God's house.”
The U.S. especially, he noted, is a land of freedom to worship and where all persons may “express their faith in the public square, primarily through service to others.”
During his homily, he reflected also that joy is the “hallmark of the Christian life,” and emphasized the difference between the deep abiding joy of the Christian life and fleeting pleasure.
He also encouraged a renewal of Eucharistic devotion, frequent confession, and daily prayer of the rosary among the local Church, “so that we might arrive at the deep eternal joy he wants for us.”
Archbishop Cordileone thanked his preceding bishops and the people of Oakland, and told his new flock of his excitement for the new evangelization in San Francisco. He greeted government leaders with a resolve to collaborate to “build up the common good.”
Music at the Mass included songs in English, Latin, and Spanish, reflecting the diversity of the archdiocese. The Latin propers were sung at the offertory and communion processions, each time accompanied by a hymn in English and Spanish.
“Let us get on then with the work of rebuilding, knowing that 'Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who build it,'” the archbishop concluded.