August 4, 2017

Archbishop calls all to ‘keep the end in mind’ during prayer service

During the Solemn Evening Prayer service at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on July 27, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson reverences a crucifix held by Father Patrick Beidelman, rector of the cathedral, as Msgr. William F. Stumpf, left, apostolic nuncio to the United States Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Benedictine Archabbot Kurt Stasiak of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, and Father Jerry Byrd look on. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

During the Solemn Evening Prayer service at SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis on July 27, Archbishop Charles C. Thompson reverences a crucifix held by Father Patrick Beidelman, rector of the cathedral, as Msgr. William F. Stumpf, left, apostolic nuncio to the United States Archbishop Christophe Pierre, Benedictine Archabbot Kurt Stasiak of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad, and Father Jerry Byrd look on. (Photo by Sean Gallagher)

By Natalie Hoefer

The sound could be heard even at the front of SS. Peter and Paul Cathedral in Indianapolis—three solid knocks by Archbishop Charles C. Thompson on a door in the narthex, seeking entrance to the cathedral he would officially “possess” the next day.

“I clearly heard the knocks, and we were only about five rows back [from the altar],” said Benedictine Sister Carol Falkner of Our Lady of Grace Monastery in Beech Grove. “It really struck me that we were welcoming our new shepherd, who would faithfully lead the flock of the Church of our archdiocese. It was quite awesome!”

The knocks came at the beginning of the Solemn Evening Prayer service on July 27, the evening before the 56-year-old bishop would be installed as the seventh shepherd of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis.

(Related coverage: Video | Photos | Homily)

“It’s recorded that at my installation, I will become the youngest archbishop in the United States,” he told the congregation of about 500. “It got me thinking. I will turn 75 in April 2036, the canonical retirement age at which a bishop must submit his letter of resignation to the Holy Father—as the wise saying goes, ‘Always begin with the end in mind.’ ”

He noted that “keeping the end in mind” was a common theme for many of his canon law courses, which “began with reference to the last canon of the Code, namely reminding us that all we are doing is for the salvation of souls, to keep the end in mind, the salvation of the person.”

An end more immediate than that, he noted, is a “personal encounter with the person of Jesus Christ, ultimately ending in salvation of souls.

“Pope Francis has identified numerous means for this task: namely, calling us to cultivate a culture of accompaniment, dialogue, encounter, mercy and care for all of creation. He has made it clear that credible evangelization involves the ability to heal wounds and warm hearts.”

Archbishop Thompson cautioned that “keeping the end in mind does not mean that we know exactly how things will turn out. … Our goals are not necessarily our initiatives—it is the Lord who calls, it is the Lord who sends. We … must be ever open in mind and heart to cooperating with his divine will.”

By keeping the end in mind, he said, “We might no longer perceive the poor, the unborn, the immigrant, the refugee, the sick, the elderly, the addicted, the prisoner and the disabled as burdens but human beings, our brothers and sisters. … We are equipped to safeguard the dignity of every person, defend the family, touch wounds and uphold doctrine while applying the soothing balm of pastoral care. …

“Keeping the end in mind necessarily requires us to be Christ-centered rather than self-centered.”

He closed his homily by recognizing that the evening of prayer and the next day’s installation Mass “mark a new chapter in the great history of the archdiocese, as further means toward the end in mind—salvation of souls. ...

“With the ultimate end in mind, striving to be proactive rather than reactive to all that lies ahead, may we leave no stone of opportunity or challenge left uncovered, no soul left behind, throughout central and southern Indiana and beyond, proclaiming the Good News.

“After all, there is still much to do before I turn 75.”

In an interview with The Criterion, Archbishop Christophe Pierre, apostolic nuncio to the United States, described the Solemn Evening Prayer service as “a kind of vigil.”

“[The installation] tomorrow is a very important event—it says that there is a new pastor, a new archbishop for the archdiocese,” he said. “It’s a new beginning for the archbishop. … It’s a continuation of the mission of Christ, but it’s [also] a new moment of the mission of Christ. I see this time of prayer like a vision before an important moment.”

After Archbishop Thompson knocked on the cathedral doors three times—symbolically seeking entrance into the cathedral which he would “possess” the next day during his installation Mass—he was greeted by Father Patrick Beidelman, rector of the cathedral, who presented him with a crucifix to venerate with a kiss. The shepherd of central and southern Indiana then sprinkled holy water on the congregation from the back of the cathedral.

During the service, Archbishop Pierre blessed the episcopal insignia—gifts given to Archbishop Thompson by three Indiana communities: a ring, pectoral cross and crosier (staff) from the clergy of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis; three pins representing the nails of the cross for his pallium, a gift from the clergy of the Diocese of Evansville, Ind.; and a miter, made by Benedictine Brother Kim Malloy of Saint Meinrad Archabbey in St. Meinrad as a gift from the archabbey and Saint Meinrad Seminary and School of Theology, where the archbishop studied and later taught.

“I thank all three communities for embracing me and for all that you’ve given me—far more than I could ever, ever repay or give back,” Archbishop Thompson said before the close of the evening prayer service. “I am greatly indebted and certainly hold you in the deepest recesses of my heart.”

The archbishop then thanked numerous people and groups. But he reserved a special thank you for religious men and women, calling them a “witness to the Church, to the archdiocese, to the world.

“You are truly a gift,” he said. “You don’t always hear that, I know. Probably we as priests get more of that than religious men and women.

“But you’re the backbone of ministry and service here for us. We thank you so much for your witness not just here tonight, but day in and day out in so many thankless ways. God bless you.”

He closed the service with a plea for prayers.

“I have to be first and foremost the one listening to the Holy Spirit, not only for my sake but for yours,” Archbishop Thompson said. “Pray that I will listen to that Spirit and embrace it, and if I don’t know how to do that, [pray that I] at the very least know how to get out of the way of the Holy Spirit.

“Please, please, pray for me, and be assured of my prayers for you.”
 

(For more coverage of the Solemn Evening Prayer, including a video and photos, visit www.archindy.org/archbishop.)

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