“You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. To you I will give the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven.”
These words from the Gospel of St. Matthew, in which Jesus entrusts the care of His church to St. Peter and his successors, served as the entrance antiphon at a special Mass Wednesday in Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity Chapel. In keeping with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ suggestion that churches offer Masses for the Holy Father before he resigns on February 28, members of the Thomas Aquinas College community came together to pray for His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI.
Serving as the principal celebrant and homilist was College Chaplain Rev. Joseph Illo, joined at the altar by fellow chaplains Rev. Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J., and Rev Hildebrand Garceau, O.Praem. The priests were vested in white, in accordance with the USCCB’s prescribed norms for the occasion. Immediately after the Mass, student ushers passed out holy cards  bearing the Pope’s likeness, to aid students and faculty in keeping him in their prayers.
“Our beloved pontiff goes into seclusion within 24 hours to contemplate the pierced side of Christ — His open heart, pouring blood and water over His bride, the Church, that She may be presented to His father without spot or stain,” said Fr. Illo . “Let us pray for this man,” he added, “who will renounce the papacy within a few hours, but does so in great hope.”
Audio of Fr. Illo’s homily:
Thomas Aquinas College has long held Pope Benedict in great esteem, dating back to his time as the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In 2008 the Holy Father personally blessed the Chapel’s cornerstone. In gratitude, his coat of arms and papal motto are inlaid in the marble of the Chapel’s central aisle — just feet away from where, on Wednesday, the College’s chaplains offered Mass for his and the Church’s well being.
“Under the banner of his motto, Cooperatores Veritatis — Cooperators of the Truth — Pope Benedict XVI has strengthened the faithful in the conviction that the human mind can come to an understanding of reality, to the truth about nature, man, and the God who made them,” says Thomas Aquinas College President Michael F. McLean. “Through the holiness of his life and the rich treasure of his writings, he has taught us that the Truth — who is Christ, the Word of God made flesh — should be at the center of all our learning and all our endeavors. He has made a compelling case against the ‘dictatorship of relativism’ which plagues our contemporary culture and impedes the work of the Church. May God grant our beloved pontiff every grace as he begins a new phase of his service to the Church, and may He bless the great work Benedict undertook during his pontificate.”
Posted: February 27, 2013