“Today is Pope Francis’ eightieth birthday, and on this occasion the College of Cardinals concelebrated Mass with the Supreme Pontiff at 8 a.m. in the Pauline Chapel, during which Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College, addressed words of congratulations and affection to the Holy Father.
In his homily the Pope commented on the day’s readings, focusing on the theme of memory and the invitation in the Letter to the Hebrews to “remember” and to pause a moment on the journey to look at those who preceded us before going forward. “We need to ask for this grace: not to forget. It proper of love not to forget; it is proper of love to keep always in view the great good we have received; it is proper of love to look to history: to where we are from, our parents, our ancestors, the journey of faith. … And this memory is good for us, as it renders even more intense our vigilant wait for Christmas. A day of calm”.
After the Eucharist the Holy Father addressed the cardinals to thank them for their greetings and their presence, and added:
“For some days some words come to mind, which seem ugly: old age. It is frightening, at least: frightening. Yesterday too, as a gift, Msgr. Cavaliere gave me Cicerone’s De senectute – another drop… I remember what I said to you on 15 March , in our first meeting: ‘Old age is the seat of life’s wisdom’. I hope that for me too it will be this. I hope it will be like this!
“There also comes to mind”, he continued, “How it came so soon – that poem by Pliny, I think: ‘Tacito pede lapsa vetustas’ [Ovid]: with silent steps old age comes to you. It is a blow! But when one thinks of it as a stage in life which is for giving joy, wisdom, hope, one begins to live again. And there comes to mind another poem that I cited to you that day: ‘Old age is calm and religious’, ‘Es ist ruhig, das Alter, und fromm’ [Hölderlin]. Pray that mine may be thus: calm, religious and fruitful. And also joyful. Thank you”.
We have an affinity for Pope Francis because he seems so down to Earth. On his birthday he didn’t receive heads of state or celebrities bearing lavish gifts but dined with the homeless. Seems like a man who lives what he preaches. Happy 80th Birthday Pope Francis!