Q: Your Excellencies, I have met both of you now – Archbishop Schnurr, you came to my house a few weeks ago to check out our newly established Society of St. Paul. Bishop Binzer, I met you at St. Peter in Chains last week when I went to the RCIA rite on Sunday to support my girlfriend and her sponsor. I was wondering if either of you had any advice for encouragement as Easter approaches that I could pass on to her. I would also greatly appreciate if you could keep her in your prayers! Thank you. Andrew
A. Greetings to you Andrew! I remember with joy my visit with the Society of St. Paul. You ask for advice for encouragement that you might pass along to your girlfriend who participates in RCIA. Your name itself may give added meaning to my response.
Go to the Gospel of John 1:35-40:
“The next day John was there again with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he said “Behold, the Lamb of God.” The two disciples heard what he said and followed Jesus. Jesus turned and saw them following him and said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi, where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come, and you will see.” So the went and saw where he was staying, and they stayed with him that day. It was about four in the afternoon. Andrew, the brother of Simon Peter, was one of the two who heard John and followed Jesus….”
Note the insistence on “stay, stay, stay” in this verse. To know where Jesus stays, a disciple must remain/stay with Him. And this verse already hints at the answer to “Rabbi, where are you staying?” The Gospel of John goes on to tell us that Jesus stays with God the Father at all times. Thus the phrase, “It was about four in the afternoon.” Biblical tradition tells us that this was the hour that God walk in the Garden of Eden.
Thus, Jesus bids the Christian disciple to stay with Him, abide with Him, and remain with Him, and He will lead us to God the Father. And just as Jesus’ “staying” with the Father brings Him joy and peace, Jesus assures us that, while there will be crosses in life (Matt. 16:24), there will be surpassing peace (Jn. 14:27), joy (Jn. 15:11), and fullness of life (Jn. 10:10).
Please give your girlfriend my prayerful greetings and best wishes.
Q: What is your favorite hobby or activity to do when you have some “down” time from your work?
A: There isn’t much “down” time but, when it does occur, I enjoy reading. During the summer months, I enjoy gardening – though because of my schedule, it is primarily container gardening these days (less weeding and I do not have to worry about plants being eaten by deer!). Finally, because I must follow a gluten-free diet, I do all my own cooking, and I have found that to be relaxing.
Q: What is your favorite memory of Pope Benedict XVI?
A: In his very first public remarks after being elected pope in 2005, Pope Benedict XVI referred to himself as a humble man. To those who had gathered in St. Peter’s Square, he stated, “Dear brothers and sisters, after the great John Paul II, the cardinals have elected me – a simple, humble worker in the vineyard of the Lord.” He meant, of course, that he came from an ordinary family background and a small German town. He is also a humble man who would rather have taught theology at a university than be called to responsibilities at the Vatican. He moved to the Vatican in humble obedience to Pope John Paul II, and he never lost his humble approach. Frequently, when I was in Rome, I would see then-Cardinal Ratzinger in St. Peter’s Square where he would mingle with the people while garbed in a simple black cassock. There was no indication that he was a cardinal. Often he was “drafted” by a group to serve as their photographer. This he did willingly and with a generous smile. As far as the group members were concerned, they had just been assisted by one of the local priests — and Cardinal Ratzinger was quite content to depart with that understanding.
Q: Did you send your Mother a card on Valentine’s Day?
A: My mother celebrated her 93rd birthday on February 2. Since I was going to be out of the country that weekend, I called her before I departed, sent her a birthday card, and called her again when I returned from the trip. She thanked me for the card, but said she really prefers the phone calls. Therefore, while I did not sent her a Valentine’s Day card this year, I did talk to her on the phone and wished her a happy day.
Q: What did you give up for Lent this year?
A: We begin the Season of Lent with a reading from the prophet Joel at the Ash Wednesday Mass. He calls out to us now as surely as he called out to the Chosen People long ago: “Return to me.” Traditionally, our times of return and repentance have been marked by our participation in prayer, fasting, and alms-giving. For the Lenten Season, I have made commitments in all three areas. That having been said, I also like to follow the advice of Jesus in the gospel of the Mass on Ash Wednesday: “go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret.”