Time for action

March 11, 2013

The conclave begins tomorrow morning. Excitement is growing and all bets are off. At this point, it is anyone's guess. The press and electronic media are on the lookout, requests for interviews have been increasing. This morning, the last general congregation before the conclave begins was held in the Paul VI Hall.

One question keeps coming back: many journalists ask me, how does the Cardinal prepare for this conclave? My spontaneous reaction is to mention prayer. It may sound cliché, but it still is true and even essential. That being said, on a slightly more down-to-earth level, how does one prepare to live such an event?

The Cardinal is a pragmatic man. He prepares as do all his fellow cardinals. Since no one knows how long the reclusion in Saint Martha's House and the Sistine Chapel will last, there must be enough of the basic necessities to keep going. Clothing, socks, underwear, toiletries, medicines, breviary, rosary, cassocks (red and black), liturgical vestments, etc. And all that must fit into a small suitcase, the kind used as airplane carry-on luggage.

Since the cardinals enter Saint Martha's House tomorrow morning, beginning at 7 a.m., we must be ready to leave around 8 a.m. at the latest. It will leave the Cardinal just enough time to take possession of his room and to prepare for the entrance procession for the mass at 10 a.m. This celebration is what gives the starting signal for the conclave.  
When the mass will be over, the Extra Omnes hymn will be sung, prompting all those whose presence in the conclave is not required to leave. The rest belongs to the fathers of the conclave who will bear the heavy responsibility, with the help of the Holy Spirit, of providing the universal Church with a new pope.  

Tomorrow morning, it's wake-up at 5 a.m.

Richard Saint-Louis, d.p. 


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