By Father Timothy Gollob
Special to The Texas Catholic
With all the publicity about the choosing of a new pontiff for the Roman Catholic Church, we have been submerged in the world of ecclesiastical colors.
First of all it was the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He commented that he was going to trade in his red shoes for some brown leather suedes.
As I was watching the televised trip of the retired pope to Castel Gandolfo, one of the senior citizens in our Cross Center was attentively taking in the descent of Benedict from the helicopter. “Ah, ha,” she remarked. “He still is wearing those red shoes!”
The fact that he wore red shoes has some roots in the history of what bishops wore during liturgical celebrations in the past.
Our rector at the Pontifical North American College was Bishop Martin J. O’Connor. At each solemn Mass he had to be vested in the sanctuary. Before he put on the outer vestments, he had to put on seven lacy surplices which represented the seven minor and major orders. Then he had to be sure that his shoes matched the liturgical color of the day!
Just recently one of our priests, Father Greg Kelly, was designated to be a wearer of the red cassock indicating that he was a Papal Chamberlain. This was a glorious post for priests who were at ceremonies at the Vatican as it gave them a personal place of honor near the pope during special events.
These priests were called “shirt-tail” monsignors because they went out of style with the death or resignation of the pope who appointed them. But Msgr. Kelly has nothing to fret about as that rule has been overridden and he is to be a monsignor in perpetuity.
Colors other than red have also been in the news. So many people were watching the smoke stack on the roof of the Sistine Chapel. Sometimes the smoke looked gray and a few times it ended up in the black. And even on the last vote when the white puff of smoke emerged from the stack, some took it for gray.
But the Sistine Chapel seagull (who of course represented the Holy Spirit) was right on course. We do have a new spiritual leader. Now it is our task to pray for Pope Francis. Let’s give him time and space to get used to the white outfit he now wears.
Check him out to see if he sports the red slippers and the guidance of the Holy Spirit that go with the job.
Father Timothy Gollob is the pastor of Holy Cross Catholic Church in Oak Cliff.