March 27, 2013 - Pastor Christopher Maus of St. Daniel Catholic Church in Clarkston is not only looking forward to celebrating Easter, he's also excited about the election of a new pope.
Father Chris Maus is ready for Easter at St. Daniel's Church. (click for larger version)
Reverend Maus didn't believe it when he first heard Pope Benedict resigned. On Feb. 11, Maus awoke to a text message saying Benedict announced his resignation, but it was from a priest who is often a joker, and Maus didn't believe it. He rolled over and went back to bed. It wasn't until later when Maus turned on his TV that he discovered the Pope had resigned.
"I was in shock," Maus said. "Nobody I knew saw it coming."
As the news sunk in, Father Maus noted how most people felt about Pope Benedict's decision.
"It took a lot of courage to relinquish the authority like that, to step down," Maus said. "It took a humble man to do that, to recognize his physical limitations, and in the end people were inspired by it."
The intrigue surrounding Pope Benedict's resignation and the election of a new pope was hard to ignore, even for those who aren't Catholic. Maus believes it is so captivating because "it's a very unique, ancient way of choosing a leader, and I think that probably holds some fascination."
When it came time to choose Benedict's successor, Maus's pick for Pope wasn't Jorge Bergoglio, who was eventually selected, choosing Francis as his papal name.
"Out of the ones that I read about, there was a Cardinal Ravasi that was really attractive to me because he was a biblical scholar," he said.
From Maus's point of view, Bergoglio was "a really dark horse" even though he had come in second when Benedict was being considered in 2005. Maus believes few people expected Bergoglio because of his age.
"Pope Benedict was 78 when he was installed, and Pope Francis is 76," Maus noted. "You really never know because there's such secrecy surrounding it."
Although Father Maus wasn't expecting Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, he said the new pope "seems to be very charismatic."
"This pope has emphasized his commonality with other bishops rather than setting himself apart," Maus explained. "The way he's reached out, taken some of the trappings of his office and put them aside so he could be more with the people, I think that's had a tremendous impact not only to people here in Clarkston, but to Catholics throughout the world."
Maus likes Pope Francis's emphasis on the poor and feels it is "getting us back to basics. More than being a set of rules and regulations, the Church is based on love and giving and faithful service. I think so far, even though it's early in his pontificate, he's reminding us of that."
Pope Francis was elected on March 13 and is the first pope from the Americas. For Maus, the choice to elect a pope from the "new" world is very significant.
"There are 1.2 billion Catholics, and we're all around the world – truly a universal church," he said. The election of Pope Francis, "reminds the world, it reminds the Church, that most Catholics live in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, which traditionally have not had as prominent a role," Maus added.
Overall, Maus points out, "the pope, more than anything else, stands for unity" and represents an "unbroken line in tradition that gives us continuity and stability with what we would consider the very first Pope, Saint Peter."
This week for St. Daniel's is Holy Week, and it started with Palm Sunday. Holy Thursday will be recognized on March 28 when the church will celebrate the institution of the Eucharist. The priest will wash the feet of twelve people during the mass, which will begin at 7 p.m.
On Friday, March 29, St. Daniel's will commemorate Good Friday with Stations of the Cross at 12 p.m. and a service at 2 p.m. Good Friday is the only day of the year when Catholics cannot celebrate a Mass.
On Holy Saturday, March 30, a Blessing of Food will begin at 12 p.m. and an Easter Vigil will be held at 8 p.m. with a candle ceremony and baptisms.
On Easter Sunday, March 31, St. Daniel's will celebrate the resurrection of Christ, holding mass at 7:30, 9, and 11 a.m. Check www.stdanielclarkston.org for information.
Clarkston News reporter