Preaching simply with a smile
Archbishop Paul Cremona's first year as head of the archdiocese was recently the subject of an article in a UK Catholic paper. In a half-page article in The Catholic Times dominated by a picture of the archbishop, the writer gave readers an overview of the archibishop's first year in office, emphasising his almost uncon-trollable urge to meet the people, whether in churches, clubs, homes, schools or wherever they happen to be.
Quoting from an interview featured in The Sunday Times, the article quoted the archbishop saying that "his presence was imperative to show that the Lord is with them".
The article remarked about Mgr Cremona's ability to communicate with the faithful in simple language and terms. The author quoted "a professional lady in her 40s" telling him that after hearing the archbishop preach during a confirmation ceremony in her parish she "really understood who the Holy Spirit is. The Archbishop did not waffle. He just spoke to us in simple Maltese".
As for the now familiar smile on the archbishop's face, the article quotes Mgr Cremona as saying that the smile is part of his character - something that those who know him personally can confirm - adding however that "it doesn't mean that you're always smiling inside... Pope John XXIII used to say that a smile is another person's right".
It is well known that Mgr Cremona is a great admirer and devotee of Blessed Pope John, who in spite of being 73 when he was elected Pope in 1958, rarely appeared with a stern smile on his face. His smile, like Mgr Cremona's, was one of his features.
The writer concluded his article by statng that at 62, the archbishop's term may probably be the shortest for a Maltese archbishop in 100 years. "His impact may not be administrative or managerial. It will be that of an itinerant preacher."
One may recall that John XXIII's papacy lasted less than five years. Indeed, his election had raised many an eyebrow among sceptics. However, as is also well known, his short papacy did not preclude the man of peasant stock from convening the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, described as "the greatest event in the recent history of the Church, which brought a dynamic message of salvation, a message of what the Church is and what she is called to be and do".
Let's hope and pray that Mgr Cremona and Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, who was elected a year earlier, will succeed in reinvigorating the faith, so that this great gift we received from St Paul, the Apostle of the Gentiles, "will never become superficial... separated from our lifestyle".