Indeed, Bishop Quinn, the former Archbishop of San Francisco who holds the title of Archbishop Emeritus, based his talk on the Gospel of John, looking specifically at its depiction of both the Passion and the Resurrection of the Lord. He stood and spoke calmly, cradling in one hand the opened red, hardbound book containing John’s Gospel.
The first evening focused on how to read the Gospel, as Bishop Quinn stressed the critical role of prayer, both before and after, reading the Word. “Pray that the Holy Spirit will create understanding and love of God in you.”
On the second evening, Bishop Quinn unpacked key scenes from the Gospel of John’s depiction of the Lord’s Passion, beginning with Jesus’ departure from the Upper Room to the second annunciation on the Cross and the final act of hostility – the piercing of the Lord’s heart by the Roman soldier.
“People tend to think of the Passion in terms of the Lord’s suffering,” Bishop Quinn said. “It is the great manifestation of the love of God for humanity.”
The following night he turned to the Resurrection of the Lord as told in John. He begins with Mary Magdalene’s visit to the tomb, then the reaction of Peter and the disciples both initially and later at the Sea of Tiberias. God often reveals himself in subtle ways, Bishop Quinn said, citing the neatly folded garments at the tomb offering proof that Jesus had risen. Today, we should look for that subtle presence of God as we seek communion with God through prayer, worship and acts of service, Bishop Quinn said.
The evenings, themselves, seem to help many feel God’s presence.
“It was very touching,” said St. Patrick parishioner Donna Casdelos, after the second evening. “I never thought of the piercing of [Jesus’s] heart as the opening up of His heart to the whole world.”
Said parishioner Joan Perez, “It broadens my perspective of the intensity of the love that Christ has for us as individuals and to ponder that I’m that individual.”
The three-night talk was a near homecoming for Bishop Quinn, a native of Riverside whose nephew, Bill Bash, is a parishioner at St. Patrick. Before his retirement, he served as the Archbishop of San Francisco for 18 years. He was the President of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) from 1977-80. Since retiring as the Archbishop of San Francisco, he has kept busy leading retreats, writing books, serving as a spiritual director and offering talks similar to the one he gave at St. Patrick.
“I never wake up in the morning and say, ‘what will I do?’ “ the 84-year-old Bishop Quinn quipped. “And I never get it all done.”