Not long after being elected to the papacy, Pope John took up residence in the papal apartments. These private apartments are hidden well inside Vatican City. John felt a little like a prisoner there, unable to come and go as he pleased and, more important to him, unable to invite friends to daily meals. It had become a custom for the pope to dine alone.
Pope John confided to his secretary, Monsignor Loris Capovilla, that he was unable to sleep through the night anymore. He felt lonely, and this kept him awake. He needed more conversation and more social stimulation to help him lose this feeling of being deserted . . .
Pope John simply could not accustom himself to the habit of eating all by himself, a practice which Pius XII had always maintained. In a very short time Capovilla was invited to join him at the table. The Pope’s appetite improved immediately. Shortly afterward he invited the cardinals of the Curia to be his table companions, one after the other. Little by little, bishops from all over the world, when they made their ad limina visits to Rome, were invited to join him for lunch or dinner. (Klinger, p. 29)
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Once a distinguished luncheon companion ventured to remind John of the solitary eating habits of Pius XII. “Well and good,” John replied. “I value tradition and I grant that my predecessors did, too. I must confess, however, that I have never found any place in the Bible which suggests that the Pope should eat alone." (Klinger, p. 29)
(Above selections from: Praying with Pope John XXIII by Bill Huebsch)
Quotes from John XXIII
• “It often happens that I wake up at night and begin to think about a serious problem and decide I must tell the Pope about it. Then I wake up completely and remember that I am the Pope.”
• “Italians come to ruin most generally in three ways, women, gambling, and farming. My family chose the slowest one.”
• “Anybody can be Pope; the proof of this is that I have become one.”
• “The feelings of my smallness and my nothingness always kept me good company.”
• “To have accepted with simplicity the honour and the burden of the pontificate, with the joy of being able to say that I did nothing to obtain it, absolutely nothing; indeed I was most careful and conscientious to avoid anything that might direct attention to myself. As the voting in Conclave wavered to and fro, I rejoiced when I saw the chances of my being elected diminishing and the likelihood of others, in my opinion truly most worthy and venerable persons, being chosen.”
• "See everything, overlook a great deal, correct a little.”
• “Here I am at the end of the road and at the top of the heap.”
• ”Prayer is the raising of the mind to God.
We must always remember this.
The actual words matter less.”
• “Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”