Be Not Afraid

Today the Church remembers Saint John Paul II, Pope as an optional memorial in the calendar. It allows us to recall some of our favorite memories of a Pope that travelled the globe several times over during the years of his Pontificate (1978-2005).

Meeting P. JPIIThe memorable moment for me was actually getting to meet him in one of the Wednesday audiences in Pope Paul VI Hall. Somehow, our community ended up with two tickets to the audience with a group of pilgrims from Poland, and my name was drawn to go. I cannot tell you how jumbled up my mind was, there was so much i wanted to say, yet this was in December of 2004, and it was just months before his passing. His age is telling, and he was noticeably tired. Yet, when I was introduced as an American studying at the Angelicum, he acknowledged me, and pointed out that I was at his Alma Mater. I was grateful to receive his blessing and to have met him. He taught me the meaning of the Gospel he quoted in the homily of his inauguration:

“…when you were young you put on your own belt and walked where you liked; but when you grow old you will stretch out your hands and somebody else will put a belt round you and take you where you would rather not go” (Jn 21:18).
 

I could see how tired he was, and yet he made a great effort to be present to me and the other pilgrims. I want to remember this in my own days of feeling run down and tired, that I am called to mission, and to serve with all my heart.

What is your favorite memory of Pope John Paul II? Whether in meeting him, hearing him speak, or maybe a quote that struck you.

Let us ask today on his memorial to pray for us, and for the Universal Church, that it may always be a beacon of light and love for a world that is thirsty for truth and does not know it.

Saint John Paul II, pray for us!

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Holy Father Francis’ First Words to Us

Standing on the Loggia of Blessings, looking out at the massive crowd in Saint Peter’s Square, Pope Francis speaks his first words to the people of Rome and to the world (text below):

Brothers and sisters good evening.

You all know that the duty of the Conclave was to give a bishop to Rome. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone almost to the ends of the earth to get him… but here we are. I thank you for the welcome that has come from the diocesan community of Rome. Thank you.

First of all I would like to say a prayer pray for our Bishop Emeritus Benedict XVI. Let us all pray together for him, that the Lord will bless him and that our Lady will protect him.

Our Father…

Hail Mary…

Glory to the Father…

And now let us begin this journey, the Bishop and the people, this journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches, a journey of brotherhood in love, of mutual trust. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world that there might be a great sense of brotherhood. My hope is that this journey of the Church that we begin today, together with the help of my Cardinal Vicar, may be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favour. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence.

[The Protodeacon announced that all those who received the blessing, either in person or by radio, television or by the new means of communication receive the plenary indulgence in the form established by the Church. He prayed that Almighty God protect and guard the Pope so that he may lead the Church for many years to come, and that he would grant peace to the Church throughout the world.]

[Immediately afterwards Pope Francis gave his first blessing Urbi et Orbi – To the City and to the World.]

I will now give my blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will.

Brothers and sisters, I am leaving you. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and I will be with you again soon… We will see one another soon.

Tomorrow I want to go to pray to the Madonna, that she may protect Rome.

Good night and sleep well!

(via Vatican Radio)

Habemus Papam – What a Day that Was!

Over at The Last Papist Standing, we are reminded that today is the sixth anniversary of the election of our dearly beloved Pope Benedict XVI:

And what a day that was! I remember it well. I was living in Rome at the time, finishing my studies at the Angelicum. It was a Saturday morning, and I decided to walk down to Saint Peter’s Square. When I asked my Sisters if any of them wanted to come, they all declined thinking that it was too early in the election process for the conclave to come to a decision.

Just as I entered the square a group of teenage boys were exiting the columns, jumping up and down, yelling, “Abbiamo Papa! Abbiamo Papa!”  We have a Pope! We have a Pope!” I quickly entered the square which was still pretty empty, and saw the last of the smoke coming out of the temporary chimney to the Sistine Chapel, where the Conclave is held. I remember speculating with others waiting who they thought it would be. Many believed it would be Cardinal Ratzinger.

The square filled quickly, and the atmosphere was joyful, as though Christmas had come early, yet there was more. I ended up standing between two very different men. One was a Jew. The other was a Muslim. They came because they knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime event, and they wanted to be a part of it. We were part of that crowd in the video, exclaiming joyfully together the good news that a Pope has been chosen. When the name of Cardinal Ratzinger was announced, these two men, along with most of the crowd, started jumping up and down, yelling, “We have a Pope! We have a Pope!” I asked them both, “Wait. You’re a Jew. You’re a Muslim.” but they both replied, “Today, it doesn’t matter. We have a Pope!”

It was truly a moment where all of Rome was united in a way that I’ve never known before, or have experienced again. But a day is yet to come, when we will put all else aside, and proclaim together “We have the same Lord.” This is the hope I carry in my heart every day. It will be in Christ, our true unity will come.
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