This master teacher, theologian, Chief Pastor and Pope acted with precision, purpose, and profound care.
The six day apostolic visit of the Holy Father,Pope Benedict XVI, which all occurred under the theme "Christ our Hope",has the potential to continue its influence on the Nation as each of his messages and the deeper meaning of his ministry are reflected upon in the Church and in the broader American Culture.
LOS ANGELES (Catholic Online) - The Nation awakened Monday morning to begin what must now become a prolonged reflection on the apostolic visitation of Pope Benedict XVI to the United States of America.
This master teacher, theologian, Chief Pastor and Pope acted with precision, purpose, and profound care, laying the groundwork for what can become a rebirth of dynamic Catholic faith and life in America, for the sake of the world.
First, we need to spend serious time reflecting upon the Holy Father’s visit to the Capitol City of our Nation, Washington, D.C.
He chose the venue with obvious symbolic purpose. This is the place from which the work of governing proceeds in the Nation. He had much to say about good governance and authentic social justice. It is also the symbolic center of the Nations Catholic Higher Educational system and the home of the Offices of the representatives of the American Catholic hierarchy, the offices of the United Sates Conference of Catholic Bishops. He had much to say concerning catholic education and he with his Bishops, he exercised the Office and call of Peter by “Strengthening his brothers”.
His landing at Andrews Air Force base, his gracious greetings on the White House lawn, his private Vespers Service with the Nations Bishops, his glorious celebration of the Sacred Liturgy at the Nationals Park in D.C., his substantive address to 200 leaders of Catholic Academies concerning centrality of Catholic identity in their educational mission, to his interreligious gathering at the John Paul II Cultural Center, the content and context of the Holy Father’s visit to the Nation’s Capitol bears serious prayer, reflection and action.
Every action, word and gesture was purposeful, pastoral and powerful.
Then, there was the unannounced meeting. Sean Cardinal O’Malley, true Franciscan and shepherd, accompanied the Holy Father in a meeting with representative victims of the horrible sexual abuse committed by a small minority of clerics. Though he had addressed this wound from the moment he began his journey on the plane, it was at this meeting that his pastor’s heart and genuine care evidenced that not only had this Pope heard the cry of this segment of the poor in our midst, but that he had what is, in Latin, “Compassio”, from which we derive the word compassion.
In its etymology it means “to suffer with”. This meeting was, in the words of one of the participants “the beginning of the end.” Pope Benedict showed, what the Lord proclaimed, that the Truth does indeed set you free. He demonstrated the importance of his Papal office as he began to bind up the wounds which must be healed.
Next, we need to seriously reflect upon his visit to New York, another National Capitol of sorts for the American people.
It is the home of historic Saint Patrick’s Church. It is a center of American culture, home of the headquarters of the United Nations and the epicenter of an emerging global economic order. The “Big Apple” is also the adopted home of so many Americans who still grieve the tragic loss of our countrymen and women at Ground Zero, and see the response of that City as one of America’s finest hours.
His address to the United Nations was filled with clear, directive and substantive insights into the dignity of the human person as the polestar of all public policy, the importance of marriage and the family, and the obligations of global solidarity and environmental stewardship. It was an impassioned plea for authentic human freedom and religious freedom, and a call to peace. His words deserve parsing and serious discussion by global leaders as they consider the precarious nature of our global relations.
He chose the occasion of the Anniversary of the Declaration on Human Rights quite intentionally. His exposition of the Natural Law as the indispensable foundation for all fundamental human rights and the framework for truly just governance was both enlightened and timely.
His message to other Christians in the ecumenical gathering held at historic St. Josephs Church was a continuation of the extraordinary call to Communion set forth by his predecessor Pope John Paul II’ in the Encyclical letter “May They Be One”.
It revealed this Pope’ unwavering, uncompromising and solid commitment to an authentic ecumenism, one which acknowledges important differences and distinctives while also holding up the vital call for healing and restored ecclesial communion. He rightly sees the divisions among Christians as weakening our ability to engage in a new missionary age.
His homily and presidency at that exquisitely beautiful Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, where he encouraged priests, deacons, seminarians and consecrated men and women religious in their sacrificial and prophetic service, again set forth the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ as it is to be lived within the full communion of His Church.
Everything about that Liturgy, from its music, to its proper respect for Liturgical rubrics and its solemnity and grandeur, served to underscore the heart of Catholic Christian faith and worship to a world that was clearly being drawn to that altar. At that event, as at all others, the coverage of the secular Press was positive and clearly revealed a sense of respect and awe.
His visit to Saint Josephs Seminary where he met with beloved disabled youth and his dearly cherished seminarians was overflowing with hope and filled with the youthful exuberance of a Church which has clearly caught its second wind and is being positioned for a “new springtime” of world missions and a “New Evangelization.”
His Solemn and Sacred visit to America’s shrine, Ground Zero was, well, breathtaking. There, in his demeanor, manner and message, he showed reverence to those who suffered and lost their lives as well as his continuing solidarity with a Nation which still grieves.
His Closing Mass at Yankee Stadium celebrated the richness of the Catholic history in the American experience and the Catholic contribution and mission in the United States of America. He symbolically remembered the l200th anniversary of the Baltimore Archdiocese’s designation as an archdiocese, and the birth of the Dioceses of Boston, New York, Louisville and Philadelphia and used the past as a backdrop for issuing a call to a future missionary task for that same Church, made new in a New Pentecost.
He chose that final teaching moment, in his homily, to articulate the deep and profound themes one finds throughout his messages in America, including his presentation of the call to an authentic human freedom, in opposition to its various contemporary counterfeits.
He came, he saw and he conquered with care.
The English word “care” is derived from the Latin, Caritas. It really means love, in its myriad of manifestations. There are many faces of love.
Pope Benedict XVI showed forth genuine love in his face. It was the love of “Christ our Hope”, whose message he bore. He revealed it in his smile, radiated it from his eyes, and taught us about its deeper meaning in each of his messages and gestures.
We had his presence in our Nation for six days. We celebrated his birthday and his elevation to the Chair of Peter. We prayed, we laughed, we wept, we worshipped, we listened to his words and we witnessed his care. In all that we encountered the One whom he serves, the Lord Jesus Christ, Risen from the dead and continuing his redemptive mission through His Church.
Now, our work must begin.
© 2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2014
Respect for Women: That all cultures may respect the rights and dignity of women.
Vocations: That many young people may accept the Lord’s invitation to consecrate their lives to proclaiming the Gospel.
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