Viva el Papa!

Pope Francis

Viva el papa! Que viva! I have been fascinated by Pope Francis’ trip to Cuba and the United States, and I’m sure many of you have as well. He has captivated countless people in both countries by his humor, his humility, and the way in which he has preached the Gospel through his words and actions. And he has done all of this with the consistency of the doctrines of the Church, even joking that he’s happy to recite the Creed if anyone is worried about him! In everything that I saw (on television and the Internet, not in person!) what struck me was overwhelming joy, both in the pope and in the people he encountered. As a pastor, he wanted to be with the people.

There were particular moments of joy, like when he talked with students in East Harlem, or as he traveled from one place to the next, asking the car to stop several times so he could bless someone and show them a gesture of support and compassion. There were also moments of joy when he talked about hope amidst the sadness of the world today, especially in the prayer service at the Ground Zero Memorial in New York.

I haven’t read every word of his speeches, homilies, etc. (hopefully soon!), but I do like reading his interactions with seminarians, clergy, and religious. He preached in Philadelphia at a Mass at the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. It was a Mass for bishops, clergy, and religious of Pennsylvania. In his homily, Francis spoke of Saint Katharine Drexel, who was so concerned about the needs of the missions in the United States that she went to see Pope Leo XIII to ask for help. In response he asked her “What about you?  What are you going to do?” Katherine answered the call, and founded many Catholic schools and mission centers for Native Americans and African Americans.

In his time here, Pope Francis brought up famous people like Katherine Drexel, Martin Luther King, Jr, Dorothy Day and others to illustrate how, no matter where we are in life, you and I have been called by our Baptism to answer a need, to serve rather than be served. I have a feeling Pope Francis often uses “what about you?” to talk about engaging the laity, especially the young people who have “high ideals, generosity of spirit, and love for Christ and the Church”.  Certainly this theme of “What about you?” is excellent for those who are discerning God’s call – it’s another way to frame what each of us must answer when we encounter need in the world. How are we called to encounter Jesus in our families and communities? Where are the needs that you and I can help, instead of hoping someone else carries the load? We simply have to do what we can with the gifts God has given to each of us.

Oremus pro invicem! Let us pray for one another in this wonderful month of the Rosary, a time when we also especially remember and pray for a greater respect for life, from conception to natural death. May Our Lady of Sorrows intercede for us as we listen to God in prayer, so that we may discern His call, and say “yes” to Him in all that we say, think and do.

Prophecy of Simeon in stained glass, Christ the King Catholic Church

Vocation Prayer to Mary, Mother of Sorrows

Hail Mary, full of grace,
all generations call you blessed.

Hail Mary, Mother of Sorrows,
upon hearing the prophecy of Simeon, 
a sword pierced your heart.
Comfort those discerning God's call,
that to follow your Son
as a Holy Cross priest, brother or sister
is not just demanding,
but joy filled.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
may future generations
of Holy Cross religious
call you blessed.

An excerpt from the Holy Cross Directory of Prayer

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