Rocco at Whispers in the Loggia has been the indispensable go-to source for complete and timely postings of the texts of each of the many addresses Pope Benedict has made during his sojourn in America. I was happy to see that he (and Fr. James Martin) thought similarly to me, that the pontiff’s brief extemporaneous remarks at the back of St. Patrick’s Cathedral (upon being reminded that it was the precise moment of his election three years earlier) provided a perfect glimpse into the heart of the man:
At this moment I can only thank you for your love of the Church and Our Lord, and for the love which you show to the poor Successor of Saint Peter. I will try to do all that is possible to be a worthy successor of the great Apostle, who also was a man with faults and sins, but remained in the end the rock for the Church. And so I too, with all my spiritual poverty, can be for this time, in virtue of the Lord’s grace, the Successor of Peter.
It is also your prayers and your love which give me the certainty that the Lord will help me in this my ministry. I am therefore deeply grateful for your love and for your prayers. My response now for all that you have given to me during this visit is my blessing, which I impart to you at the conclusion of this beautiful Celebration.
You could sum his remarks up in five words, “Love Jesus, pray for me.” But he is much more elegant that that.
On Friday night there was a youth gathering at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and a friend of ours, a freshly ordained deacon participated. At one point the sacrament of confession was offered to the young people in attendance. “I made the same assumption that most people would make. I turned around to talk to someone, figuring at that point – at being offered confession – the young people would leave. I was stunned to turn back around and find lines 30 and 40 deep at each station, and a scrambling to find available priests to help out. We figured we would be there all night. For me, it was just extraordinary.”
Rocco saw a bit of what was happening on Friday night as well; he writes about it and adds his own enthusiastic thoughts here.
Martin called Benedict’s homily to clergy and religious at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, “…one of the best I’ve ever heard. Period.” Well, he’d say that, being a priest for whom its message was meant, but in reading it, I really must agree that it’s a stunner. His use of the architecture and structure of that very building as a metaphor for their lives in the church was just brilliant and again, yes, elegant:
“…the stained glass windows, which flood the interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they reveal all their splendor. Many writers – here in America we can think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty, adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we, who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to draw all people into this mystery of light.
Like all Gothic cathedrals, it is a highly complex structure, whose exact and harmonious proportions symbolize the unity of God’s creation. Medieval artists often portrayed Christ, the creative Word of God, as a heavenly “geometer”, compass in hand, who orders the cosmos with infinite wisdom and purpose. Does this not bring to mind our need to see all things with the eyes of faith, and thus to grasp them in their truest perspective, in the unity of God’s eternal plan?
He went on to discuss – again – the abuse scandals, and then to exhort the whole church to holiness through the grace of Christ. If you read no other text of Benedict’s visit this weekend, do read this one; it is a tremendous piece that both entertains and instructs and ultimately leads to thoughtfulness and prayer.
Finally, wasn’t the gathering at Dunwoodie and St. Joseph’s Seminary a wonderful sort of “mini” World Youth Day? One of the kids presenting the pope with an American and tri-state-area-based Catholic hero was a friend of the family, and it was thrilling to see him connect with Benedict with a very Italian-style buss to both cheeks. Benedict must be tired – he’s 81 and has had very full and emotional days all throughout this trip – and yet he, the introvert pope, seemed to be as bouyed and energized by the 25,000 young people in attendance as John Paul II ever was. Excellent day!
I agree with Gateway Pundit that Kelly Clarkson sang a good (and youthful) rendition of Shubert’s Ave Maria, although I do wish someone had urged her against the plunging neckline.
Flipping the channels this morning I heard someone complaining that the pope is getting too much good press. Seems fair to me, considering the miserable press he’s gotten since he was Cardinal Ratzinger, and upon his elevation. But don’t get too concerned; as Jim points out here, some members of the press are happy to continue to mischaracterize the pope’s words and intentions.
Over at Godspy.com, Angelo Matera has a great, spot-on piece about How the media is missing the pope’s radical critique of American religion, but the more I listen to the press during this visit the more I realize…they miss a lot.
Gateway Pundit, who has pretty wide coverage of Benedict, makes a great catch:
The Pope yesterday for the first time talked about his youth and the Nazi regime, via BBC:
The Pope told the crowd his own years as a teenager had been “marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers”.
“Its influence grew, infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion, before it was fully recognised for the monster it was,” he said.
“It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good.
“Let us thank God that so many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen from the extension of democracy and respect for human rights.”
Meanwhile Zoe Romanowsky notes how a celibate may become “father to the world”