Monday, March 29, 2010

Santa Missa in Suffragio del Defunto Sommo Pontifice Giovanni Paolo II

This evening, Monday 29 March, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Holy Mass on the occasion of the Fifth Anniversary of the death of Servant of God the Supreme Pontiff John Paul II. (Those who are interested can find a PDF of the Mass Booklet here.)

The Mass was very simple for a Papal Liturgy. The Mass in its entirety was only about an hour and twenty minutes. In it's simplicity, however, one could feel a love for both John Paul II and Benedict XVI. An English translation of the homily can be found through ZENIT. Benedict held up John Paul II's life of service as an example to us all: a life of service; a life lived out of love; a life given completely "even to the point of death". The Holy Father concluded his homily with sentiments I would like to echo here: "While we continue the Eucharistic celebration, being on the point of living the glorious days of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of the Lord, let us entrust ourselves with confidence -- following the example of the Venerable John Paul II -- to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that she will sustain us in the commitment to be, in every circumstance, tireless apostles of her divine Son and of his merciful Love. Amen!"

The Missionaries of Charity were there again. This time two of them were among those presenting the Gifts at the Offertory to the Holy Father.

After Mass, Karlo Leonor and I were all excited stalking random Cardinals, looking for people we knew, noting the Processional Doors of the Basilica were open and that we'd never seen them open before, etc. We exited along the left, the side pilgrims typically enter, and suddenly someone noticed a different brick on the Square. We realized it was the marker where Pope John Paul II had been shot on 13 May 1981. A little nun was very excited to tell us about the stone. We nodded as though we thoroughly understood. The thought crossed my mind afterward that she might have known John Paul II. Regardless, that moment was a Providential time to find the brick; I had been searching the Square since we arrived at the beginning of February.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday dawned to a bright and crisp morning, the sky a brilliant blue. Crowds began to gather outside Saint Peter's Square and raced to fill the seats when the Square opened at 8:00am. The Holy Father entered at the start of the 9:30am Mass by "pope-mobile" to the obilisk in the center of the square. The blessing of the palms and olive branches took place there and the procession then came straight forward to the Altar set up in front of the Basilica.

Three deacons chanted The Passion of Our Lord. When it came time to kneel at the point in the Passion where Jesus died, the entire Square fell into a deafening silence. In a crowd of approximately 70,000 people, you could hear a pin drop. This same silence fell at the time of personal reflection following the Holy Father's homily and at the Consecration of the Body and Blood of Christ.

This evening, a group of us took another walk down to the Square. Alessandro Marchetti and I remained to stay until the Holy Father went to bed. The lights in his apartments remained lit and when the bells ran at 11:00pm, we decided to leave. After we returned our chairs back behind the barriers, the first light went out. We kept our eyes on the last window and a few moments
later, the final light went out at 11:02pm. An Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be for his intentions and we were on our way back to Bernardi to head to bed ourselves.

The Missionaries of Charity sat two rows behind us at Mass. Enough said.

I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! These words of Christ from the Gospel of Luke burn in my heart and should burn through all of us this Holy Week. The Church has and shall continue to undergo trials; She is currently suffering in a particular way from the sins of the world. May we cry out to the Lord for mercy and run like the Prodigal Son to His Healing Love. Those of us in the Church must stand firm in Her Teaching and be beacons of light to the whole world. Please pray for the Holy Father this week and for all his intentions as he continues to undertake his work as Successor of Peter. May the trials we have been allowed to endure purify us to greater closeness and union with Our Lord.

Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Dominus Deus Sabaoth.
Pleni sunt caeli et terra gloria tua.
Hosanna in excelsis.
Benedictus qui venit in nomine Domini.
Hosanna in excelsis.