Friday, April 25, 2008

A Personal Story

Guest contributor to Catholic Ponderings: Chip from Mississippi, USA

Chip shares his first-hand account of what it was like to accompany his son on a trip to see our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI as he celebrated Mass in New York City. The first part is his personal testimony as shared on an online forum, and the second half is in interview form as he shared with his local Catholic newspaper and has graciously agreed to share with us.


My son and I are back from our pilgrimage to see the Holy Father in New York. The Mass there was beautiful and deeply moving. After spending a few days digesting the totality what I experienced, here's what I came home with.

There is much evil in the world. Our human family is afflicted by hatred, greed, poverty, violence, fear, and sexual perversion. All of these things permeate the world in which we live to such a degree we only notice their most gross and obvious manifestations.

Yet, in the midst of all of this, Christ Our Hope shines as a beacon of light in the midst of the darkness. This light of Christ draws in people of every race, nation and tongue. Christ's light is most brilliant when we see it shining through his people united as one. We see Christ's people united as one most fully in the Church. The person of the Pope is a visible symbol of this unity. In other words, it is in him that we see a visible symbol of ourselves as united in Christ and shining in the darkness.

However, some have chosen to separate themselves from the Church Christ established. Others have been born into families which separated from the Church generations before their birth. Nevertheless, because they return Jesus's love for them, they too possess Christ's light, and they too shine forth as beacons in the darkness.

I think it is terribly unfortunate that [in a Christian online forum with others from varying denominations], we who share a common love for Christ, and a common love for his light, have chosen to debase ourselves, and to dim our reflections of Christ's light by attacking one another because of our differences in the way we experience Christ's love for us. It would seem that in the darkness of the world we would rejoice that others also reflect Christ's light. Instead we choose to bicker about whose reflection of Christ's light is the brightest.


Can you tell me your son’s name and age

His name is Vaughan, he's 11 years old, he's in the 5th grade at [omitted] Elementary School in Tupelo.

and why you brought him to New York City and what you hoped he would get out of it?

I brought him to New York for several reasons. I want to instill in him a pride in his Catholic Faith. I wanted him to see the unity of our faith across ethnic, cultural and language barriers. I wanted him to be in a place, for once, where everybody is Catholic. I wanted him to have a memory of a special trip with his dad to see the Pope. I hope he will be inspired to admire holy men and women who give their lives to God. When we go on vacation we do our best (not always successful) to find a Church for Sunday Mass. We do this--in part--to impress upon the kids (3 boys in all) that Church is not something we do when it's convenient for us, rather it's a necessary part of our lives. I hope that taking him out of school and trekking up to New York will send the same message. That message being, "our faith is important enough to make sacrifices."

Also, what did you get out of the whole experience and what part of that day will you remember most?

Two things:

First, I'm a convert. So I never really understood why people got so excited to see the Pope. Even though now as a Catholic, I respect and admire him very much, I still didn't fully understand why people got so worked up to see him. Now I understand. The Holy Father, among many other things, is a symbol for us of our unity in Christ. He is for us a visible sign of the ONE that we become when we are members of Christ's body. That's a pretty exciting thing.

Secondly, I had not been to New York since the twin towers came down. That big scar in the middle of Manhattan is a powerful symbol of the darkness in the world. That darkness is born out of many things...fear, greed, hatred, self-exultation among the many. 50,000 Christians jamming Yankee Stadium cheering for Christ, and for Christ's vicar here among us is an equally powerful symbol of the light that is Christ. It tells me that the light will overcome the darkness. It also tells me that, despite our many failings, there is something (Grace) inside of us that is drawing us to the light.

Thank you Chip for sharing your personal story. Dear friends, please do leave comments you may have. God bless each of you as you continue on this, your own journey of faith in Christ.

Dominus vobiscum!

1 comment:

Alex, age 9 said...

I wish I had seen the Holy Father also. It must have been very interesting to see him in person.