Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome to the USA, Dear Holy Father!

UPDATE: The Holy Father sends a message to U.S. Catholics

"With great joy we anticipate the first apostolic visit of his Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI, to the United States of America, April 15-20, 2008. We pledge our prayers in preparation for this historic journey, that hearts may be opened to God's love and fidelity by our Holy Father's pilgrimage."
--Francis Cardinal George
President, United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

It seems to be very long ago that we last had the honor to receive a pontiff anywhere in the United States. In all honesty, I could not remember how long it has been and had to look it up. Our beloved late Pope John Paul II had been so frail for so many years and we had to accept that he was not up to the long travels anymore. According to the USCCB, over a twenty-year span, the Pope visited the United States just seven times. His last visit was in 1999 and that was only to the city of St. Louis.

In times like this as we await his visit and the media whirl which will follow him throughout the visit, I pray that the faith of lukewarm Catholics will be invigorated and made anew. With so much misinformation that well-intentioned 'Christians' spread about the Catholic Church, it is my hope that they will be afforded a new look at the Papacy, Church teachings and the Catholic faith in 2008.

This visit is not without threats of protests and in some cases violence. Having just read Acts of the Apostles, my mind turns to the Sanhendrin when they gnashed their teeth at the new Christians. They had just murdered the Messiah and realizing that this community He had left behind was not going away, they become more determined to wipe them out. There is nothing new about the persecution of Christians and there will always be people who, like the high priests in ancient Jerusalem, are "stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, [and] always oppose the holy Spirit" when they are visited by the truth. There are many reasons why Catholicism makes some uncomfortable, and those reasons can be split into two categories: Those who hate what they think Catholicism is and those who would have to leave their present lifestyle behind in order to be Catholic.

Let us be prayerful and rejoice that we should be blessed by a visit of the Holy Father. Most of us will not be able to see him in person, but there are plenty of opportunities to see him on television or listen along on radio. EWTN will have complete coverage of the occasion and theirs will be without the secularized commentary which will be rampant on the regular media outlets.
To view the itinerary of the Holy Father's visit please visit the official Papal Visit Site.

The National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington D.C. is accepting prayer intention requests for the Papal evening prayer service. Please take advantage of this wonderful opportunity for your prayers to be included.

Almighty and everlasting God, have mercy upon Thy servant, Benedict, our Supreme Pontiff, and direct him, according to Thy loving-kindness, in the way of eternal salvation; that, of thy gift, he may ever desire that which is pleasing unto thee and may accomplish it with all his might. Through Christ Our Lord. Amen

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