My dear friends,
This is something exciting and exhillirating that I want to share with you. Please feel free to share this with your national communities if you think it will help. It is part of our “Thinking with the Church” to rejoice when the whole Church is rejoicing.
We are coming to the end of an amazing day here in Rome, a day that will go down in history as the Day of Four Popes – John, John Paul, Benedict and Francesco.
Already, by walking around the streets last night, one could catch a sense of the atmosphere and excitement. People had camped on the road all night, and entered the piazza the moment it was opened. The crowds were enormous, but were disciplined, prayerful and focused. I was particularly struck by the large number of youth who were present. There was good cheer all around.
The weather was a miracle in itself. Moderate to heavy rain had been predicted. Just before the Mass, it began to drizzle. The decree of sainthood was read out at the start of the Mass ….. and the rain stopped. It stayed that way all through the ceremony. No rain, and no blazing sun. The perfect weather for an outdoor function. My hair stands on end even recalling this. Apparently, the new saints had already begun their intercessory work!
I was deeply touched by the devotion of the pilgrims. They were conscious of participating in something special, and kept up a sense of reverence right through. Hats off also to the Italian administration and the police. At times, we tend to be rather critical of them, but they certainly did a splendid joh taking care of security, first aid, transport etc. Their hard work behind the scenes enabled everything to run smoothly.
The serene and dignified presence of Pope Emiritus Benedict added dignity to the occasion. The crowd cheered heartily when he appeared, when he greeted the Italian president Napoliatano (they are good friends), and when Papa Francesco went to greet him. We continue to see in Benedict a man of Prayer, Inner Freedom and Humility.
Am also amazed at the energy of Pope Francis. He was so full of life even after the ceremony, greeting dignitaries and the crowds. The people love him and he enjoys being in the midst of them. I was surprised to see how people were even throwing things at him – flags, scarves, balloons. In any other context, this may appear disrespectful, but here it was a spontaneous outpouring of love. In many ways, Pope Francis symbolizes the new life and energy that the Church is experiencing at this moment. Praise God for that!
What a blessing this has been for me to be present in Rome for this special occasion. Am still breathing in the graces of the day, and praying for a safe journey back home for all the pilgrims.
May the intercession of St. John XXIII and St. John Paul II continue to obtain for us many blessings from the Lord.
– Luke Rodrigues sj