Although I live in Canada, I am an American, very interested in what Pope Benedict would say and do in the USA. While I lived in Rome in 2003--2004, I saw Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict) several times as he concelebrated Mass with Pope John Paul II. Often, since John Paul was already failing in health, Ratzinger would serve as chief celebrant at various Masses, with Pope John Paul present. I was struck by the German Cardinal's humble demeanor and evident spirit of prayer. It was great to see him this week on TV -- the scholar and theologian -- who had "learned to be Pope" as one commentator said today. I was edified to hear people of other Christian faiths also call him "Holy Father." It he is truly a "Father" in many ways. He encouraged us to continue doing the good things Americans do, and to avoid the things we do which are not in line with the gospel. I never heard him "condemn" America. I felt bad when I saw a certain TV commentator use negative language about the Pope. Probably those comments stood out because they were defintely in a minority. It seems that this TV personality has a sort of "Americans can do no wrong" attitude. Americans too pray the Hail Mary in which we say, "Pray for us sinners...". Humility is truth, recognizing both our gifts and our shortcomings. At the Yankee Stadium Mass, I was happy to hear Benedict invite young men and women to follow Jesus more closely as priests and religious sisters or brothers. Tonight Alitalia's Shepherd 1 will bring Pope Benedict XVI back to the Vatican. May his visit to North America bear much fruit. May he rest well when he returns to Rome. I admire his stamina. For a man who is 81 years old, he is remarkable.
As one Boston woman said this afternoon to a CNN interviewer, "Thanks to you in the media" who brought the Pope into our homes with live coverage. In these post 9/11 times, all the news people had to deal with security, travel, and tight schedules. May the Lord reward them!
The Pope's birthday, April 16, coincided with the feast day of a French saint who died in Rome, Benedict Joseph Labre'. In another blog I will dwell a bit longer on St. Benedict Joseph Labre'.
There is a prayer with which I want to end this blog entry: Lord, cover with your protection our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI. Be his light, his strength, his consolation. Amen.