I finished watching the Mass at Yankee Stadium not long ago. I really haven't been able to see as much as I had hoped of the Pope's visit. But I have been monitoring what has been happening.
I have been encouraged by the Pope's overall take on American life. He gives us high praise for the things that are good about our country. We are a democracy. We value freedom. We are a religious people, and in spite of so much of our rhetoric to the contrary, we allow a lot of that religion to spill into the public sector. The Pope saw that as being very hopeful, especially in comparison with Europe which has become so secular.
I was also encouraged to hear him issue challenges to our country. He talked to us about materialism. He spoke of our tendency, especially as Catholics, to downplay our religious distinctives and seek to meld into the culturally acceptable civic religion of our society. He spoke of our need to be welcoming to immigrants, and to respect the life and dignity of every human being, especially that of the unborn.
In some ways I was surprised- pleasantly surprised. The Pope touched on issues that I didn't think would be mentioned. He called on Catholics to truly live out our faith, and to live out the whole faith. We cannot pick and choose. To be Catholic is to live out all of the faith, not just the parts we like. In his homily at Yankee Stadium, he called on us to be unashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He preached to us to receive Christ, to love Him, and serve Him with all our hearts.
What will be the long term results of his visit? I hope it will be a re-energized Church. I hope it will inspire many to a renewed committment to live holy. I also hope it will spark more vocations to the priesthood and the religious life.
What has been the impact of his visit on me? I have been encouraged by our Chief Shepherd. He has confirmed so many things that I hold in my own heart. That has been exciting. He challenges me to hold firm to the truth, even if it is unpopular and it seems that no one is listening. He models before me a joyful orthodoxy. May I be able to walk in his footsteps and do so into my twilight years if God should grant them to me.
Our Pope will be leaving soon. We are a much richer people for his visit. I hope he feels enriched as well. Lord, bless our Papa, our Pope!