Yesterday as I warmed cold pizza for lunch, I watched Pope Francis’s motorcade from the White House to the Washington basilica where JFK’s memorial service was. Yesterday was a much happier procession. Let’s face it, this guy radiates compassion, caring, joy, peace and new hope.
People had waited for hours. Tots were whisked to his Jeep Popemobile for a quick blessing or a gentle kiss on the pate of their head. Voices screeched gleefully as he slid by, like my teenaged daughters back when the Backstreet Boys were the going thing. Pope Francis seemed to have something for all of them. As impressive as his face was, I couldn’t miss the faces of the people.
Faces of real yearning; faces lifted from drudgery; faces aware they can’t make it on their own.
Francis truly is a people’s pope…Did you know why we bless animals on this particular Sunday? Not just for the splendid weather. The first Sunday of October traditionally honors St. Francis. I mean the ancient Francis who eschewed wealth, embraced reconciliation, and shared peace. I hope you’ll come Sunday to worship outside with us on our church’s sun-drenched lawn. I like this Sunday, getting way down at your level to greet the families of FCC, Darien—on my knees, where your pets are. As I bless the critters our families rally around, I feel like I reach into your hearts and hold them in my hand. Like the pope, it makes me high to impart a blessing to you.
Do you know what catholicity is? It’s a real English word meaning, universality, inclusivity, broad-minded generosity. Sometimes the church actually manages to carry that off. Here is a prayer Pope Francis gave in St Peter’s in Rome last May at Pentecost. Read it aloud and share it.
Wondrous community of infinite love,
Teach us to contemplate you
In the beauty of the universe,
For all things speak of you.
Awaken our praise and thankfulness
For every being that you have made.
Give us the grace to feel profoundly joined to everything that is.
God of love,
Show us our place in the world
As channels of your love
For all the creatures of this earth,
For not one of them is forgotten in your sight.
Enlighten those who possess money and power
That they may avoid the sin of indifference,
That they may love the common good, advance the weak,
And care for this world in which we live.
The poor and the earth are crying out.
Seize us with your power and light,
Help us to protect all life,
To prepare a better future,
For the coming of your Kingdom
Of justice, peace, love, and beauty.
Praise be to you.