The Friday Five: Don’t Miss the Message Next Week

In the lead-up to Pope Francis’ Apostolic Journey to the U.S., we are launching #FrancisontheFamily, a Diocesan-wide campaign that focuses on the catechesis of #PopeFrancis pertaining to family life. We have chosen to highlight some of Francis’ most repeated challenges to us – encounter, accompany, witness, and welcome – as a way of sharing the joy of family life.

By: Elise Italiano, Director of Communications

Yankee Stadium. April 20, 2008.

I was 24 years old, and it was the first time I had been in the presence of the Holy Father. From the nosebleeds, Pope Benedict XVI was just a tiny figure in white, waving at the enormous crowd. There is no way he could have seen me. But despite the distance, I felt seen. I felt known. Christ was palpable in a way that I had never experienced. I was convinced, beyond any doubt, that the Lord Jesus is present in His Church. And I knew, almost for the first time, how much God loved me.

In his homily, I experienced a personal invitation to share the joy of my faith as a young adult. It is in part, why I couldn’t help but be involved in Catholic communications.

Yesterday, not far from here, I was moved by the joy, the hope and the generous love of Christ which I saw on the faces of the many young people assembled in Dunwoodie. They are the Church’s future, and they deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them. And so I wish to close by adding a special word of encouragement to them. My dear young friends, like the seven men, “filled with the Spirit and wisdom” whom the Apostles charged with care for the young Church, may you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, “the same, yesterday, and today and for ever” and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8). These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world – including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb. In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door (Homily at Yankee Stadium, October 2, 1979, No. 7), let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice.

There has been exhaustive (and might I be so candid as to say aggravating) speculation about what Pope Francis may or may say while he’s here, whether or not it will create unity or division, whether or not it will it will be misinterpreted or misused. None of that is in anyone’s control. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit do His work. Put aside any anxious thoughts and prepare to receive a gift from the Holy Father — a renewed faith in the Lord Jesus.

WELCOME template

As Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, President of the USCCB shared in an interview, the Holy Father speaks as a pastor of souls, not a politician or an economist.

Here are the five moments I’m going to pay particular attention to, as I await the message the Lord wishes to send me during this papal visit. This is where Pope Francis will shine as pastor, preacher, and prophet.

1 Homily, Canonization Mass for Blessed Junipero Serra

2 Remarks at the World Trade Center

3 Homily at Madison Square Garden

4 Address at the Festival of Families

5 Homily to close the World Meeting of Families

And you can bet that there will be countless stirrings from the Holy Spirit simply by watching Pope Francis encounter so many people.

The Lord wants to reveal something to you next week through the Holy Father. Are you ready?

Find Elise on Twitter @eliseanne

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