When the alarm went off my immediate thought was "Did I miss it?". Then I looked at the clock. Nope. Not a chance. I shuffled out to my living room and hit the "on" button. In the dark, a light flickered on.
Having just basic cable, I chose NBC as my news outlet of choice only because I figured George Weigal would be there alongside Katie to discuss what everything meant. He was, lucky for Katie and Brian Williams. Another priest was there and he was pretty good as well. At the start they said that they would keep their comments to a minimum so that we could follow the Mass and hear Archbishop Foleyl translate. It was my first TV Mass-and I didn't need a translator. I love the fact that billions of people around the world were watching this and probably didn't need a translator as well.
Cardinal Ratzinger began with "Follow Me" and how Karol Wojtyla answered that call. In a life filled with loss which would bury most people with grief, he answered God's call in his life, becoming a priest and servant of God. His next-to-last book "Rise, let us be in our way" challenges me to quit looking at the things in my life that bring me down and I sputter and moan about. How human, some would say, how self serving, is the reality.
One of the things that ironically challenges me these days is reaching out to the kids. It was easier in the inner city in some regard because they were so desperately needy. In suburbia kids seem so busy, so disinteresed, so blinded by all that life and their families throw at them. Not all of it bad, but it means I need to be more deliberate in my reaching out to them, more engaging because they don't live on the streets-they live in warm, comfortable
homes. Yet they need the love of Christ as well. They need to be challenged in their lethargy, in the midst of the pounding noise of adolescence and all the ways fighting to form them. They still need Christ.
"Finally, "abide in my love:" the Pope who tried to meet everyone, who had an ability to forgive and to open his heart to all, tells us once again today, with these words of the Lord, that "by abiding in the love of Christ we learn, at the school of Christ, the art of true love." Cardinal Ratzinger states this and he is right. By being loved by Christ, only by abiding in the heart of Christ can we learn how to love others. My fear cuts me off from experiencing the Love of Christ, it's no wonder loving the youth is a challenge for me lately. My answer, my challenge comes from the second reading from the Philippians, one the Pope lived so well: "Stand firm in the Lord in this way, my beloved!"
Cardinal Ratzinger quoted from the Pope's latest book
"In sacrificing himself for us all, Christ gave a new meaning to suffering, opening up a new dimension, a new order: the order of love ... It is this suffering which burns and consumes evil with the flame of love and draws forth even from sin a great flowering of good" (Page 189-190). Impelled by this vision, the Pope suffered and loved in communion with Christ, and that is why the message of his suffering and his silence proved so eloquent and so fruitful."
What a vision! What an example. What words that burn my conscience and heart and makes me wonder why I grumble so much about my life!! If I'm truly wanting others to know the heart of Christ, it will mean being burned by the love of God to "draw forth even from sin a great flowering of good". I ask to be holy, then I wonder why it's so painful!
There is much that will be said of this man in the future. There is a great deal that he spoke about and wrote about that we are just barely beginning to read much less understand. His impact will be felt for generations to come, as shown by the chanting of the crowd and I joined in "Magnus ! Magnus!" The Great! The Great!! And then I fell to my knees crying, like a child who has lost her beloved father.
As they picked up the casket of the body of my hero, my challenger, my witness to a life lived holy, loving, hopeful, sacrificial I was aware that:
In the darkness, a light flickered on. And it will shine for a very long time.
Karol Josef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, Papa . You have demanded my dignity as a human, as young person and as a woman. You have challenged me to think of the poor and needy. You have written great wisdom that I can't wait to devour and understand. Most importantly, you followed God's call "Follow Me". I long to follow as passinately as you did. Pray for me, now that you are most certainly in heaven (you've certainly had enough prayers said for you, you sure do know when to die to get the max in prayers, don't you!) that I would live as bravely and fully as you did. To never be afraid. In my tears, my selfish tears, I grieve losing your precious existance here on earth, but know that your life and your witness has remained. Pray for us!