Sunday, April 20, 2008
REFLECTION OF POPE'S VISIT
This is so beautiful I don't want to ruin it with words. Give this a listen and be inspired. Pope Benedict is clearly moved by the performance as am I. God sometimes reveals his presence to us.
I loved the fact that the Pope was able to reach so many people. When he was elected so many of us thought that he was a transitional pope. In other words, he would be around for a little while until someone more consequential would be elected. What Ratzinger did this week was energize the church. He energized the people including me and he was a force for peace and love during his visit. I would love to think that what the Holy Father said verified the religiosity of America. But that probably isn't the case.
America is a religious country. Over 90% of Americans call themselves Christians. The visit of the Pope tapped into that religiosity. All you had to do was watch his visit on TV and you were overwhelmed by the love you saw in the faithful. I love the church, but I was turned off by the sex scandals. I tried to get by it, but I couldn't. I fell away from my church. Then Benedict came to America. My mother told me that he was a German and he would understand the oppression of faith. Both my great-grandparents came to America to escape religious oppression. My great-grandmother came from Koblenz in 1885 and my great-grandfather came from Saxony in 1887. Both were Catholics in a country of a shrinking Catholic population. Martin Luther after all, was a German and a Catholic and he launched the Protestant Reformation.
The history of America is religious. Some of the first Europeans to emigrate to America came for religious freedom. Maryland was a colony started by Lord Baltimore for Catholics fleeing the religious persecution of 17th Century England. While the Puritans were not Catholics, they did flee Europe for religious freedom. They were Separatists who felt that reforming the Church of England was not possible requiring them to flee the persecution. America in its earliest history was that of a religious refuge against persecution. That is a proud history. Sadly, that proud history is fading.
Despite all this religious history, America is fast becoming an irreligious country. The secular progressives are gaining the upper hand against those of us who call ourselves religious. The beauty of America lies in the fact that while we are a religious people, we are not an intolerant people. Starting with the Act of Toleration of 1649 and moving forward, we have accepted many ways of worshipping.
Today, we are now confronted with the repression and denigration of religion, especially Christian. I cannot defend the excesses of Western European peoples. I can, however, defend the great effects on the societies of the world brought about by them. Democracy, religious freedom, societal mobility, and liberal education, that includes the concept of a social contract and natural rights, are but a few of the European ideals that have shaped our society.
These are a few of the thoughts I have as I watch Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, speak and charm thousands of Catholics, me included. He has made me proud of my heritage, and more importantly my religion.
I miss him already and await his return.