Card. Mahony on what the Pope’s visit did for him personally

If you haven’t seen this from the Archbishop of Los Angeles, His Eminence Roger Card. Mahony in The TidingsMy emphases, no comment:

Published: Friday, April 25, 2008
Reflection: The Pope’s Pastoral Visit
By Cardinal Roger M. Mahony

Pope Benedict XVI came as our Pastor and as our Shepherd, and he spoke to us of our most human joys and sorrows, our hopes and our failures. He came in the name of Jesus Christ and he reminded us "to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus" [Hebrews 12:2].

Our Holy Father did not hesitate to lift up for us challenges and difficulties which our Church was facing here in the United States, but he never left us alone with our failures and problems. He stood with us, acknowledged the shame of sinful behavior, and urged us forward in the name of our Risen Lord.

He openly spoke of the scourge of sexual misconduct on the part of clergy over these past decades, he visited with victims of that abuse, he reminded us of our immigrant roots and urged us to be present to today’s immigrant peoples and their plight, he spent quiet prayerful time at Ground Zero, he met with those young people suffering with physical disabilities, he spoke of the futility of violence and war, and he did not hesitate to alert us to the conflict between the Gospel of Jesus and our contemporary society.

But he never left us mired in our troubles and our difficulties. Rather, he pointed out time and again that God’s presence and grace are far more powerful than the forces of evil in the world. Again and again he led us to focus not on the pain and sufferings of our human failures, but rather, on the redeeming grace of our Risen Lord.

Time and again he led us back to our friendship with Jesus Christ, and urged us to recognize the presence, love, and mercy of Jesus surrounding us.

For me personally, the two most memorable moments of grace with our Holy Father were ones shrouded in quiet prayer, silence and few public words: his meeting with victims of sexual abuse in Washington, D.C., and his visit to Ground Zero in New York. Both of these events had the dignity of silence, the depth of sadness, and the promise of hope-filled prayer – and both captured deeply the most wounded parts of our Church and of our country.

Yes, the great outdoor Masses were inspiring, the meetings with ecumenical and interfaith leaders were moving, and the gathering with young people and seminarians was memorable. But the power of those times of quiet healing moved me more deeply than all the rest of the Holy Father’s many public appearances.

At first, I didn’t know why. After all, concelebrating Mass with the Pope and tens of thousands of people was surely uplifting and a source of joy for us all. Slowly the realization became real: those times of quiet healing grace were exactly what I needed at this time in my own journey of faith. My own mistakes and failures over the years had continued to burden me – a weight that I failed to realize was holding me down.

The gentle and quiet manner of Pope Benedict touched me in the most vulnerable depths of my soul. I felt uplifted by our Shepherd and my heavy burdens somehow seemed lighter. How did our Holy Father accomplish this? Through his consistent call to faithful discipleship in Jesus Christ, and his reassurance that we are truly saved by hope in our loving God! His recent Encyclical Letter, Spe Salvi [Saved by Hope], continues to point us forward and upward on our journeys. He does not allow us to remain mired in our sins and faults, but instead, kept repeating the call to "true freedom" in Jesus who has come as "the way, the truth, and the life" for each one of us.

I return to Los Angeles a different disciple of Jesus than when I left a week ago.
Thank you, Lord, for sending us not only the Vicar of Christ and the Successor of Peter, but also a brother and friend who knows Jesus personally and gave us six extraordinary days of grace and hope!

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