Lord Jesus, we are always so blest to have You with us here and now, especially in your gift of the Eucharist! Bless all those who minister to You at the altar: our Holy Father, Pope Francis; all cardinals, bishops and priests, seminarians, pastors and lay leaders. Let them know of our love and appreciation for their service to us, Your people.
Your people need you, Jesus. In our world there’s so much woundedness. We have become self-centered and self-seeking. Lead us out of ourselves, toward one another, and toward you!
Lord, bless our families, our parents, our children… Help those who are alone to know your presence and your mercy. Thank you for your Father’s plan to place each of us in the best family for us, with the parents and siblings that you have chosen for us, even when we question your plan. Heal us of all family division and spite, all hatred and anger, that we might experience your love for us and for others.
Lord, Jesus, so many marriages have been threatened by evil forces in our society today. Bring back together those who have vowed to love one another until death. Give wisdom to those who counsel the young and not so young who are preparing for marriage.
Lord Jesus, bless those with physical needs, especially those who were born with disabilities resulting from the care, or lack thereof, of those who came before them. Heal those who suffered from the care that they received, or didn’t receive, in their early years or before they were born. Heal those also with mental or psychological scars resulting from their early months or years.
Jesus, there’s a young woman in Colorado, “Jessica,” with four children under the age of seven. Jessica has cancer that has spread to four places in her body. Lord Jesus, restore her health, and protect their children!
Jesus, we at Elizabeth Ministry have great needs. You know, Jesus, our financial needs; inspire generous people to open their hearts and their wallets to share what they have with those of us in need. Have mercy, as well, Lord Jesus, on our staff members and volunteers, especially Bruce and Jeannie, that Jeannie may continue to experience your strength and healing.
Bless also, Lord Jesus, those who work with RECLAiM students, and, Jesus, bless those students themselves, and those who need to be set free from pornography’s lure. Touch their minds; heal them. Protect their marriages and their families!
Have mercy, Lord Jesus, on all those who have suffered and are suffering the pains of miscarriage and infant death. Show your mercy, Lord, on those who have intentionally brought about the death of their children. Bring those women and men back to you, that they might experience your great mercy.
Guide those who are unable to have their own natural children into the path you have chosen for them. We know, Jesus, that your plan is perfect and that none of us is abandoned or forgotten. Show your care also, Lord Jesus, for the many children around the world whose parents have been separated from them because of war or oppression.
Jesus, have mercy on our poor world. We need you so greatly!!! Guide us to Yourself, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. All these things we ask of You, with your Mother Mary, and all the Holy Ones who also intercede for us.
World Meeting of Families, Oh, My!!!
Have you heard all about the WMOF? Who of us hasn’t? Did you watch Pope Francis’ visit in Philly? Did you see him? (Better yet, Did He See You? Really, though! Who are we among so many?)
Did you hear him speak to Congress and the United Nations? My husband and I didn’t; we were too busy getting to and from Philadelphia ourselves!
It was actually our intent to help Jeannie and Bruce of Elizabeth Ministry manage an exhibit at the World Meeting of Families, that is, until Jeannie suffered a stroke last May. (Thank you for praying for her. Keep up the prayers!) Unfortunately the exhibit needed to be cancelled, but we opted to attend anyway as participants.
Often when we travel, we tow our 24′ travel trailer and camp along the way. All was predictable until–halfway across Pennsylvania–we began to see some interesting signage: “POPE VISIT TO PHILADELPHIA SEPT 26-27 — EXPECT DELAYS — FIND ALTERNATE ROUTES.” Our plans included a reservation at a campground in New Jersey, which was near several strong Elizabeth Ministry chapters and leaders, and we reached our destination without difficulty.
Traveling into Philly’s Central City was more complicated since it included mass transit. Again the signs: “Pope Visits Sept 26-27. Find Alternate Routes!” We had enough of a challenge finding the shortest route to the Convention Center. Coming up from a subway and saying, “OK, this is where we are; where do we need to be?” reminded us of something out of Shakespeare: To be or not to be…!
The next undertaking, after reaching the three-city block Convention Center, was getting our IDs and materials. We found ourselves that Monday, September 21st, among hundreds of people from many countries and languages, but also found many well-labeled booths confirming registration forms and handing out to each pre-registered person a lanyard with one’s name and city/state/country of residence, a bright green t-shirt (of chosen size), and a clear vinyl backpack, which included a rain poncho, a program book (in English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, and Vietnamese) listing the keynote speakers and breakout sessions, an exhibitor directory (listing about 350 exhibitors!), a Magnificat booklet for the liturgies, a greatly needed map of the Convention Center, a SEPTA mass transit pass, and numerous freebies. As we put the lanyards and backpacks into use, we suddenly became cousins to hundreds of people as we visited some of the local sights. Thus began the adventure!
Some said the highlight of the week would be the Papal Mass on Sunday; for this writer, the highlight was each day’s Eucharist! Picture this and see the Heavenly Gathering from Revelation 7:9, “After this I saw before me a huge crowd which no one could count from every nation and race, people and tongue.” OK, perhaps this wasn’t every nation and every race at the WMOF, but it was a huge crowd estimated at 17,000, with many hues of complexion, couples with children or without, singles, clergy, young, older, hearing impaired, vision impaired, those with wheelchairs, strollers, walkers, mobility scooters. Those who didn’t understand English were given a small receiver to listen in their needed language. There were several jumbo-screens (captioned) in the main gathering area.
One of the first images we saw was of the entrance procession of bishops upon bishops! Cardinals! Miters and purple or red zucchetti (bishop’s skull caps), one after another…! Organ and choir! The song, “Sound the Bell of Holy Freedom,” was repeated (all six verses) four times (with organ interludes) to have all the clergymen enter. What a glorious sight!
One family who sat in front of us had four young children, well-behaved but characteristically squirmy, one babe in a front pack, one on dad’s lap, one in a stroller (sometimes!), one quietly seated (sometimes!). Another family who sat nearby had two children, and the mother blind. At one point during the Mass, an adventurous new toddler found her way along the aisle while many aunties watched her and eventually steered her back the way she had come. There were sisters/nuns in all sorts of habits. One group of sisters near us was from Ecuador. At one point there was a priest seated beside us. When I asked him where he was from, I understood Maui, and he corrected me: “No! Ma-LA-wi!! In Africa!”, for which I needed to consult my smartphone to help me discern the location.
Again, who are we among so many?
After each day’s Mass or keynote speaker, the crowds jumbled joyously into the hallways on their way to the breakout sessions, lunch, or exhibit hall. On one occasion, when the long escalator was congested, we opted to take the elevator and met a woman there who asked about the Elizabeth Ministry button I was wearing. She, Alaina, was an Elizabeth Minister from a chapter in the Carolinas, and as she gave me her first name, I was able to supply her last! Natural sisterhood! It’s a small world after all!
Here are a few of many, many tidbits of wisdom that we gleaned:
- God’s nature is to be a family in the Trinity, Father and Son in the love of the Spirit. Male and female, distinct and united in a family, mirror God’s own family/Trinity. The family is the most important infrastructure/resource for society. Adam’s act of eating the forbidden fruit was his “Amen” to the catechesis of the Devil: “God is not love.”
- Man is made in the image of God; “Imago Dei”; no philosophy or religion upholds man more than Christianity. The family is the place where the “Imago Dei/Image of God” is brought to light. The Church has extravagant demands coupled with extravagant mercy. God’s law frees us to be who we are meant to be: “the Image of God.”
- According to “divine intelligibility”, with God at his side, Adam named the animals according to their natures. We cannot make creation, or for that matter, ourselves, whatever we want ourselves to be. God has made us who we are.
- Adam/human is designated as priest [to praise God aright], prophet [to tell the truth about creation], and king [to bring God’s good order to the whole world]. The king is to tend the garden as well as to go on campaign. See the troubles David got into when he should have been out on campaign! As kings, we are meant to “edenize” the world. (We can compare this to the Hannemann’s thought of “Restoring Eden”)
- We must never privatize religion; every aspect of the City in the Book of Revelation is ordered to God. One of the greatest dangers is putting the Church’s magisterium in a box. Let the light shine! We MUST tell others what we know about God’s great love.
- God made us to come from parents. God designed us and assigned us our specific family, specific for each person’s needs. We are meant to learn sacrificial love within our family. (Where there is no family relationship, sacrificial love is not readily learned.)
- Human sexuality is meant to be an expression of love; we are not “exhibition merchandise.” Regarding sexuality, women need to hold men to a higher standard. “Show me now that you have the strength to be faithful to me ‘until death do us part’.”
- A fifty dollar bill kicked around is still worth $50. We don’t lose our value as human beings even if we’ve been kicked around. All of us have been ‘kicked around.’ We can learn virtue through difficulties. Patience, for example. (Have you ever had to wait at the DMV?)
- Jesus, the Wounded One, came into the world to heal the wounded. Jesus is both the Good Samaritan as well as the man wounded by robbers. Like Jesus, we need to go out into the world also to heal the wounded. We the Church are to carry the paralytic, as in Mark 2, to Jesus for healing.
As we go out now, will we have the courage to wear our “World Meeting of Families” shirts, or the “Ours is the Generation to End Abortion” shirts? Will we display our “Let God Plan Parenthood” bumper stickers? Will we treat each person we meet as our brother, cousin or aunt, the one from Omaha or inner-city Camden? Will we treat the man on the street corner as our brother, or will we look away? Are we bold enough to be God’s children, members of his family, sharing a drink of cold water, or clothing the naked when you see them?
As the loaves that Jesus broke to feed the hungry, we ask ourselves, “What are these among so many?” Who ARE we among so many?
Lord, use us! Let each of us, as a member of your family, truly be the “one among so many!”