I’ve never watched a papal blessing or weekly Angelus before, but the extraordinary blessing Pope Francis offered Friday was not one I wanted to miss.
After all, I’m missing Mass. I’m missing Adoration. The suspension of all public activity is a bitter consequence of the novel coronavirus — and I pray that it minimizes the spread of the disease.
I have seen pictures of past papal events, though. There is always a crowd, even on a rainy day.
On Friday, there was no crowd in St. Peter’s Square. There was a pope. There was a priest. There was a crucifix.
The square was so empty, with only raindrops filling the space where people would gather to pray.
The Gospel told of another storm: a storm through which Jesus was sleeping until his distressed disciples woke him up and begged him to help them. And the wind and the sea obeyed (Mark 4:35-41).
As we struggle through the storm of fear, anger, isolation, uncertainty, and loss, we were reminded Friday that we do not struggle alone.
More eloquent than the Pope’s words: the silent moments of prayer.
The moments of reverence.
The Adoration Chapel at my church is temporarily closed. Being present — thanks to an internet connection — at Adoration and Benediction with the Pope was a reminder that I shouldn’t take my ability to attend Mass and Adoration for granted.
It is a gift to the faithful to be invited to a moment of private prayer made public.
It is a gift to know that our Pope, our bishops, our priests, pray for us and with us. That, too, is something we take for granted.
The scene of Pope Francis holding the monstrance and offering the triple blessing over an empty square was an unforgettable moment.
His words that day were a comfort (and you should read them all) but his actions were even more so.
“Why are you afraid? Have you no faith”? Faith begins when we realise we are in need of salvation. We are not self-sufficient; by ourselves we flounder: we need the Lord, like ancient navigators needed the stars. Let us invite Jesus into the boats of our lives. Let us hand over our fears to him so that he can conquer them. Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms, because with God life never dies. (from Pope Francis’ Urbi et Orbi message, March 27, 2020)
Read more about the miraculous crucifix venerated by Pope Francis during that moment.
Copyright 2020 Barb Szyszkiewicz