Pope Francis has made it up to New York and the United Nations. While in New York he had a busy day moving from place to place it all began Thursday night with Vespers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, on Friday morning Francis addressed the United Nations and in the evening he celebrated Mass at Madison Square Garden. Instead of single post for all these event it would be easier and best for all involved that these were a single posting.
Vespers: Pope Francis began by offering his prayers for those involved in the tragic events in Mecca where there was a stampede in which 700 people died and thousands were injured. Then Francis goes on with his regular remarks. Vespers were with the Religious so there is a significant tilt of this speech, but we all can benefit from these remarks. Pope Francis begins by reminding us all that our vocations is to be lived in joy. This is the important part, later on Francis expressed his gratitude to the religious women of the United States, asking “What would the Church be without you? Women of strength, fighters, with that spirit of courage which puts you in the front lines in the proclamation of the Gospel. To you, religious women, sisters and mothers of this people, I wish to say “thank you”, a big thank you… and to tell you that I love you very much.” This seems like a fitting end to the LCWR controversy which hung over most of the religious women in the United States for the past three years.
United Nations Address: Francis begins by remembering the previous time the Popes have come to speak at the UN noting “the appreciation expressed by my predecessors, in reaffirming the importance which the Catholic Church attaches to this Institution and the hope which she places in its activities.” Pope Francis also pull at the notion that the UN is one of the most important things in the past century and loves that it continues to evolve and adapt as time goes by. This is the environmental speech that we were waiting for with the upcoming Paris Climate thing, but Francis reminds us that words mean nothing and there need to be actions taken to try and curtail the “culture of waste.” From the environment Francis moves into the issue of human dignity and how everyone deserves it.
Madison Square Garden Mass: Pope Francis begins reflecting on the readings from Isaiah we heard that “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” and Francis relates this back to us saying that everyone from every age are called to contemplate this light. He continues “One special quality of God’s people is their ability to see, to contemplate, even in “moments of darkness”, the light which Christ brings. God’s faithful people can see, discern and contemplate his living presence in the midst of life, in the midst of the city.” The faithful can find the joy in the darkness. Francis then reflects on life in big cities and how it shows the remarkable riches of the world with the vastness of the cultures, traditions, languages and historical experiences. On the flip side of this greatness we still have the homeless, elderly, foreigners, individuals needing medical assistance and unschooled children are still at the fringes and these individuals become like white noise that we ignore with our eyes and in our hearts. Francis insists that this is where we can find God. The Pontiff then moves into the Gospels where Jesus constantly tells the disciples to go out and meet people where they are, not where we want them to be but as St. Teresa of Jesus tells us “God is in the pots and pans” we are never closer to our heavenly father then in the midst of our regular lives doing the mundane thing.