“Not to us, not to us, but to Your Name give glory.” Not to us, and not even to Benedict – but to You through him, Lord. As I write, a group with drums and tambourines is passing by outside, singing at top volume. The Poor Clares that live here and keep this Adoration chapel are likely more used to drive-by rap music than Spanish praise-and-worship – makes a nice change for them. It's prolly another Neo-Catechumenate group – you can't turn around for bumping into them today. (How they manage to stay so utterly off the radar the rest of the time, I truly do not know.)
It's what I wrote before – by honoring the Pope, we honor Christ. And yet – we are proud. As an Archdiocese (I'm still there in spirit), we've not had a papal visit in 30 years – and to have Benedict, not a traveler, choose to visit over his birthday – we are PROUD. (Fine, let NYC have him for the anniversary of his election – we have him for his birthday!) It's the same spirit of community you see at the March for Life, or World Youth Day, any time you get a massive crowd of Catholics together: we are not alone; we are united; no matter how bleak things seem, we still have Christ and Christian joy and hope. Hope – that is the theme of Benedict's visit, and it something so terribly lacking today. Even in many Christians. We don't know what it is; we don't encounter it in others; so we never miss it and we take pale imitations for the real thing. “The one who has hope lives differently” - but how many of us do? "Philip, have I been with you all this time and you still do not know Me?"
It takes a Benedict to unsettle our “getting-by”; it takes a Benedict to speak words of healing and pledge to remedy actions that have so wounded our Church here in America. Yes, that; but also the sorry state of Catholic education, particularly higher education. Eight years later, I'm still appalled at reading a news article on what Loyola University in Chicago considered appropriate for its orientation program – emphasis on the 'orientation'. In just a few hours, the Pope will be speaking to the heads of Catholic colleges and universities. We Catholics are meant to have hope – and so I hope that this sorry era in Catholic education will begin finally to come to a close. Benedict does not waste words. He does not say what he does not mean or intend to see happen. So – I hope.