'We Have Seen Incredible Things Today'
by Monsignor Charles M. Mangan
©Catholic Online 2005
Lux aeterna luceat ei, Domine: cum sanctis Tuis in aeternum, quia pius Es.
"May perpetual light shine upon him, O Lord, with Your Saints forever, because You are good."
So the famous Sistine Chapel Choir chanted during Friday's Funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square.
That one simple but profound sentence summed up for me the reason for participating in this historic Requiem: to pray that the Holy Father may inherit the gift of unending life with Jesus Christ in Heaven and to thank the Almighty for allowing us--indeed, the whole world--to benefit from the 26-plus years of Petrine ministry exercised by Karol Jozef Wojtyla, a humble Pole who knew the distressing agonies wrought by Nazism and Communism and who outlived his entire earthly family.
I, and countless others, struggled with competing emotions this week. On one hand, we confessed our sorrow at the passing of a great man who suffered considerably, not only from his personal physical maladies but also from the temporal and spiritual tribulations burdening the universe. On the other, we acknowledged our genuine joy that the Bishop of Rome has been freed from our terrestrial bonds in order to enjoy perfect union with the Most Blessed Trinity.
Perhaps the most touching moment for me, along with the reception of Holy Communion, was toward the end of the Mass. The cypress casket carrying the remains of the Holy Father was carried to the door of the Basilica while the Magnificat was being sung. The pallbearers halted and permitted the assembly to express its appreciation for Pope John Paul II. Sustained applause rang out, and copious tears flowed for seven minutes.
Just as the casket was to disappear inside the Basilica for burial in the Vatican Grottoes, a bright ray of the sun was noticed encompassing the wooden box.
Signs dotting the square and beyond unapologetically called for the instant canonization of the man being remembered: Santo Subito ("Saint Immediately"). The next Pope will decide if the process leading to Sainthood is to be altered.
After the Funeral, as I exited the square, I chatted with several members of the U.S. congressional delegation: Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., and his wife, Karyn; Rep. Bart Stupak, D-Mich.; and Rep. Chris Smith, R-N.J. Each felt honored to have attended the Sacred Rites for the deceased Pontiff, as did the Most Rev. Harry Flynn, the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.
The stirring Funeral initiated the nine days (Novendiali) of intense prayer and Holy Masses for the repose of the immortal soul of the Holy Father--a period that will conclude on Saturday, April 16, just two days before the beginning of the Conclave that will elect the next Pope.
As I walked home through the Eternal City, now filled with several million extra persons, many of whom hail from the pilgrim Pope's homeland, I couldn't help but ponder the words of those who witnessed Jesus' healing of the paralytic:
"We have seen incredible things today." (St. Luke 5:26)
From the Sioux Falls Argus Leader (April 9, 2005).
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Monsignor Charles M. Mangan - Official, 390 66616-1125
Pope John Paul II
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