His presence was uplifting and his words were powerful. Pope Benedict won the hearts of New Yorkers during His last official act - the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium.
Pope Benedict XVI concluded his official visit to the United States with a Mass at Yankee Stadium in New York City. He left the Nation's Catholics with a message of hope, challenging them to move forward with a renewed passion for Christ and His Church.
NEW YORK (Catholic Online) – For the third time in history a Pope visited Yankee Stadium. At 2:21 pm Pope Benedict arrived, slowly driving past the stands filled with more than 57,000 cheering people who were waving yellow and white scarves, the colors of the Vatican.
The stadium, as with the National’s facility in Washington on Thursday, had been transformed from a baseball park to a church in just a few days for this special gathering. A raised platform over the infield was built so that it wouldn’t rest on the field below. The crest of the Holy Father was placed at the pitcher’s mound with yellow and white fabrics streaming outward to the rest of the platform.
Prior to the Pope’s arrival, a continual procession of priests, deacons, and bishops entered from both dugouts and proceeded to their seats on either side of the altar. As the clergy moved in procession, they were greeted cheers and shouts of encouragement from the crowds in the stands.
Rain had been predicted for New York earlier in the week, but the sun broke through the clouds as the Holy Father walked in procession with His Cardinals toward the altar. The crowd was much more subdued, knowing this was a time of worship, yet still periodically erupted with cheers.
Edward Cardinal Egan, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York, officially welcomed Pope Benedict to the city. Just before he concluded his remarks in Spanish, the Cardinal said, “Please know that your visit inspires and heightens in the hearts of all of us that ‘life-changing and life-sustaining hope’ about which you wrote in your Encyclical Letter with such depth and learning. We pray for the Bishop of Rome, the Supreme Pontiff, and the Vicar of Christ; and we promise to continue that prayer throughout the years that lie ahead with ever-greater love and hope.”
Cardinal then showed a chasuble that had been presented to him by the Pope during the Mass on Saturday morning. He told the crowd, “Come to St. Patrick’s next week to Mass… I’ll look really great!”
In his homily, the Pontiff referred to the readings for the Mass and talked of two words with which our contemporary culture has great difficulty – authority and obedience. Citing that we live in an era of personal freedom, the Pope pointed to the Gospel reading as a hope of true freedom, where St. John writes that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He pointed to the fact that both authority and obedience are necessary for freedom.
“The Gospel teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love,” the Pope shared. “Real freedom, then, is God's gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to his truth, the truth which makes us free.”
“Today's celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.”
Pope Benedict’s message focused strongly on the youth and particularly the impact they had made upon him Saturday at the rally. “Yesterday, not far from here, I was moved by the joy, the hope and the generous love of Christ which I saw on the faces of the many young people assembled in Dunwoodie. They are the Church's future, and they deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them. And so I wish to close by adding a special word of encouragement to them.”
Speaking directly to young people in the stadium, the Pope shared words of encouragement and challenge, “May you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, "the same, yesterday, and today and for ever" and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him.”
This was Pope Benedict’s final message in the United States, his last words to the Church’s faithful before departing for Rome later this evening. While not specifically mentioning the scandals, as he has in past messages, he built upon those previous messages and left the Catholics in our nation with a challenge.
“Dear friends, only God in his providence knows what works his grace has yet to bring forth in your lives and in the life of the Church in the United States. Yet Christ's promise fills us with sure hope. Let us now join our prayers to his, as living stones in that spiritual temple which is his one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us lift our eyes to him, for even now he is preparing for us a place in his Father's house. And empowered by his Holy Spirit, let us work with renewed zeal for the spread of his Kingdom.”
When the Pope finished his homily the crowds broke out again into cheers and shouts of love
Following the creed sung in Latin, the Prayers of the Faithful were offered in English, Italian, ...
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