Pope Francis greeted several people and blessed children and the disabled on his way to Madison Square Garden's stage
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Following Pope Francis' visit to Our Lady Queen of Angels elementary school and the procession through Central Park, the pontiff arrived at Madison Square Garden where he delivered a mass focused on helping each other, recognizing we can break the cycle of anonymity and that we must love one another.
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New York City, NY (Catholic Online) -The pope blessed not only the children, but also the parents of each child. One teen with Down Syndrome was blessed and the look on his face was a clear indication of his pride and excitement. He immediately turned to his parents with a look of awe after the pontiff's blessing.
A choir performed as Pope Francis made his way to the stage and over 25,000 people were in attendance. 19,000 gathered within Madison Square Garden and 5,000 more stood outside to watch the mass on Jumbotrons.
When the clergy procession began, the choir perked up singing "Hallelujah." As members found their seats, the crowd bathed Pope Francis in the lights of their camera flashes.
The pontiff's mind was obviously separated from the presence of the crowd and singing choir. He seemed to be listening to what God had to say and was preparing himself for the mass.
Pope Francis began mass by leading confession before stepping aside for a cardinal to read from the book of Isaiah:
"Reading from the book of Isaiah, the people who walked in darkness had seen a great light . you have brought them a grateful joy . As they rejoice before you as at the harvest as people make merry when dividing spoils for the yolk ... a son is given us.
"They name him wonder councilor, God Hero, Father forever, Prince of Peace. His dominion is vast and forever peaceful from David's throne and over his kingdom, which he confirms and sustains by judgement and justice both now and forever, a zeal of the Lord of Hosts will do this, the Word of God."
The choir recited a hymn and Pope Francis stepped up to the pulpit, where he spoke of how God calls us to love:
"In this place, which represents both the variety and the common interests of so many different people, we have listened to the words 'the people walked in darkness have seen a great light.' The people who walked could have begun their activities and their routines amid their successes and failures, their worries and expectation. The people have seen a great light. The people who walked with all their joys and hopes, their disappointments and regrets, the people have seen a great light.
"The people of God are called in every age to contemplate this light. A light for the nations, this is what elderly Simeon joyfully expressed. A light meant to shine on every corner of the city, on our fellow citizens, on every part of our lives.
"The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light. 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. Together with the Prophet, we can say today the people who walk, breathe, and live in the midst of smog have seen a great light, have experienced a breath of fresh air.
"Living in a city is not always easy. In a multi-cultural context, presents many complex challenges that difficult to solve. The big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches in the presence of our world in cultures, traditions and cultural experiences.
"...Big cities bring together all the different ways in which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be. But big cities also conceal the faces of all those who don't appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath the rapid pace of change, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no right to be there, no right to be part of the city.
"The foreigners, the children who got without schooling, deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly, these people stand at the edges of our avenues and out streets in deafening anonymity.
"They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted in our eyes and especially in our hearts. Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is vitally part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation fills us with hope, a hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city.
"A hope which freezes from empty connections, from abstract analyses or sensationalist routines. A hope which is unafraid of involvement which acts as a leaven wherever we work or live, a hope that makes us see even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city because God is in our city.
"What is it like, this light traveling through our streets? How do we encounter god who lives with us amid the smog of our cities? How to encounter Jesus alive and at work in our daily life in our multi-cultural cities? Our prophet Isaiah can guide us in the process of learning to see. He presents Jesus to us as a light and now he presents to us Jesus as a wonderful councilor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.
"In this way, he introduces us to the life of the Son so that His life can be OUR life. Wonderful councilor, the gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask 'master, what can we do?'
"The first thing that Jesus does in response is to impose, encourage, to motivate. He keeps telling his disciples to go, go out. He urges them to go out, meet others where they really are, not where we think they would really be. Go out again and again, go out without fear or hesitation, go out and proclaim this joy which is for all the people.
"The mighty God, in Jesus God himself became Emmanuel, God be with us, the God who walks along with us and gets involved with our lives in our homes 'in the midst of our pots and pans' as St. Teresa liked to say. Our everlasting Father, no one or anything can separate us from His love.
"Go out and proclaim, go out and show that God is in your midst as a merciful father who , himself, goes out morning and evening to see if his son has returned home. And as soon as he sees him coming, runs out to embrace him. This is nice.
"An embrace, which wants to take up, purify, and elevate the dignity of his children, and Father who, in His embrace, is glad tiding s to the poor, healing to afflicted, healing to the captives, comfort to those who mourn. Prince of Peace.
"Go out to others and share the good news that God, Our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness and brings us to the school of encounter. He moves us from the fray of competition and self-absorption and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace, which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters.
"God is living in our cities. The church is living in our cities.
"And God and the church who live in our cities want to leaven the dough and enlighten everyone who stands by our side . the Mighty Councilor, the Prince of Peace. The people who walked in the darkness have seen a great light and we, Christians, are witnesses of that light."
At the conclusion of his speech, Pope Francis stood silently for a moment before returning to his seat, where he sat in silent prayer, leaving the announcer to as, "Let us reflect in silence for some brief moments."
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Following the silence, many speakers rose to pray in Gaelic, Italian, African, French and other languages as the choir sang.
The prayers included, "With the help of your mercy may we be free from sin" and "Lord Jesus Christ, who sent your apostles, my peace I give you. Look not on our sins but on the faith of your church and . grant peace and unity in accordance with your will . who live and reign for ever and ever. The peace of the Lord be with you always."
The offer of the sign of peace was announced and the thousands in attendance hugged the people next to them before Pope Francis blessed the communion. Several minutes of beautiful choir singing continued in the background as the entire crowd received communion. As the masses continued to receive communion, Pope Francis sat, head bowed in prayer, until the last person received their wafer.
The pontiff stood and said, "We pray Oh Lord the spirit of charity that sustained the boy ... of your only begotten son .. we may be effective in nurturing in all the peace that He has left us . for ever and ever."
Cardinal Dolan then stood and concluded the mass, saying:
"Papa Francisco, at every single mass, every single day, we pray for and in union with Francis our Saint Pope, and now here you are.
"It is clear how much we welcome you, how much we need you, how much thank you for your visit. You, you have seen our Cathedral. You have seen our cath... You seen our catholic school, charities, now you lead us in the most important and powerful act we can do: holy sacrifice of the mass.
"Here you see Papa Francisco, people from all of our parish. Our leaders, our sisters, our brothers, our seminarians, our deacons, our priests, our bishops, our organizations, our ministries, our economical neighbors . God's faithful people.
"It's so radiant on an evening like this is it not my brothers and sisters that God . it is so radiantly evident that God is our father that Jesus is our lord, savior, older brother, that Mary is our mother, that saints (applause) that saints like Isaac Jogues and North American martyrs . and St. Patrick, are our relatives.
It is so dazzlingly evident this evening that the church is our family and you, our holy father, thanks for visiting us, your family."
Pope Francis stood and, to the crowd, said, "The Lord be with you. Blessed is the name of the Lord. Our _ is in the name of the Lord. May the almighty Lord bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Go in Peace. Glorify the Lord by your life. And please, I ask you, don't forget to pray for me."
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