Seeing our German Pope wear a Mexican charro style sombrero was definitely one of my favorite images of our Holy Father’s Apostolic visit to Mexico and Cuba the last few days. Sure, he wears a red, Italian styled Saturno that looks almost like a smaller sombrero, but it’s in keeping with tradition and it’s practical for those hot summer days in Rome. The images just make me smile.
It was nice that he showed a little of his personality outside of his proper, German ways. Naturally being an introvert, people sometimes find it harder to connect with Benedict XVI over the extroverted nature of the late, great John Paul II, but I pray that more people open up to our current Pope.
Benedict XVI’s visit to Mexico and Cuba was very unexpected, particularly because he even referred to his last trip to Brazil in 2007 as his only trip to Latin America. It seems as if he was unsure if he was able to make another trip beyond then. Brazil does have the largest population of Catholics in the world, but it also represents the only country in this hemisphere to speak Portuguese. His visit to Spanish-speaking countries this past week helped him create a new relationship with the rest of the large population of Catholics in Latin America.
His trip schedule and regular schedule are impressive. I hope that I have as much energy and his memory at the age of 84. I often complain that I don’t get enough sleep, but then I look at how much work he does and I suddenly feel lazy.
On a regular basis, he goes to bed around 10:30 or 11PM and wakes up around 5AM. If he’s not spending time in prayer or celebrating mass, the man is working hard to shepherd the church, promote Truth, and unite people from all over the world and all walks of faith.
Sometimes I wonder how he does it, but then I remember the Holy Spirit.
In his typical fashion, he spoke on every subject he could fit in and boldly addressed the current issues troubling Cuba and Mexico. Every time he gives a speech, homily, or message, I am always in awe of the immensity of wisdom in such compact phrases. This is one of the reasons why he is also one of my favorite authors. Here are some great quotes from his trip.
“Do not let yourselves be intimidated by the power of evil.”
-Farewell at airport in Mexico
“The church is not a political power, it is not a party, It is a moral reality, a moral power.”
-On flight to Mexico with journalist
“Follow Mary’s example and build your lives on the firm rock which is Jesus Christ, to work for justice, to be servants of charity and to persevere in the midst of trials.”
-Annunciation Mass in Cuba
“Christ’s kingdom does not stand on the power of his armies subduing others through force or violence. It rests on a higher power that wins over hearts: the love of God that he brought into the world with his sacrifice and the truth to which he bore witness.”
-After surveying Christ the King Monument in Leon
“Hold tight to Christ. Wherever he is present, discouragement yields to hope, goodness dispels uncertainties and a powerful force opens up the horizon to beneficial and unexpected possibilities.”
-Farewell from Cuba at airport
In times when many media outlets said that the Mexican people would not be open to this Pope, more than twice as many people expected came to celebrate mass with him in Leon. He came proclaiming the Gospel, and the people fell in love with him. They even came up with a chant yelling “Benedicto, Hermano, ya eres Mexicano,” meaning “Benedict, our brother, you’re now Mexican. It seems safe to say the people had no trouble warming up to him.
On the political side, he was even able to perform what many referred to as a “miracle.” He united the 3 presidential candidates up for election this July, President Calderon, and former-President Fox. All men of very different political standings.
I pray that the Pope’s words were heard, and that it was not just for political show. Especially the presidential candidate that was responsible for legalizing abortion and gay “marriages” in Mexico City recently.
It’s easy to get consumed with the local politics and forget that our neighbors to the south are also in an election year and facing even greater attacks on their faith and safety. The drug wars have hurt many families and has crossed over our borders too many times.
Let us pray that Pope Benedict XVI’s visit has invigorated the people’s faith to bring about a new time of peace. Praise God for a safe trip for our Holy Father. We put our intentions for the Pope and for the people of Mexico and Cuba in the hands of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
¡Viva el papa! ¡Viva Cristo Rey!