Invitation to Pray

Urbi et Orbi

Earlier today, the Pope invited Christians around the world to pray with him. If you were unable to listen or watch as he delivered a special Urbi et Orbi blessing, you can read a full transcript of the address:

You can watch his delivery here:

Father Phil wrote a wonderful narrative following today’s blessing.

Urbi et Orbi.

The darkness would be unusual under any other circumstance.  The empty space too scandalous to behold.   Candles and fire overpowered the darkness.  A man dressed in white filled the empty space.  He stood solemnly reading.  Was there ever a sight of a lonelier man?  Yet he knew there were millions listening and watching.  Have we ever witnessed a more solemn scenario?

When he finished reading, he slowly walked up the stairs.  He moved to a side fresco of the Blessed Mother and prayed.  His thoughts?   Then he turned and walked to a crucifix.  Head bowed.  Were there tears?  Then, he walked into the Basilica toward a table just on the inside of the great doors. 

Music is heard.   Gregorian Chant.  Incense is burned.   Candles blazing.  Benediction.   The screen we were watching was alive!  On the bottom corner a Nun speaking to millions with sign language.  Everybody was included.  A frail man in white then gave the Urbi et Orbi blessing to the world.  What were your thoughts?

Mine were from the story of a young Native American boy being sent out into the forest one night, entering his initiation rites, and blindfolded, to pass the night alone and confront the fears.  The night passed slowly.  Every small sound, every rustle in the underground, intensified his terror.  What wild creature might be lurking all around him, and he would not be able to see them through his blindfold?   Worse, the fears of the supernatural came to haunt him.  What spirits (virus?) might be around and he would not know how to banish them.  And worst of all, an awareness of deep solitude invaded his heart and paralyzed him with fear.  Never in his young life had he been so alone, so defenseless, so utterly exposed.

When dawn finally broke, and one of the elders came to remove the boys blindfold, his relief was overwhelming.  And the very first thing he saw, sitting there among the nearby trees, was his own father.  He had been there all night, just a few yards away from his son, watching over him with a father’s love, and now rising and walking towards him to embrace him with a father’s pride.  (The story can be found in one of Margaret Silf’s Wisdom books.)

As we continue our “dark night of the soul” with the pandemic let us feel the embrace of a Father who is never far away.  Light a candle.