Willy Wonka and the Pope
When I first heard that Pope Benedict was going to be making a visit to the US, I went on-line and applied for tickets to see him at Yankee stadium. I had to apply through the Archdiocese of NY's website and then they said would contact my diocese here in PA. One month ago, there was an article in our local paper stating that there were no more tickets for the pope's visit and the Allentown Diocese had distributed all 100 of its allotted tickets. I was disappointed because I had hoped that my early application would have put me on the list. Oh well, I just had to offer it up.
Today the mailman came by and asked me to sign for a certified letter. Usually, when a doctor gets a certified letter, the first thought that comes to mind is "Oh no, not another lawsuit!"
When I saw the return address was from the Diocese of Allentown-Office of Vicar General, I breathed a sigh of relief. After all, how could I be in trouble with the bishop? (I don't think they read my blog :))
So as I ripped open the envelope and saw the two tickets (as seen above), I started to get teary eyed and ran to tell Prodigal Daughter of this great unexpected news. She said getting these golden tickets was like receiving the golden ticket in the chocolate bar from Willy Wonka, only better!
Why do us Catholics get so jazzed about seeing the pope? I think there are several reasons.
He represents the visible unity of the body of Christ. For where the bishop is, there is the Catholic Church.(St Ignatius, 107 AD) The bishop of Rome is the pre-eminent bishop of the Church and Christ's vicar. (See Isaiah 21 for the scripture Jesus was referring to in Matthew 18)
Why do I want to see the pope? For me personally, I think of the unbroken chain spanning almost 2000 years started when Jesus first gave the keys to Peter. When I participate in the Mass celebrated by Pope Benedict I will be seeing, in the flesh, the fulfillment of Christ's promise regarding this Church. Also, given Pope Benedict's age, this may be his first and last trip to the US and I don't see myself going to Rome anytime soon.
And where Peter is, there of a truth the gates of hell rage against the fellowship of the faith. There Marcion comes, and Arius, and the renaissance and rationalism, and the gospel of worldly culture. But still we abide in the Upper Room, gathered round our Lord and Master. Where Peter is, there is Christ.
For us Catholics, faith in the Son of God, loyalty to the Church, communion with Peter: these things stand in an intimate and necessary connection. And therefore since we desire not to abandon Christ, we do not abandon Peter. And therefore is it our quiet but confident hope, a hope set in our souls by our Lord at Caesarea Philippi, that it cannot be otherwise, that it must be so again, that all who seek Christ shall likewise again find Peter.
(Karl Adams, Spirit of Catholicism)