Benedict’s last audience

Reporter Jessica Langdon of The Leaven, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, had an opportunity to talk to archdiocesan seminarians now in Rome.

Here is what Seminarian Luke Doyle (center, with Matt Rensch from the Diocese of Burlington, VT, left; and Agustin Martinez, right), who is attending the Pontifical North American College, had to say.

• “ I was able to attend the Holy Father’s last Angelus and his final public audience. I was also able to wave to him from the roof of the North American College as he flew overhead at the beginning of his flight to Castle Gandalfo.”

• “Tickets are normally required to attend a papal event, and the day before I worked alongside the Alma Sisters of Mercy who staff the U.S. Office for Visitors to the Vatican, passing out thousands of tickets for Pope Benedict’s final audience. While tickets are required to be in the “front” of the crowd (front being a relative term), the event was not an exclusive ticketed event. The sisters estimated 250,000 attended Pope Benedict’s final audience.”

• “The Pope seemed very much at peace. For as monumental as his decision is in the life of the Church, he seemed to be very much at peace with it, confidently knowing that he is following the desires of the Lord. He certainly has slowed down in his physical ability, but it was very apparent to me that he has not slowed down in the slightest in his intellectual abilities and in his zeal for the Lord and His Church.”

• “Perhaps this is the greatest testament to the universality of the Church! Pope Benedict delivered his address in Italian, and I was able to catch the gist of what he was saying. My Italian is not great, but I was able to understand his main points. Then, the chief pastor of the universal church spoke directly to pilgrims in 11 different languages, including German, Italian, French, English, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish, Romanian and Arabic! This is a great example of how seriously Pope Benedict took his responsibilities as universal shepherd of the Church. He spoke eight languages fluently at the time he was elected to the papacy, and since learned another three. He began studying Arabic at the age of 83, so he could be able to speak directly to many peoples under his spiritual care.”

• “The message I will most take away from Pope Benedict’s final audience came when he stated this:

‘One can touch what the Church is — not an organization, not an association for religious or humanitarian purposes, but s living body, a community of brothers and sisters in the Body of Christ, who unites us all. To experience the Church in this way and almost be able to touch with one’s hands the power of His truth and His love, is a source of joy, in a time in which many speak of its decline . . . Dear Friends! God guides His Church, maintains her always, and especially in difficult times. Let us never lose this vision of faith, which is the only true vision of the way of the Church and the world. In our heart, in the heart of each of you, let there be always the joyous certainty that the Lord is near, that He does not abandon us, that He is near to us and that He surrounds us with His love.’Image