St. Peter's Becomes Window of Universal Church

Papal Mass for Pentecost Reflects Unity in Diversity

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By Carmen Elena Villa

ROME, MAY 23, 2010 ( Benedict XVI today affirmed local Churches should always be in harmony with the one, universal Church, in a unity created by the Holy Spirit.

The faithful gathered for the Mass at St. Peter’s were themselves a window into the fulfillment of his words, pronounced during the homily for today’s Pentecost Mass.

Doris Meier, a Swiss philosophy student at the Angelicum in Rome, shared with ZENIT her impressions as she left the Mass.

The Pope, she said, «did not speak for himself, and even less in an authoritarian manner. Instead, he has spoken with the truth, for Catholics, as one Church.»

Meier recounted that she’s been attending the ceremonies led by Benedict XVI since she arrived to Rome last October — «because I see more concretely how to live the liturgy with so many people, so well prepared, and never losing the sense of prayer,» she explained.

Also, the student added, «because it is necessary to support [the Pope] and tell him that what he does is good.»

Benedict XVI’s entrance procession in St. Peter’s Basilica was accompanied by the adult and child male voices of the Sistine Chapel intoning «Tu es Petrus.»

The Holy Father stopped along the way to greet some of the faithful, most of whom had arrived hours before to seek a good spot at the Mass. Their faces reflected the surprise and excitement at having unexpectedly been able to greet the Pope.

As is customary, the Mass readings and prayers of the faithful were read in various languages, showing the universality of the Catholic faith. Today’s languages were English, Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, German, Russian and Chinese.

The Liturgy of the Eucharist began with the offering of the gifts as the choir sang a hymn based in Psalm 67. Eleven people, including religious and laity, brought the gifts to the altar to give them personally to Benedict XVI, interchanging a few words with him.

Beyond words

Immediately following the Mass, the Pontiff went to his study to pray the last midday Regina Caeli of this year — since Pentecost concludes the Easter season — from the window overlooking St. Peter’s Square.

There, thousands of faithful awaited him in the warmth typical of a late Roman spring.

Spaniard Eva Rodrigo — one of the many faithful who participated in the Mass and the praying of the Regina Caeli — said she experienced firsthand the diversity of charisms.

«I came with a Portuguese friend and a Swiss one, and we were surrounded by French, English and Brazilians,» she said, «such that when we gave the sign of peace, it was beautiful because each one said the words in his own language, but always it was the peace of Christ.»

Rodrigo, who came to Rome for a semester as an exchange student at the Sapienza University, affirmed, «Christianity does not belong to any one particular culture; it is not something exclusive to the West.»

She made this reflection in reference to the Holy Father’s affirmation in the homily regarding the necessary autonomy of the Church.

«I very much liked it when the Pope referred in his homily to the fact that the Catholic faith cannot be identified with states or culture,» Rodrigo said, «but that Christianity goes beyond any social structure.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Text of papal homily:

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