Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Opus Dei students and young professionals prepare for Pope

Young people are very excited about the papal trip to the US, and some high school students that attend the means of formation in the centres of the Prelature are getting involved in the upbeat tone of support for B16. Here's an example of an article posted in the Catholic News Service. The story of preparing banners with motos such as Omnes cum Petro ad Jesum per Mariam (that's the complete version) and other Latin blurbs, reminds me of the visit of Pope John Paull II to Canada in 1984, when we spent hours painting similar banners and lining the papal route in Montreal and Toronto. They are simple expressions of enthusiastic unity with the Pope. I hope I'll spot one of them on TV during the coverage. The omnes cum Petro line is not exactly "an Opus Dei prayer" as the article below mentions, but comes from a passage in The Forge, no. 647, and is a reflection of Saint Josemaria's deep desire for Christian unity and which many members of Opus Dei have indeed converted in an aspiration and prayer.

By Angelo Stagnaro

Opus Dei is one of the Ecclesial Movements flourishing in the Church during this time of "New Evangelization"

NEW YORK (CNS) - Students and young professionals associated with Opus Dei gathered April 5 to get ready for Pope Benedict XVI's visit by creating banners and practicing cheers, chants and songs.

Headed by the high school students in the group, the banner-making party at Opus Dei's U.S. headquarters in New York prepared two pieces they hoped will attract the attention of the pope as he makes his way around the city.

They planned to carry the banners wherever they thought they might be able to see the pope from the street.

Opus Dei is a personal prelature founded in 1928 by St. Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer in Madrid, Spain. Its principle aim is to help people come closer to God in their work and everyday lives. It has 88,000 members worldwide, 3,000 in the United States.

"During this time of war, I really believe that the pope's visit will help Americans come to see what is the right response to our enemies," said Will Narduzzi, 15, a sophomore at Seton Hall Preparatory High School in West Orange, N.J.

Jim O'Toole, 15, said he believed the pope's visit will be a blessing for the country.

"He's a beacon to the world especially in terms of respect for life and humanity," he said in an interview.

One of the 30-foot banners portrayed the New York City skyline, and over the image were superimposed the words "Omnes cum Petro," referring to the need for all Christians to see the pope as the head of Christ's church. The words are from the opening of a common Opus Dei prayer.

The second banner showed the pope's coat of arms splayed across an American flag along with the words "Gratias tibi Benedictus XVI" ("Thank you, Pope Benedict").

Alvaro Aguirre, a 19-year-old Spaniard from Navarre and an undergraduate student at Manhattan College, was particularly enthused about Pope Benedict's visit.

"I feel pumped up!" said Aguirre. "I think that many young Catholics felt Pope Benedict would be an extreme intellectual incapable of speaking to youth.

"Of course, we've found the opposite to be true. The pope knows how to speak to us, how to make complex theological issues easily understandable to people without any particular academic training," he said.

John Wilson, 23, was very hopeful the pope will continue his message of engaging Islam and other religions.

"The effects of what he says and does may not be immediately obvious to us but I believe that five and 10 years down the road, they will be obvious to everyone," he said.

Before arriving in New York for his April 18-20 visit, the pope will attend an interfaith meeting April 17 in Washington. He will be in the nation's capital April 15-17. He will attend an ecumenical meeting in New York April 18.

Opus Dei officials expected approximately 250 high school boys from the New York City area to participate in their activities when the pope arrives, along with 50 from Boston, Chicago, Pittsburgh and Washington, and about 10 people from Guatemala. Plans called for daily Mass, prayer and a party.

Miguel Leonardo, 22, said he hoped the pope's visit would have a practical effect on the country.

"America struggles with its loss of a sense of morality in modern times. I believe the pope's visit will help renew our relationship with the pope and the church in general," he said.

Many of the students, especially those from out of town, did not have tickets to any of the New York papal events, and so they planned to pursue a "catch as catch can" strategy to see the pope.

Peter Scarby, 31, said he believed Pope Benedict's message would be poignantly felt by all Christians. "The pope has always been very ecumenically minded. His presence will spur dialogue among all Christians," he said.

Two Opus Dei priests, Fathers Robert Brisson and Javier Garcia, both administrators for the prelature on the national level, were scheduled to serve as television commentators during the pope's Yankee Stadium Mass.

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