Pray for the Pope!
Almost twenty years ago I met Maria Esperanza on two occasions and two things stand out about those meetings: that she had a soft, airbrushed look about her, which I would almost describe as an aura, that spoke to me of her holiness, and that she repeated insistently, “pray for the Pope, pray for the Pope!” I can still hear her speaking those words, and her message is as urgent now as it was then, when the reigning pope was John Paul II.
The cause for the beatification of Maria Esperanza of Betania, Venezuela is progressing, with a priest of our own diocese, Fr. Timothy Byerley, the vice postulator for her cause. Her story is quite remarkable. Fr. Byerley has written a book about the Servant of God, Maria Esperanza, describing her holiness and the very many ways that God was active in her throughout her life. The book, Maria Esperanza and the Grace of Betania: God's plan for healing the family and society in the third millennium can be found here: http://www.mariaesperanzabio.com/maria-esperanza/74jgv1w5fbhg84z51gh7hp2jjkf50u . There is an astounding Eucharistic miracle connected to Betania, also. One can read about that here, http://www.dsanford.com/miraclehost.html.
Maria Esperanza’s plea to pray for the Pope was charged with urgency, but the Church has always exhorted us to pray for the man who is the visible Head of the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, one of the conditions for gaining an indulgence is to offer prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff. As Catholics, we are called to pray for the Pope and his intentions, as he carries the weight of not only the Church, but the world, on his shoulders and in his heart.
In these days of instant information and swift social media sharing, we hear sound bites from the Pope, often out of context, or filtered through the slanted perspective of those reporting. These can bring confusion to the casual listener and discussions about what he has said or what he may have meant can bring discord to believers. That is from the devil. What is needed is unity and the Pope has always worked towards unity. Let us cover him with our prayers, and learn to listen with a discerning and inspired heart. Pray to the Holy Spirit for the gift of understanding, so that, as the many diverse gathered pilgrims were able to understand St. Peter and the other apostles on the first Pentecost, we, too, will be able to understand his successor, Pope Francis, in light of the unchanging Truths of our Faith.
As we celebrate the Feast day of St. Peter, First Pope, on June 29, we can also invoke his help in being faithful followers of our Holy Father, and ask his intercession for him. God bless Pope Francis!
May 30, 2015