“Sleep with the angels.”
“Rise with the Saints.”
“Party with the Pope.”
This is a little nighttime saying that a past roommate and I would always recite, back and forth, as we fell asleep. The last one is obviously my favorite.
Party with the Pope!
A week after being at the canonizations of St. John Paul II and St. John XXIII, “party with the Pope” keeps resonating with me.
You want a party? Catholics will give you a party:
If you saw any of the coverage from the Vatican last week, you would have thought there was a massive party going on in St. Peter’s Square. Well, it was a Catholic party, which included a massive slumber party in the streets of Rome (approximately 500,000 camped out) and a Mass the next morning with over 1 million people in attendance.
“Ain’t no party like a Catholic party.”
We hear often that our faith has become “irrelevant” and that people are leaving the Catholic Church, and that young people are falling away from the Church and lack a faith life. Sure, there are people who have left the Church and there will still be some who choose to leave. And we all know young people who have “lost their faith” or left the Church in their college years. But, many of those who have “strayed”, end up returning. The Church continues to see a constant influx of “reverts” and converts.
In many ways, the Church is more of fire than ever, and continues to get stronger with each passing day. Consider the HHS Mandate and the activism surrounding it. So many Catholics have begun rising up, because they don’t want the government to tread on their faith and beliefs. Or think about the March for Life and how year-after-year hundreds of thousands of people (many of whom are Catholic) travel from all across America to march against the greatest human rights abuse of our time – abortion.
The Catholic Church continues to grow, with a record number of people entering the Church at Easter this year in Washington, D.C. and many other places. Vocations to the Priesthood are at a 20-year high and vocations continue to rise among young people. And events like World Youth Day are drawing record numbers of young people from every corner of the world to an event all about the faith. Last summer, millions of young people travelled to Brazil for World Youth Day.
Over a million people travelled to Rome last weekend for the canonizations in St. Peter’s Square. People came from all over the world to celebrate the lives of two amazing Popes and to participate in the Mass where they were named Saints. I can’t think of another organization or group of people that can gather that amount of people internationally for one event, even more amazing – a faith event.
The Church is not dead. In many ways, it’s more alive than ever.
St. John Paul II changed the world and inspired many in the Catholic faith, as well as many outside of it. He truly is the Saint of my generation and challenged us to be witnesses of the faith. He challenged each of us to be a light to this, often, dark world.
One of his most famous quotes, which was a cornerstone in the celebrations last weekend is,
“Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song.”
Although the media will claim that our Church is dwindling or people are losing faith, this is simply not true. The Catholic Church is more alive than ever. We may be attacked for our beliefs or mocked for our faith, but we are a part of a Church that has long sustained every effort to attack it and tear it down.
The Church is alive and more on fire than ever. Be a light to the world. Be a witness to the faith. And never be afraid to “party with the Pope.”