About eight weeks ago, I had the opportunity to attend the Beatification Mass in Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, South Korea- along with 1 million of my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity; never did I imagine in my wildest of dreams that I would see the Pope in the flesh – and see him, I did.
Our parish Priest, Fr. Gus Coe, was able to secure seats that were a mere 100-150ft away. I was able to see Pope Francis at the altar from where I was seated. I was THAT close! As thePope-Mobile came into view, a tidal wave of emotions surfaced within me bringing with it tears. Tears of joy, gladness, wonder and awe in seeing the Holy Father before my very eyes. I was truly blessed in being here and extra blessed in being here with my husband to experience this, especially on our 15th wedding anniversary – and I am eternally grateful.
Let me take you back for a bit…
A year ago, my husband was somewhat “estranged” to our Catholic faith. It was difficult trying to show the kids our Catholic faith when my husband was apart from it, from us. I know that God heard my prayers because my husband eventually had a change of heart.
When the parish announced that seats to the Beatification Mass were still available, I jumped at the chance although I was a little anxious about it; on one hand, it was the chance to see and experience a Mass with the Pope, on the other hand, I was anxious about heat exposure (I have been known to pass out in hot weather). The Saints that were beatified must’ve been looking out for the one million who were at the Mass, for although it was bright and sunny, there was a cloud cover that kept us all cool.
We arrived at 4:30 am, the Mass started at 10 am and ended at noon; many of us were running on empty stomachs but barely noticed it as we felt the nourishment of mind, body and soul. God was definitely present that day, and I knew that just had to be open and listen to what he was telling me.
The Mass was conducted in Latin, Italian, and Korean (I did not understand what was being said, but I was able to figure out where we were during the liturgy). When it was time for Pope Francis’ homily (as it was in Italian, I still did not understand what was being said), so I reflected on the lives of those who were beatified as well as the lives of the Saints I thought of how much they had sacrificed for their faith, and wonder if I would have the courage to emulate that in my life. As I look at what is going on in the world and I see Christians being persecuted for their faith one common factor with those that were beatified and the Christians being persecuted today is that they are both from the laity; the foundation of the Catholic Church, the body of Christ. As laity, we are called to “spread the Good news,” otherwise known as evangelization; we are called to spread the knowledge of the Trinity while emulating Jesus Christ. Our vocation in life is to aspire to reach the goal to be in heaven and help others achieve that goal too. Whenever I think of that, I remember a passage in Scott and Kimberly Hahn’s book “Rome Sweet Home.” Scott had asked God to “help him help the Catholics;” the path that God showed him was different from the path he was thinking, yet it did result in him helping the best he could. So, when we look to God for the evangelization of his people, God has a path for us in mind. Though we may not get there in the way we plan, we will still get there for the greater good that he has planned amid the trials and tests we encounter. Remember, he allows it so that we can become stronger in our faith. My realization is with a resounding YES! I CAN emulate the Saints, through good works and faith I can be a catalyst for the change of hearts and my marriage is a testament. My husband and I have gone through the many trial and tests and I am sure many yet to come and it is through our trust in God that we will overcome and be stronger.
“Papal Mass in South Korea” contributed by Arlyn Agasen.