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The UNITED STATES of AMERICA

Pope Paul VI was a pilgrim to the USA in 1965. Saint John Paul II followed in his footsteps, traveling in America 7 times: in 1979, 1981, 1984, 1987, 1993 for World Youth Day Denver, 1995 and 1999. Papa Benedict XVI made a pilgrimage to the US in 2008.

So many Americans have generously given their response to a Totus2us podcast (a great witness to the wonderful faith among America's young people), they are shown here alphabetically by Christian name:
beginning with A - D and E - I and J - P and R - Z
- many thanks to you all   ♥

In 1939, Pope Pius XII wrote Sertum Laetitiae, an encyclical on the 150th anniversary of the establishment of the hierarchy in the US.

If you'd like to visit a Catholic Church or know more about what's going on in your area, a good place to find out more on the web are the diocesan websites. All in, there are 145 Latin Catholic dioceses, 33 Latin Catholic archdioceses, 15 Eastern Catholic dioceses, 2 Eastern Catholic archdioceses & 1 apostolic exarchate for Syro-Malankara Catholic Church dioceses in the USA - links here.

To download the free mp3 audio recordings individually, right click on the play buttons 

Saint John Paul II's Prayer to Mary at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception
Washington - Sunday, 7 October 1979 - in English, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"This Shrine speaks to us with the voice of all America, with the voice of all the sons and daughters of America, who have come here from the various countries of the Old World. When they came, they brought with them in their hearts the same love for the Mother of God that was a characteristic of their ancestors and of themselves in their native lands. These people, speaking different languages, coming from different backgrounds of history and tradition in their own countries, came together around the heart of a Mother whom they all had in common. While their faith in Christ made all of them aware of being the one People of God, this awareness became all the more vivid through the presence of the Mother in the work of Christ and the Church.

Today, as I thank you, Mother, for this presence of yours in the midst of the men and women of this land — a presence which has lasted 200 years — giving a new form to their social and civic lives in the United States, I commend them all to your Immaculate Heart.

With gratitude and joy I recall that you have been honored as Patroness of the United States, under the title of your Immaculate Conception, since the days of the Sixth Provincial Council of Baltimore in 1846.

I commend to you, Mother of Christ, and I entrust to you the Catholic Church: the Bishops, priests, deacons, individual religious and religious institutes, the seminarians, vocations, and the apostolate of the laity in its various aspects.

In a special way, I entrust to you the well-being of the Christian families of this country, the innocence of children, the future of the young, the vocation of single men and women. I ask you to communicate to all the women of the United States a deep sharing in the joy that you experienced in your closeness to Jesus Christ, your Son. I ask you to preserve all of them in freedom from sin and evil, like the freedom which was yours in a unique way from that moment of supreme liberation in your Immaculate Conception.

I entrust to you the great work of ecumenism here, in this land, in which those who confess Christ belong to different Churches and communions. I do this in order that the words of Christ's prayer may be fulfilled: "That they may be one". I entrust to you the consciences of men and women and the voice of public opinion, in order that they may not be opposed to the law of God but follow it as the fount of truth and good.

I add to this, Mother, the great cause of justice and peace in the modern world, in order that the force and energy of love may prevail over hatred and destructiveness, and in order that the children of light may not lack concern for the welfare of the whole human family.

Mother, I commend and entrust to you all that goes to make up earthly progress, asking that it should not be onesided, but that it should create conditions for the full spiritual advancement of individuals, families, communities and nations. I commend to you the poor, the suffering, the sick and the handicapped, the aging and the dying. I ask you to reconcile those in sin, to heal those in pain, and to uplift those who have lost their hope and joy. Show to those who struggle in doubt the light of Christ your Son.

Bishops of the Church in the United States have chosen your Immaculate Conception as the mystery to hold the patronage over the people of God in this land. May the hope contained in this mystery overcome sin and be shared by all the sons and daughters of America, and also by the whole human family. At a time when the struggle between good and evil, between evangelical love and the prince of darkness and father of lies is growing more acute, may the light of your Immaculate Conception show to all the way to grace and to salvation. Amen."

Papa Benedict's words about his apostolic pilgrimage to the USA
St Peter's Square, General Audience, 30 April 2008 - in Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Although several days have already passed since my return, I would like, nevertheless, to devote today's Catechesis, as usual, to the Apostolic Journey I made to the United Nations Organizations and to the United States of America from 15 to 21 April. I first of all renew the expression of my most heartfelt gratitude to the US Bishops' Conference, and likewise to President Bush for having invited me, and for the warm welcome they gave me. I would like, however, to extend my "thank you" to all those in Washington and in New York who came to greet me and to express their love for the Pope, or who accompanied and sustained me with their prayers and the offering of their sacrifices. As is well known, the occasion of the Visit was the 200th anniversary of the elevation of the Country's first Diocese - Baltimore - to a metropolitan Archdiocese and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. On this characteristically ecclesial occasion, I therefore had the joy of going in person, for the first time as Successor of Peter, to visit the beloved People of the USA, to strengthen Catholics in the faith, to renew and to increase brotherhood among all Christians and to proclaim to all the message of "Christ our Hope" which resounds as the motto of my journey.

During the meeting with the President at his residence, I was able to pay tribute to this great Country which was built from the outset on the foundations of a felicitous combination of religious, ethical and political principles which still constitute a valid example of healthy secularism where the religious dimension, with the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but appreciated as the Nation's "soul" and a fundamental guarantee of human rights and duties. In this context the Church can carry out her mission of evangelization and human promotion with freedom and commitment and also as a "critical conscience". She thus contributes to building a society worthy of the human person and, at the same time, encourages a Country such as the US - to which everyone looks as to one of the principal actors on the international stage - toward global solidarity, ever more necessary and urgent, and the patient exercise of dialogue in international relations.

Naturally the mission and role of the ecclesial Community were the focus of the Meeting with the Bishops, which was held at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington. In the liturgical context of Vespers, we praised the Lord for the progress made by the People of God in the US, for the zeal of its Pastors and the fervour and generosity of its faithful. This is expressed in the high and candid esteem in which faith is held and in countless charitable and humanitarian initiatives, at home and abroad. At the same time, I supported my Brothers in the Episcopate in their far from easy task of sowing the Gospel in a society marked by many contradictions, which even threaten the coherence of Catholics and the clergy themselves. I encouraged them to make their voice heard on the current moral and social issues and to form the lay faithful to be good "leaven" in the civil community, starting with the fundamental cell which is the family. In this regard I urged them to repropose the Sacrament of Marriage as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural context for welcoming and raising children. The Church and the family, together with school, especially schools of Christian inspiration - must cooperate in order to offer young people a sound moral education, but in this task those who work in communications and entertainment also have a great responsibility. In thinking of the painful matter of the sexual abuse of minors committed by ordained ministers, I wanted to express my closeness to the Bishops, encouraging them in their endeavour to bind up the wounds and to strengthen relations with their priests. In responding to some of the questions the Bishops asked, I took the opportunity to stress several important aspects: the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and "natural law"; a healthy conception of freedom that is understood and realized in love; the ecclesial dimension of Christian experience; the need for a new way to proclaim "salvation" as fullness of life, especially to young people, and to teach prayer, from which generous responses to the Lord's call germinate.

In the great and festive Eucharistic Celebration at Nationals Park Stadium in Washington we invoked the Holy Spirit upon the whole Church in the USA so that, firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by the Fathers and profoundly united and renewed, she may face present and future challenges with courage and hope, the hope that "does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5: 5). One of these challenges is certainly that of education. I therefore met at the Catholic University of America the Rectors of Catholic universities and colleges, diocesan heads of teaching and representatives of teachers and students. The duty to educate is an integral part of the Church's mission and the American ecclesial community is increasingly involved in it, at the same time rendering an important social and cultural service to the entire Country. It is important that this service continue, and it is likewise important to care for the quality of Catholic institutes so that in them people may truly be formed in accordance with "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (cf Eph 4: 13), combining faith and reason, freedom and truth. Thus with joy I strengthened teachers in their precious task of intellectual charity.

In a Country with a multicultural vocation such as the USA the meetings with the representatives of other religions have acquired special importance: in Washington, at the John Paul II Cultural Center, with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains; in New York, the visit to the Synagogue. These were very cordial moments, especially the latter, which confirmed the common commitment to dialogue, and to the promotion of peace and of spiritual and moral values. In what can be considered the homeland of religious freedom, I wanted to recall that the latter should always be defended with united efforts, to avoid any form of discrimination and prejudice. And I emphasized the great responsibility of religious leaders both in teaching respect and non-violence, as well as keeping alive the deepest questions of the human conscience. The ecumenical celebration in Parish Church of St Joseph was also marked by great cordiality. Together we prayed the Lord to increase in Christians the ability to account, with ever greater unity, for the one great hope that is in them (cf I Pt 3: 15) through their common faith in Jesus Christ.

Another important objective of my journey was the Visit to the Headquarters of the UN, the fourth visit of a Pope after Paul VI's in 1965 and the two visits of John Paul II in 1979 and 1995. On the 60th anniversary of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" Providence gave me the opportunity to confirm the value of this Charter at the broadest and most authoritative supra-national Assembly. I referred to its universal foundations, that is, the dignity of the human person, created by God in his image and likeness so that he might cooperate in the world with God's great plan of life and peace. Like peace, respect for human rights is also rooted in "justice", in other words, in a valid ethical order for all epochs and all peoples, which can be summarized in the famous maxim: "Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you" or, expressed in a positive form in Jesus' words: "Treat others the way you would have them treat you" (Mt 7: 12). On this basis, which constitutes the Holy See's characteristic contribution to the United Nations Organization, I renewed and I renew again today the effective commitment of the Catholic Church to contribute to strengthening international relations marked by the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

The other moments of my stay in New York also remain deeply impressed on my heart. In St Patrick's Cathedral, in the heart of Manhattan - truly a "house of prayer for all peoples" I celebrated Holy Mass for priests and consecrated people who came from every part of the Country. I shall never forget the great warmth with which they congratulated me on the 3rd anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter. It was a moving moment in which I experienced in a tangible way all of the Church's support for my ministry. I can say the same about the meeting with young people and seminarians at the docesan seminary which was preceded by a very significant stop among disabled children and young people with their relatives. To the youth, who by their nature thirst for truth and love, I proposed several outstanding men and women who bore an exemplary witness to the Gospel in American territory, the Gospel of truth which makes them free in love, in service and in a life spent for others. By coming to grips with the problems that threaten young people today, they can find in the saints the light that dispels this darkness: the light of Christ, hope for every person! This hope, stronger than sin and death, enlivened the moment charged with emotion that I spent in silence in the abyss of Ground Zero, where I lit a candle, praying for all the victims of that terrible tragedy. Lastly, my Visit culminated in the Eucharistic celebration in New York's Yankee Stadium: I still carry in my heart that celebration of faith and brotherhood with which we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the oldest dioceses in North America. Enriched with faith and with the traditions of successive waves of immigrants, the little flock of the origins has developed enormously. To that Church, which now faces the challenges of the present time, I had the joy of proclaiming anew "Christ our Hope" yesterday, today, and always.

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in thanksgiving for the comforting success of this Apostolic Visit and in asking God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to make it bear a fruitful harvest for the Church in America and in every part of the world."

John Paul II's reflection on his 1999 pilgrimage to Mexico & the USA
General Audience, Wednesday 10 February 1999 - in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. I still have vivid impressions of my recent pilgrimage to Mexico and the United States, on which I want to reflect today.

Gratitude to the Lord flows spontaneously from my soul: in his providence he wanted me to return to America, exactly 20 years after my first international journey, to conclude at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe the Special Assembly for America of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican at the end of 1997. From this Assembly - as I did for Africa and will also do for Asia, Oceania and Europe - I gathered the analyses and suggestions into an Apostolic Exhortation entitled Ecclesia in America, which in Mexico City I officially presented to those to whom it is addressed.

Today I would like to express again my most heartfelt thanks to those who helped organize this pilgrimage. First of all, I am grateful to the Presidents of Mexico and the United States of America, who welcomed me with great courtesy; to the Archbishops of Mexico City and St Louis and to my other venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, who gave me an affectionate welcome. I also thank the priests, the religious and the countless brothers and sisters who accompanied me with such faith and warmth during those days of grace. Together we had the moving experience of an "encounter with the living Jesus Christ, the way to conversion, communion and solidarity".

2. I have laid the fruits of the first pan-American Synod in history at the feet of Our Lady of Guadalupe, under whose maternal protection the evangelization of the New World advanced. She is rightly invoked today as the Star of its new evangelization. This is why I decided that the liturgical celebration dedicated to her, 12 December, should be extended throughout the American continent as a feast.

The Church in America accepted the Good News of the Gospel after Our Lady's example, and, in the span of almost five centuries, gave birth to many peoples in the faith. Now - as the motto of the visit to Mexico said: "A millennium is born: Let us reaffirm our faith" - the Christian communities of the North, the Centre, the South and the Caribbean are called to renew their faith in order to develop an ever stronger solidarity. They are invited to collaborate in coordinated pastoral projects, each contributing his own spiritual and material riches to the common effort.

Of course, this spirit of cooperation is also indispensable at the civil level and therefore requires shared ethical foundations, as I had occasion to emphasize at my meeting with the Diplomatic Corps in Mexico.

3. Christians are the "light" and "soul" of the world: I recalled this truth to the immense crowd which gathered for the Eucharistic celebration on Sunday at the racetrack in the Mexican capital. To everyone, especially the young people, I made the appeal contained in the Great Jubilee: repent and follow Christ. Mexicans responded with their unmistakable enthusiasm to the Pope's invitation, and on their faces, in their ardent faith, in their convinced commitment to the Gospel of life, I once again saw consoling signs of hope for the vast American continent.

I also experienced these signs firsthand at the meeting with the world of suffering, where love and human solidarity bring to weakness the strength and concern of the risen Christ.

In Mexico City, the Azteca Stadium, famous for memorable sporting events, was the scene of an extraordinary moment of prayer and celebration with representatives of all the generations of the 20th century, from the oldest to the youngest: a marvellous proof of how faith is able to unite generations and respond to the challenges of every season of life.

In this passing of the century and the millennium, the Church in America and throughout the world sees in young Christians the most beautiful and promising fruits of her work and her suffering. I am overjoyed to have met a great number of young people both in Mexico and in the United States. With their participation, full of enthusiasm but also attentive and anxious, with their applause for the passages of the speech in which I presented the most demanding aspects of the Christian message, they showed their desire to take the lead in a new season of courageous witness, active solidarity and generous commitment to the service of the Gospel.

4. I am pleased to add that I found American Catholics very concerned and committed to the defence of life and the family, inseparable values which are a great challenge for the present and future of humanity. In a certain sense, my journey was a great appeal to America to accept the Gospel of life and the family in order to reject and combat any form of violence against the human person, from conception to natural death, with moral consistency. No to abortion and to euthanasia; enough of the unnecessary recourse to the death penalty; no to racism and to the exploitation of children, women and indigenous peoples; put an end to the arms trade, to drug trafficking and to the destruction of the environmental patrimony!

To win these battles, we must spread the culture of life, which does not separate freedom and truth. The Church works each day for this by proclaiming Christ, the truth about God and the truth about man. She is particularly active in families, which are sanctuaries of life and fundamental schools for the culture of life: it is in the family that freedom learns to grow on firm moral foundations and, ultimately, on the law of God. America will only be able to play its important role in the Church and in the world if it defends and promotes the immense spiritual and social patrimony of its families.

5. Mexico and the United States are two great countries which well represent the multifaceted wealth of the American continent, as well as its contradictions. Woven deeply into the cultural and social fabric, the Church invites everyone to meet Jesus Christ, who continues today to be the "way to conversion, communion and solidarity".

This meeting, with the motherly assistance of Our Lady of Guadalupe, has indelibly marked America's history. I entrust to the intercession of the patroness of that beloved continent the hope that the encounter with Christ will continue to bring light to the peoples of the New World in the millennium which is about to begin.

© Copyright  - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Papa Juan Pablo II's refections on his apostolic pilgrimage to the US
General Audience, Wednesday 23 September 1987 - in Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"1. Demos gracias al Señor nuestro Dios...
Hoy deseo, junto con el Episcopado y con la Iglesia que está en los Estados Unidos de América, dar gracias a Dios, nuestro Señor, por el servicio que he podido prestar durante mi segunda peregrinación a ese país. Doy gracias a Dios y doy gracias al mismo tiempo a los hombres que de diversos modos han contribuido a este especial acontecimiento. En primer lugar doy las gracias a mis hermanos en el Episcopado y a todos sus colaboradores eclesiásticos y laicos.

Una palabra especial de agradecimiento dirijo al Presidente de Estados Unidos, Ronald Reagan, a su esposa y a todos los representantes de las Autoridades Federales y de cada uno de los Estados, por la colaboración tan solícita y discreta. Doy las gracias a los organismos de las comunicaciones sociales y a los de la seguridad. Doy las gracias asimismo al Vicepresidente, George Bush, por sus palabras de despedida al marchar de Detroit.

2. El evento de una visita como ésta merece un análisis atento desde múltiples ángulos. En el marco de un breve discurso se pueden poner de relieve sólo los elementos principales de esta peregrinación papal por los vastos espacios de Estados Unidos. La visita anterior, realizada el año 1979, correspondió a la parte nordeste y central del país. Esta vez el camino se ha dirigido especialmente a través de las regiones del Sur y del Oeste americano. Las etapas han sido sucesivamente: Miami (Florida), Columbia (Carolina del Sur), Nueva Orleáns (Luisiana), San Antonio (Texas), Phoenix (Arizona), y luego a lo largo de la costa del Pacífico: Los Ángeles, Monterrey, San Francisco (California), para concluir finalmente en el Nordeste con la parada en Detroit (Michigan).

En todas partes el centro de la visita lo ha constituido la liturgia eucarística: la santa Misa era el encuentro principal con la Iglesia local (excepto en Columbia, donde el encuentro tuvo el carácter de oración ecuménica en común). Hay que subrayar la excelente preparación litúrgica, que se manifestó especialmente en la perfección de los cantos y en la madura participación de toda la asamblea.

3. Una mirada global al conjunto de la visita me lleva a dirigir la atención al multiforme pluralismo, que se ha hecho evidente durante este viaje. Ante todo al pluralismo étnico. La parte sudoccidental de Estados Unidos tiene vínculos especiales con el mundo hispánico. Efectivamente, de las tierras del continente latinoamericano partió la primera evangelización, que ha dejado huellas de sí hasta nuestros días en los nombres de las principales ciudades y de los centros eclesiásticos (por ejemplo, San Antonio, Los Ángeles, San Francisco, y tantos otros). Hoy dicha presencia étnica se pone de relieve con una fuerza nueva, manifestando al mismo tiempo en primer plano también elementos de la religiosidad y de la devoción características de América Latina.

La herencia francesa se manifiesta principalmente en Nueva Orleáns (y en todo el Estado de Luisana)

4. Cuando se habla de los elementos étnicos, no es posible olvidar a los habitantes originarios de América (los nativos americanos), los indios. No es tampoco posible olvidar a los negros, llevados allí en otro tiempo desde África como esclavos. Hoy constituyen un notable grupo étnico en el "mosaico" de la sociedad americana.

En el contexto de esta visita me ha sido dado reunirme separadamente con cada uno de los grupos mencionados. En la costa occidental se destacan especialmente los grupos de origen asiático. Su presencia en la Iglesia y en la liturgia es ya bien visible.

En cambio en la parte oriental dominan los descendientes de las emigraciones étnicas y entre ellos los hijos de la numerosa emigración polaca, con los cuales pude reunirme en Detroit.

5. Dentro del pluralismo étnico de Estados Unidos, se desarrolla desde hace generaciones el pluralismo confesional (religioso). La Iglesia católica constituye aproximadamente el 23 por ciento del conjunto de los americanos (más de cincuenta millones). junto a ella, el conjunto de la cristiandad en Estados Unidos está constituido por otras numerosas Iglesias y Comunidades cristianas.

El diálogo ecuménico y la colaboración son muy vivos (excepto con algunas comunidades extremistas y con las sectas). Una manifestación del Espíritu que vivifica esta colaboración fue el encuentro que tuvo lugar en Columbia y la oración en común durante la cual pronuncié una homilía dedicada a la familia cristiana.

6. Vivos son también los contactos con las religiones no cristianas que provienen de Asia (budismo e hinduismo), sobre todo en Los Ángeles y en San Francisco. Y allí tuvo lugar el encuentro con los representantes de estas religiones, así como con los del Islam y del judaísmo.

La comunidad israelita en Estados Unidos es muy numerosa y ejerce un gran influjo. Hay que recordar, como uno de los momentos más importantes de la visita, el encuentro que, de acuerdo con el programa, se desarrolló al comienzo de la peregrinación en la ciudad de Miami y que ha constituido un nuevo e importante paso en el camino del diálogo entre la Iglesia y el judaísmo, de acuerdo con el espíritu de la Declaración conciliar Nostra aetate.

7. Debo pronunciar palabras de especial reconocimiento por el modo con el que ha acogido esta visita la Iglesia que está en Estados Unidos y especialmente sus Pastores. Ella no se ha limitado sólo a un encuentro litúrgico durante la santa Misa (la cual sin embargo ha tenido siempre, como es obvio, un puesto central y solemne), sino que se ha articulado también en encuentros con carácter —se podría decir— "de trabajo", que han hecho ver cómo desarrolla su actividad la Iglesia en América en los diversos sectores de la misión que le es propia.

En primer lugar, es preciso citar aquí el encuentro con la Conferencia Episcopal de Estados Unidos, que ha permitido tocar los problemas neurálgicos doctrinales y pastorales de la vida de la Iglesia en esa sociedad grande y diferenciada que es Estados Unidos.

8. Algo semejante hay que decir de los encuentros, programados y desarrollados según el mismo espíritu, con los sacerdotes y con los religiosos y las religiosas, así como con el laicado. Además, los encuentros "de trabajo" con los representantes de las estructuras educativas y de las escuelas —desde las escuelas elementales hasta las universidades—, con los representantes de las instituciones caritativas, entre las cuales se distingue la red —muy desarrollada en Estados Unidos— de los hospitales católicos: de todo el conjunto emerge una imagen de la tarea realizada y de los resultados conseguidos por el catolicismo americano en el arco de casi dos siglos de actividad de la Iglesia (dentro de cinco años, en 1992, tendrá lugar el 200 aniversario de la institución de la jerarquía católica en Estados Unidos).

Quisiera recordar además el encuentro con los jóvenes y el celebrado, en Hollywood, con el mundo de las comunicaciones sociales y del cine.

9. La visita ha tenido lugar en este año 1987, en el que Estados Unidos celebra el 200 aniversario de la proclamación de la Constitución. Esta tiene un significado fundamental no sólo para el desarrollo de la sociedad y de los Estados americanos, de la economía y de la cultura, sitio también para el desarrollo de la Iglesia en ese gran país. Uno de los principios afirmados en la Carta Constitucional es el de la libertad religiosa, gracias a la cual —en régimen de separación entre Iglesia y Estado— se ha realizado un creciente desarrollo en los diversos campos de la vida eclesiástica.

10. Este hecho ha encontrado su reflejo adecuado en el contexto de la reciente visita, la cual ha manifestado entre otras cosas un profundo vínculo del catolicismo estadounidense con la Iglesia universal, mediante la sincera comunión con su centro apostólico, constituido por la Iglesia de Roma.

El Obispo de Roma agradece a toda la sociedad americana, y en particular a la Iglesia que vive en ese continente, la cordial hospitalidad. Y al mismo tiempo le desea una fructuosa evangelización, adecuada a las necesidades de la sociedad contemporánea, que se caracteriza por elevadas conquistas en el campo de la cultura material, de la civilización, y especialmente en el campo de la organización, de la ciencia y de la técnica. Se puede decir que, en dicho contexto, la evangelización exige una "inculturación" cada vez más madura.

11. Al mismo tiempo no es posible olvidar la parábola evangélica que nos pone ante los ojos la figura del rico Epulón y de Lázaro. La Iglesia y el cristianismo en América deben tener una profunda conciencia del desafío que el mundo contemporáneo pone a través de la división en un Norte rico (los países en pleno desarrollo) y un Sur subdesarrollado (el así llamado Tercer Mundo). En el nombre del Evangelio, la Iglesia y el cristianismo han de hacerse eco constante de este desafío. Y juntas han de buscar las soluciones oportunas. La Iglesia universal, que une a los hombres y a los pueblos en la dimensión de todo el globo terrestre, desea emprender con renovado vigor este servicio.  ...."

 

Blessed John Paul II (in Boston on 1st October 1979):

".. the reason for my mission, for my journey, through the United States is to tell you, to tell everyone — young and old alike — to say to everyone in the name of Christ: "Come and follow me!"

Follow Christ! You who are married: share your love and your burdens with each other; respect the human dignity of your spouse; accept joyfully the life that God gives through you; make your marriage stable and secure for your children's sake.

Follow Christ! You who are single or who are preparing for marriage. Follow Christ! You who are young or old. Follow Christ! You who are sick or aging; who are suffering or in pain. You who feel the need for healing, the need for love, the need for a friend — follow Christ!

To all of you I extend — in the name of Christ — the call, the invitation, the plea : "Come and follow me". This is why I have come to America, and why I have come to Boston tonight: to call you to Christ — to call all of you and each of you to live in his love, today and forever. Amen!"

Archbishop Chaput's Homily at Closing Mass of Fortnight for Freedom

4th July 2012, in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington, DC

"Paul Claudel, the French poet and diplomat of the last century, once described the Christian as "a man who knows what he is doing and where he is going in a world [that] no longer [knows] the difference between good and evil, yes and no. He is like a god standing out in a crowd of invalids . . . He alone has liberty in a world of slaves."

Like most of the great writers of his time, Claudel was a mix of gold and clay, flaws and genius. He had a deep and brilliant Catholic faith, and when he wrote that a man "who no longer believes in God, no longer believes in anything," he was simply reporting what he saw all around him. He spoke from a lifetime that witnessed two world wars and the rise of atheist ideologies that murdered tens of millions of innocent people using the vocabulary of science. He knew exactly where forgetting God can lead.

We Americans live in a different country, on a different continent, in a different century. And yet, in speaking of liberty, Claudel leads us to the reason we come together in worship this afternoon.

Most of us know today's passage from the Gospel of Matthew. What we should, or should not, render unto Caesar shapes much of our daily discourse as citizens. But I want to focus on the other and more important point Jesus makes in today's Gospel reading: the things we should render unto God.

When the Pharisees and Herodians try to trap Jesus, he responds by asking for a coin. Examining it he says, "Whose image is this and whose inscription?" When his enemies say "Caesar's," he tells them to render it to Caesar. In other words, that which bears the image of Caesar belongs to Caesar.

The key word in Christ's answer is "image," or in the Greek, eikon. Our modern meaning of "image" is weaker than the original Greek meaning. We tend to think of an image as something symbolic, like a painting or sketch. The Greek understanding includes that sense but goes further. In the New Testament, the "image" of something shares in the nature of the thing itself.

This has consequences for our own lives because we're made in the image of God. In the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the same word, eikon, is used in Genesis when describing the creation. "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness" says God (Gen 1:26). The implication is clear. To be made in the image of God is more than a pious slogan. It's a statement of fact. Every one of us shares -- in a limited but real way -- in the nature of God himself. When we follow Jesus Christ, we grow in conformity to that image.

Once we understand this, the impact of Christ's response to his enemies becomes clear. Jesus isn't being clever. He's not offering a political commentary. He's making a claim on every human being. He's saying, "render unto Caesar those things that bear Caesar's image, but more importantly, render unto God that which bears God's image" -- in other words, you and me. All of us.

And that raises some unsettling questions: What do you and I, and all of us, really render to God in our personal lives? If we claim to be disciples, then what does that actually mean in the way we speak and act?

Thinking about the relationship of Caesar and God, religious faith and secular authority, is important. It helps us sort through our different duties as Christians and citizens. But on a deeper level, Caesar is a creature of this world, and Christ's message is uncompromising: We should give Caesar nothing of ourselves. Obviously we're in the world. That means we have obligations of charity and justice to the people with whom we share it. Patriotism is a virtue. Love of country is an honorable thing. As Chesterton once said, if we build a wall between ourselves and the world, it makes little difference whether we describe ourselves as locked in or locked out.

But God made us for more than the world. Our real home isn't here. The point of today's Gospel passage is not how we might calculate a fair division of goods between Caesar and God. In reality, it all belongs to God and nothing - at least nothing permanent and important - belongs to Caesar. Why? Because just as the coin bears the stamp of Caesar's image, we bear the stamp of God's image in baptism. We belong to God, and only to God.

In today's second reading, St. Paul tells us, "Indeed religion" -- the RSV version says "godliness" - "with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, just as we shall not be able to take anything out of it." True freedom knows no attachments other than Jesus Christ. It has no love of riches or the appetites they try to satisfy. True freedom can walk away from anything -- wealth, honor, fame, pleasure. Even power. It fears neither the state, nor death itself.

Who is the most free person at anything? It's the person who masters her art. A pianist is most free who -- having mastered her instrument according to the rules that govern it and the rules of music, and having disciplined and honed her skills -- can now play anything she wants.

The same holds true for our lives. We're free only to the extent that we unburden ourselves of our own willfulness and practice the art of living according to God's plan. When we do this, when we choose to live according to God's intention for us, we are then -- and only then -- truly free.

This is the freedom of the sons and daughters of God. It's the freedom of Miguel Pro, Mother Teresa, Maximillian Kolbe, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and all the other holy women and men who have gone before us to do the right thing, the heroic thing, in the face of suffering and adversity.

This is the kind of freedom that can transform the world. And it should animate all of our talk about liberty - religious or otherwise.

I say this for two reasons. Here's the first reason. Real freedom isn't something Caesar can give or take away. He can interfere with it; but when he does, he steals from his own legitimacy.

Here's the second reason. The purpose of religious liberty is to create the context for true freedom. Religious liberty is a foundational right. It's necessary for a good society. But it can never be sufficient for human happiness. It's not an end in itself. In the end, we defend religious liberty in order to live the deeper freedom that is discipleship in Jesus Christ. What good is religious freedom, consecrated in the law, if we don't then use that freedom to seek God with our whole mind and soul and strength?

Today, July 4, we celebrate the birth of a novus ordo seclorum - a "new order of the ages," the American Era. God has blessed our nation with resources, power, beauty and the rule of law. We have so much to be grateful for. But these are gifts. They can be misused. They can be lost. In coming years, we'll face more and more serious challenges to religious liberty in our country. This is why the Fortnight for Freedom has been so very important.

And yet, the political and legal effort to defend religious liberty - as vital as it is - belongs to a much greater struggle to master and convert our own hearts, and to live for God completely, without alibis or self-delusion. The only question that finally matters is this one: Will we live wholeheartedly for Jesus Christ? If so, then we can be a source of freedom for the world. If not, nothing else will do.

God's words in today's first reading are a caution we ignore at our own expense. "Son of man," God says to Ezekiel and to all of us, "I have appointed you as a sentinel. If I say to the wicked, 'you will surely die' - and you do not warn them or speak out to dissuade them . . . I will hold you responsible for their blood."

Here's what that means for each of us: We live in a time that calls for sentinels and public witness. Every Christian in every era faces the same task. But you and I are responsible for this moment. Today. Now. We need to "speak out," not only for religious liberty and the ideals of the nation we love, but for the sacredness of life and the dignity of the human person - in other words, for the truth of what it means to be made in the image and likeness of God.

We need to be witnesses of that truth not only in word, but also in deed. In the end, we're missionaries of Jesus Christ, or we're nothing at all. And we can't share with others what we don't live faithfully and joyfully ourselves.

When we leave this Mass today, we need to render unto Caesar those things that bear his image. But we need to render ourselves unto God -- generously, zealously, holding nothing back. To the extent we let God transform us into his own image, we will - by the example of our lives - fulfill our duty as citizens of the United States, but much more importantly, as disciples of Jesus Christ."

If you'd be up for giving your something about Mary,
please do get in touch with the Totus2us team

- as well as hopefully bringing you joy,
you'd be really helping Totus2us   ♥

Totus tuus ego sum et omnia mea tua sunt.
Accipio te in mea omnia. Praebe mihi cor tuum, Maria. - St Louis de Montfort

Blessed John Paul II took his motto Totus Tuus from this quote.

"I am totally yours and all that I have is yours.
I accept you for my all. O Mary, give me your heart.”