Wednesday, 12 October 2011

A moonlit night in October 1962

When Fr M was a little lad in St Peter's Junior School here in Cardiff, we used to pray every day for something called the Second Vatican Council. We didn't know what it was, but we used to ask God to renew the Church "as by a new Pentecost" - because Pope John XXIII had asked us to.
Yesterday was the 49th anniversary of the opening of the first session of the Council (big year in 2012!) and 10th October was nominated by John Paul II as the feast of the now Blessed John XXIII. I'm grateful for blogger Rocco Palmo's drawing my attention to a totally impromptu little address that Pope John gave from his balcony on that night to a huge crowd with thousands of young people carrying lighted torches - flaming torches that is. I don't remember ever reading or hearing it before, although apparently it has become famous, especially in Italy, as "Il Discorso della Luna" - "The Moonlight Speech."
So here it is with a translation of some parts. It's not of the best, but you'll get the idea. It's hard to imagine the impact of a pope speaking this way almost fifty years ago. What a pope, what a saint...

"Dear children, I hear your voices. My voice is just one voice, but it represents the entire world. Please look at the moon in the sky! It rose earlier tonight to be with us
so that it might watch from above this spectacle that not even St Peter's Basilica, in its four centuries of history, has ever been seen before. This is a natural wonder...
With this speech you and I are going to conclude this day of peace - yes, a day of peace : "Glory to God and on earth peace to men of good will"...
I am not important. I am just your brother who has become a father, through the will of God...
And so, let us continue to love each other, to look out for each other along the way: to welcome whoever comes by, and set aside whatever difficulty might come along.
When you get home, find your children. Hug and kiss them, stroke their cheek and tell them:"This is the Pope's caress". Maybe at times you have to dry their tears. Please help and support them, tell them: "The Pope is with us, especially in times of sadness and bitterness."
And then, together, may we all become fully alive - to sing, to breathe, to cry - but always full of trust in Christ, who helps us and hears us. Let us then continue along our path."

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