Pope Francis Visits the NAC!

Today Pope Francis, in his first visit to a seminary to Rome, came and celebrated Mass here at the NAC!  [now Saint] John Paul II would sometimes visit a country's seminarians here in Rome before going on an Apostolic visit to that country, and Francis is doing the same thing before his trip to the United States in September.  The entire morning focussed on Bl. Junipero Serra, who Pope Francis will canonize during his trip to the U.S., and who is a tremendous example to all of us priests-in-training.  I was in the choir, so the only time I saw Pope Francis up close was as he drove away after the Mass, but it still was an amazing gift, and certainly inspired me to recommit myself to all those things that made Bl. Junipero Serra such an amazing priest.  
Quote from Fr. Harmon: "the Pope has left the premises"!
(What a day!)
Our Stained-Glass Window of Bl. Junipero Serra
Junipero Serra was born in the early 1700s, became a Franciscan (taking the name Junipero), came to the Americas (at first he was in Mexico city), became famous for his preaching and missions, and then traveled up the Pacific coast of North America, founding missions and evangelizing the Native Americans living in those areas.  Key point: He truly loved the Indians, protecting them from the abuses rampant in the Spanish army (this was all territory of Spain at this point), and calling for forgiveness, not vengeance, even after a group of the natives burned the mission and killed at least one of the friars.  His missionary zeal and fatherly love for the people was unabated by lack of food, hundreds of miles of walking between the missions (on an injured leg), dangerous circumstances, and everything else, and he confirmed thousands who converted throughout the many missions he founded.  

Pope Francis Meeting His (lucky!) Servers
Pope Francis made 3 further points about this intrepid, indefatigable, insatiable missionary to the Americas during his homily (which was given in Italian, and during which I was very grateful for my time at the Gregorian which has helped my command of that language immensely - translation here).  First, he was absolutely on-fire with missionary zeal for the saving of souls and the transmitting of the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. This man left home, family, everything, and went to a far away, and little-known, new continent to bring Christ there!  
"Like Paul and Barnabas, like the disciples in Antioch and in all of Judea, he was filled with joy and the Holy Spirit in spreading the word of the Lord. Such zeal excites us, it challenges us! ... But I wonder if today we are able to respond with the same generosity and courage to the call of God, who invites us to leave everything in order to worship him, to follow him, to rediscover him in the face of the poor, to proclaim him to those who have not known Christ and, therefore, have not experienced the embrace of his mercy."
Us waiting for Pope Francis After Mass
Point #2: He entrusted his entire life and work to Our Blessed Lady! He put an image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, now patroness of the Americas, in all of His missions.  Just as Mary opened her heart so completely to God's will, Junipero asked that she would open the hearts of those he was preaching to (and didn't she!)  Our job, do the same, entrusting our lives, and our efforts at evangelization to her:

"today's mission to the continent is entrusted to her, [who is] the first, holy missionary disciple, [and] a constant presence and companion, our source of comfort and hope.  For she always hears and protects her American children."

Pope Francis Waving/Laughing at the Crowd of Us!
Finally, the Pope emphasized just how saintly Junipero Serra was, just how totally he trusted and followed and preached and lived Our Lord Jesus' call and example.  But it gets better: there are tons of awesome saints from the Americas who we should emulate too.  Pope Francis's list: contemplatives like Rose of Lima, Mariana of Quito and Teresita de los Andes; pastors who bear the scent of Christ and of his sheep, such as Toribio de Mogrovejo, Francois de Laval, and Rafael Guizar Valencia; humble workers in the vineyard of the Lord, like Juan Diego and Kateri Tekakwitha; servants of the suffering and the marginalized, like Peter Claver, Martín de Porres, Damian of Molokai, Alberto Hurtado and Rose Philippine Duchesne; founders of communities consecrated to the service of God and of the poorest, like Frances Cabrini, Elizabeth Ann Seton and Katharine Drexel; tireless missionaries, such as Friar Francisco Solano, José de Anchieta, Alonso de Barzana, Maria Antonia de Paz y Figueroa and Jose Gabriel del Rosario Brochero; and martyrs like Roque Gonzalez, Miguel Pro and Oscar Arnulfo Romero.
 "May a powerful gust of holiness sweep through all the Americas during the coming Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy!  Confident in Jesus’ promise, which we heard today in the Gospel, we ask God for this special outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  We ask the Risen Jesus, Lord of all ages, that the life of our American continent may be rooted ever more deeply in the Gospel it has received; that Christ may be ever more present in the lives of individuals, families, peoples and nations, for the greater glory of God.  We pray too that this glory may be manifested in the culture of life, brotherhood, solidarity, peace and justice, with a preferential and concrete love for the poor, through the witness of Christians of various confessions and communities, together with believers of other religious traditions, and people of upright conscience and good will. Lord Jesus, we are merely your missionary disciples, your humble co-workers so that your Kingdom may come!"
"This is my Body"
Something that struck me powerfully today was the holiness so present in Pope Francis.  He celebrated a beautiful, reverent, intimate Mass for all of us, completely absorbed by the prayers yet showing a love and excitement for us, waving and grinning as he drove off.  It's a side of the Pope that we never here in news articles, but it's the "side" of our Holy Father that truly showed me his holiness and fatherliness!  It was beautiful, awesome, fun, and another one of those amazing experiences that I've been blessed with over here!  

Let's go convert the world!