Sunday, June 05, 2005

The Greeting I Miss...

As I sit here and wait for the Angelus message, I'm thinking of one thing -- one of many -- that I miss about John Paul II.

The story of his election night is a great one. Before 16 October 1978, a new Pope would come out onto the balcony of St. Peter's, simply give a blessing to the gathered masses, then go back inside. But from his first minute on the world stage, Karol Wojtyla showed that his would be a different papacy.

While the crowd was going wild with disbelieving applause at the election of a Polish pope, Virgilio Noe', the then-master of ceremonies (now a retired cardinal), brought the blessing book over to JP, but he waved it away. He then shocked and awed the crowd by uttering the great four words: "Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!" -- "Praised be Jesus Christ!"

And for practically every appearance of his pontificate: liturgies, audiences, the Angelus meetings, his last four words would be that very same greeting. It was a welcome constant, one that Benedict XVI -- whose native equivalent is "Gross Gott" ("God is good"), which the Germans say even when it's raining -- hasn't taken up.

Sia lodato... took on a life of its own, and it was often used as John Paul code. You could tell this because, in cathedrals all around the world, people who knew little or no Italian would hear it and boom out the response. Rigali happened to use the greeting when he was installed as archbishop of Philadelphia, but he just said it and kept going -- but the priests chimed in, "Sempre sia lodato" ("May he always be praised"), bringing a megawatt smile to the face of the new Pharaoh. It's like the Vietnamese priests in Chicago I heard about who tried to learn Sto lat before meeting John Paul.

So five minutes to the Angelus, senza Sia lodato, ma una Buona domenica a tutti!



Blogger Innocent said...

Hmm.. Something strange going on here. I watched Pope John Paul II -the CBS movie
just today morning, and though I don't know much about usual papal blessing protocols, his first blessing at the balcony did strike me as a profound moment. Then, one hour later, I access the internet, and somehow, without intending to, I come across this blog post of yours, and I realise what a really profound moment it was!

Sia lodato Gesu Cristo!

28/1/07 21:28  

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