Mary, Virgin and Mother,
you who, moved by the Holy Spirit,
welcomed the word of life
in the depths of your humble faith:
as you gave yourself completely to the Eternal One,
help us to say our own “yes”
to the urgent call, as pressing as ever,
to proclaim the good news of Jesus.
Filled with Christ’s presence,
you brought joy to John the Baptist,
making him exult in the womb of his mother.
Brimming over with joy,
you sang of the great things done by God.
Standing at the foot of the cross
with unyielding faith,
you received the joyful comfort of the resurrection,
and joined the disciples in awaiting the Spirit
so that the evangelizing Church might be born.
Obtain for us now a new ardour born of the resurrection,
that we may bring to all the Gospel of life
which triumphs over death.
Give us a holy courage to seek new paths,
that the gift of unfading beauty may reach every man and woman.
Virgin of listening and contemplation,
Mother of love, Bride of the eternal wedding feast,
pray for the Church,
whose pure icon you are,
that she may never be closed in on herself
or lose her passion for establishing God’s kingdom.
Star of the new evangelization,
help us to bear radiant witness to communion, service, ardent and generous faith,
justice and love of the poor,
that the joy of the Gospel
may reach to the ends of the earth, illuminating even the fringes of our world.
Mother of the living Gospel,
wellspring of happiness for God’s little ones, pray for us.
Evangelii Gaudium, 288
The last time any generation saw either moment, America had yet to exist on the map, this Earth was predominantly judged to be the center of the Universe, and only the rival families constantly warring for temporal dominance on the Italian peninsula (playing the church as their ever-coveted pawn) had the luxury or desire to know the provenance of the pontiff.
For all the rest, however, one thing alone mattered: "He is Peter."
And the more things change, clearly, the more they stay the same.
In two millennia of the Christian story, not since the Resurrection and Ascension have two moments like these at the very core of it all collided at once. Ergo, Church, before we go any further, let us appreciate and reflect on this surreal moment which we've somehow been given the grace to witness and be part of, and let us pray that we might have the stuff to live up to it going forward.
At the Gate of a New Year – and, to be sure, all the unpredictable moments 2014 will again bring – our traditional hymn of thanksgiving would normally be the Te Deum. This having been anything but an ordinary cycle, though, we'd seemingly be wiser to focus anew on the gift of the Rock given us at the beginning: the Foundation saddled upon a "lowly, and yet chosen" man – just the latest thrust into the Shoes of the Fisherman to guide our shared path ahead....
...sicut erat in principio, et nunc, et semper, et in saecula saeculorum.