At my parish in the Archdiocese of Washington — the name will be withheld to protect the “sinnocent” — the end-of-Mass announcements held special resonance for Pope Francis’ visit.
Not everyone in the parish could win a ticket to the Sept. 23 outdoor Mass canonizing Blessed Junipero Serra. But the pastor had a proposal.
Would anyone like to see the pope in his popemobile doing a lap around the Ellipse that morning? If so, come to church for a 6 a.m. Mass. It’s a bit of a consolation prize for those unable to go to the canonization Mass. However, after the Mass, those hardy, early-rising pilgrims were going to walk to the nearest subway station and get as close to the Ellipse as the subway could take them.
Ah, but there was a catch: If you want to go, you’ll have to wear your “Walk With Francis” wristband. Those wristbands had been distributed the previous weekend if you had turned in a form indicating that you would — figuratively, at least — walk with Pope Francis by praying, or serving, or taking action. A spot on the popemobile route had been saved specifically for Washington archdiocesan Catholics sporting a wristband. No wristband? Sorry, Charlie.
There was another gift of sorts distributed before the end of the Mass in anticipation of the papal visit: A combination prayer card-bookmark with the World Meeting of Families prayer. Those were exhausted in short order. If you have not seen the prayer, here it is:
God and Father of us all, in Jesus, your Son and our Savior, You have made us your sons and daughters in the family of the church.
May your grace and love help our families in every part of the world be united to one another in fidelity to the Gospel.
May the example of the Holy Family, with the aid of your Holy Spirit, guide all families, especially those most troubled, to be homes of communion and prayer and to always seek your truth and live in your love.
Through Christ our Lord, amen.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, pray for us!