Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Pope at the White House Lawn

Well, I'm not really going to be live-blogging this. But I'm sitting at a little cafe here in this lovely little town in rural northern Georgia, watching the live feeds over WiFi. [And I'm afraid I'll be missing the evening gathering at the National Shrine, since I have another commitment.]

After the Holy Father arrived, the bands played the national anthem of the Holy See and the Star Spangled Banner. I must say, I never thought about the Holy See having a national anthem, but of course it must. First time I've heard it! [I'm not sure which of the two texts and melodies that show up for the Holy See was played: the Hymn, or the Pontifical March. And, according to Wikipedia, quoting the Vatican, this is not technically, a national anthem.]

And just before Kathleen Battle sang the Our Father, the crowd spontaneously burst into "Happy Birthday" and he beamed and stood up to acknowledge them.

Now President Bush is giving his welcome remarks.

"A nation that is fully modern yet guided by eternal truths ... innovative ... yet religious."

Quoting JPII: "In a world without truths, freedom loses its foundations. ... echoes in some sense of President Washington that religion and morality represent indispensable supports for political prosperity."

"All human life is sacred ... " (cheers from the crowd)

"Need your message to reject this dictatorship of relativism" (He's using B16's celebrated phrase!)

10:43 am Now the Holy Father is speaking

"Important moment in the Catholic Church ... 200 years of Baltimore being established as a Metropolitan ... "

"Happy to be here as a guest of all Americans ... I come as a friend."

"The framers of this nation's founding documents drew upon these truths [natural law] that all men are created equal ... "

"I look forward to meeting not just American Catholics, but other Christians and representatives of other religions. Historically not only Catholics but all believers have found the freedom to worship God as their conscience dictates"

"Freedom is not just a gift but a responsibility -- Americans know this ... almost every town has a monument to its veterans."

Now a few words about the UN so that it becomes a "legitimate voice for the aspirations of all the world's people's."

"God Bless America"

Man, that was an incredible text. Can't wait to read it and parse it.

10:52 am The US Army Chorus performing the Battle Hymn of the Republic.

10:59 am As they go in for their meeting, the official rendition of "Happy Birthday" with Kathleen Battle soaring in the stratosphere!

[I'm just reviewing the lyrics of the Battle Hymn: the refrain certainly seems to echo the message of both what President Bush and His Holiness says ... "His truth is marching on." The verses talk about God's judgment, imagery redolent of the Book of Revelation. However, given what the Holy Father said about the cost of freedom, it seems somehow appropriate. Verse 5:
In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

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