Sometimes you don't realize the gifts you have in your own backyard.
Last week the Diocese celebrated the Chrism Mass. One woman was attending, along with a friend who had brought her 10- or 11-year old son. The woman was from Council Bluffs and had never been to the Cathedral before. She was going to be helping with the liturgy and I had a few notes to run through with her in the few minutes before the liturgy. Upon coming to the Cathedral, the three went to the chapel, which has the altar, ambo, and presider's chair that were used for the 1979 visit of John Paul II to Irish Settlement and Living History Farms.
I walked through that chapel scores of times that morning and afternoon in preparation for the Mass. These three, seeing the papal visit furninshings for the first time, knelt on the floor and made their way on their knees to the altar that Pope John Paul II had used. I left them in privacy for this moment, and when I returned the woman asked if that was the altar the pope had used. I said that it was, and that the chair is one that the pope sat in, and that the ambo was also used. She was moved nearly to tears, and I had a shudder of goosebumps as I realized the many people John Paul II affected and how we in the heartland of the United States were blessed to be able to welcome the pope to Iowa for a few hours 31-years ago. Each weekday you can come to the 12:10 pm Mass at the Cathedral. Most days, except during Lent when the crowds are larger, Mass is celebrated in the chapel, using those furnishings.
On May 1, 2011, the Second Sunday in Easter or Divine Mercy Sunday, Servant of God Pope John Paul II will be beatified. The Vatican will publish more information here, including for you liturgio-philes, a worship aid. Attending the beatification? Let us know! We'd love to hear about your experience!