Friday, April 8

"MAY THE ANGELS CONDUCT YOU TO HEAVEN AND THE MARTYRS RECEIVE YOU"

I rose at 2:30am CDT this morning to watch the funeral Mass for Pope John Paul II on television. I am glad I did. As the scene in Saint Peter's Square was described so eloquently: An immense crowd of some 300,000 people gathered -- quiet and adoring.

A worldwide audience looked on. The scenes of the crowds gathered in Krakow, Poland, were particularly moving, as were those of the faithful in Mexico City.

I was struck by the simplicity of the coffin for this Pope -- a box built of cypress wood, with dove-tailed joints, and bearing a simple Christian cross and the letter "M" for Mary, Mother of God, on its lid. This man who lived and died without any material possessions, and who directed that his private papers be burned, returns to the earth a humble servant of the Lord, yet in that grace and humility, beloved, adored, and now, alas, worshipped by millions. His remains will be within just feet of St. Peter's. His soul now joins those of the Dearly Departed in Heaven. He was ours on this Earth. He is God's forever more.