I will never forget the afternoon of October 15, 2005, around noon in New York, late afternoon in Rome - I watched CTV's streaming feed of Benedict XVI meeting some 100,000 First Communion kids in St. Peter's Square. The format could not have surprised me more... and I found myself furiously scribbling in Italian trying to catch up with the dialog - through all my excitement at the wondrous experience of listening to this great intellectual answering children so easily and substantially in language any six-year-old could understand Below, I have reproduced what I wrote on the spot, or almost, for the RFC at the time, so moved and excited as I was! ... Two days later, the Vatican Press Office released the transcript of the dialog, and I did not hesitate to go ahead and translate it. It was the first time I ever translated any text by Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI (I think I had been a member of the RFC for only six weeks at that time) and it was undiluted pleasure....
And today, on the Feast of St. Joseph, this wonderful development, reported below by Amy Welborn...
May 1, 2010 by Amy
About three years ago, I think, a blog reader wrote to me with an idea.
Her name was Ann, she was an artist living in New York, and she was as grateful for the papacy and wisdom of Pope Benedict XVI as I was. She had been struck by the Holy Father’s exchange with First Communion children back in 2005 (wow…that was a long time ago…) and thought it would make a nice children’s book. Would I be interested in helping her edit/find a publisher?
Well, I’m ashamed to say it took me several months to get back to her – she was very patient and I’m glad she was persistent. Over time, she continued working on illustrations, we talked about how to go about this, I edited the dialogue, wrote a scene-setting introduction and some other framing material, did a book proposal, and started sending it out.
And sending, and sending, and sending. To (I think) every Catholic publisher in the United States and several secular publishers.
No, no, no.
Which…surprised me. But enough about that.
A few months ago, I was fretting (and fuming) about this, when the Holy Father’s visit to England was announced…hmmmm…I thought.
So I wrote to the Catholic Truth Society, and within a very short time, they had considered the idea, agreed to it, and…in a very short time, they have brought it to print. As of today!
Here’s the website entry for the book.
The price is given in US dollars as well as pounds – I assume you can order it from the US, although I’ve no idea what the shipping would be.
Ann will be eventually making signed prints of the images available through her website, so watch for that.
Both Ann & I journeyed to Rome at various times over the past couple of years, hoping, as a side note to the trips, to present mock-ups of the book to the Holy Father. There’s one illustration in particular that Ann did using a photograph of the young Joseph Ratzinger after his own First Holy Communion, that we thought he would appreciate.
We both had our adventures in doing so – I attempted when I went in the fall of 2008 (you might remember – to visit my son David who was living over there at the time because, you know, he’d forgotten his jacket, and I probably should take it to him…), and got as far as a seat in the VIP section for the General Audience, but I was on the wrong side for presenting the HF w/Stuff, so I blew it, but Ann succeeded very nicely the next April(2009) ….
…which was better, since it’s really her and the Holy Father’s work!
We’re very, very pleased to finally see this book in print. We’re praying that the Holy Father’s gift for simple, yet profound catechesis will help children and parents draw closer to Christ.
Ann's site is a pleasure to peruse... Her watercolors are exceptionally fine, and she has such a gift for detail and color. And whether her subjects are landscapes, still life or people, they are all suffused with inner glow... Thank you for this garden of delight in cyberspace, Ann.
Here is my post on the First Communicants event 4-1/2 years ago....resurrected from the former Ratzinger Fan Club, now the Benedict XVI Fan Club.
TERESA BENEDETTA Re: MEETING WITH THE CHILDREN #8
WHAT AN EXPERIENCE THAT WAS! Papa must have spent at least 20 minutes waving and blessing as the Popemobile went through the large crowd all the way up to where the Bernini colonnades end and Via della Conciliazione begins....
Highlights of his Q-and-A with the kids (quick translations from the notes I took - I watched the whole thing on CTV in beautiful, pure, unspoiled-by-commentary Italian - while the Pope was speaking, so some words may not have been exact and I may have missed some key phrases):
Question #1 - Holy Father, what do you remember of your own First Communion?
Answer: It was March of 1936, a Sunday, a beautiful day. The sun was out, the church was filled with music...There were about 30 of us in a small town that had only about 500 inhabitants...And like one of you said earlier, I understood that Jesus had visited me, that God himself was therefore in me, that this was a gift of love which would last me for the rest of my life. I was starting a new stage in life. I was 9 years old, that was almost 70 years ago...I promised Jesus that I would want always to be with Him...and so I moved forward in life...It began a friendship with Jesus...If we go with Him, everything will be well and we shall see that life is good.
Question#2: Should I go to confession each time before receiving Communion? And what should I do since I seem to be confessing the same things all the time?
Answer: First, it is not necessary to go to confession every time, only if you have commited a sin that is truly grave, because then it is necessary to begin anew. But even if you don't have to go to confession all the time, it is useful to do it regularly. About seeming to confess the same things over and over, it's like cleaning our rooms regularly even if it's always the same dirt. It's the same way with the soul. If we do not cleanse it regularly, it becomes all dark. Cleaning out the soul cultivates beauty of the spirit and helps us develop and mature in life.
Question #3: Our catechism teacher says that Jesus is present in the Eucharist. Why don't I see Him?
Answer: (The Pope laughs, very amused) But there are so many things we do not see, but we know they exist. For instance, reason, or intelligence. Or take electricity, for instance - we do not see it, but we know it is there because we see its effects - the lights function, my microphone works because of electricity. Usually we cannot see the most profound things, but we can see their effects. It's the same way with our Lord - we know Him by the effects that he works in us . Persons become better because of Him, He helps us to be better persons and therefore to live better lives.
Question #4: We have been taught the importance of going to Sunday Mass. But sometimes our parents don't - they prefer to sleep. Why is it important and what can we do?
Answer: You must always treat your parents with great love and respect, so you can say to them, "Dear Papa, Dear Mama, can we take a little time each Sunday to go to Mass? Because it is important for us and important that we do it together as a family." But remember, always do this with great love and respect.
Question #5: What purpose is served by going to Mass?
Answer: To find the center of our life, which is Jesus. Those who do not go to Mass do not know that they need Jesus, but they know that they need something at the center of their life. We need our friendship with Jesus who brings us joy and helps us to grow and develop in life. We may not always see the effects in our life at once, but over the weeks and years, we will feel more within us that sense of Jesus being with us. It is a basic need for us that we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist.
Question #6: What does it mean when we are told that "Bread is life"?
Answer: Bread is the basic nourishment. Just as we need to feed ourselves physically, we also need to feed our soul so that it can mature and attain its fullness. Jesus himself is the food for our soul, for the inner man. It is His friendship that feeds us, to develop and attain maturity, that makes it possible for life to be good.
Question #7: What does the adoration of the Eucharist mean?
Answer: We will be doing it together shortly with words and song. But what is it? To adore the Eucharist is to recognize that Jesus is my Lord, that I live well only if I follow His way, and to say to him, Jesus, I am all yours....
The Adoration that followed was a lovely experience...Beautiful symphonic music accompanied the hymns sung by everyone... The sun set just before the Adoration began, so the evening setting was very appropriate and there was a full moon even.
It was very emotional for me to see St. Peter's Square once again as the grand stage (the best in the world) for an extraordinary event that was beautifully planned and executed.
I wish this had been telecast all over the world as the Funeral for Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict's own inauguration, for once again, it is the Roman Catholic Church doing what it does best - demonstrate the faith as well as inspire it through a meaningful celebration of liturgy.
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 1/23/2012 5:34 PM]