Promoting and preparing for the Papal Visit

This morning my postman delivered copies of the Parish Resources Booklet for the Papal visit. Since the official website has now been updated fairly extensively, I spent some time looking around. Buried rather deeply is a link to the Twitter feed @thepapalvisit and the Facebook page The Papal Visit. I was the 25th person to follow on Twitter and the 187th person to "like" the Facebook page (they have been going for a few weeks.) I post the links here because I think it would be good to get those numbers up somewhat. (It might be an idea to put those links prominently on the front page of the official website.) Do promote them on your own blog, Twitter feed and Facebook wall.

You can also get a poster and web banners (as above) though there is not yet a contact or link for papal flags in various sizes. "Bones" has already commented on merchandise of various sorts and posted a link to items on Zazzle that come up on a search for "Pope Benedict". Perhaps some of you might like to get to work on some more items related to the visit to the UK. [UPDATE: see also Catholics With Attitude which has lots of papal visit t-shirts)

In the Parish Resources Booklet, there are plenty of resources for the kind of event where you meet in a hall, have a "Prayer Focus" with icon, open bible and scented candles on a draped cloth and the programme runs "Welcome and invitation to prayer (5 mins) Gathering Prayer (5 mins) Introduce the theme (1 mins) Sharing time (15-20 mins ) ...." Now look: there are people who love that sort of thing and I hope there are plenty of opportunities for them to share. I will probably facilitate one or two if I can (or facilitate someone else to facilitate them.) The rest of us, who have to resist the temptation to run screaming into the night when ambushed by such an event, it seems to me that we just need to come up with some other ideas rather than spend too much time taking the mickey. (You have to examine your conscience on how much time is just about right.)

To be fair, the Booklet also mentions Novenas, suggesting the Novena to the Sacred Heart (the website has  links to EWTN), and a Holy Hour. In fact it says "Perhaps diarise offering one hour of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament?", but the Holy Hour could, of course, be solemnly celebrated and include Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament. Another possibility would be Solemn Vespers, or Rosary and Sermon with Novena devotions. For catechesis, some people would welcome lectures on the Petrine office, the life of Pope Benedict, his teaching, or the history of the Catholic Church in Britain. Feel free to make other suggestions in the combox.

The Booklet is quite right to emphasise the importance of visual signs, so the flags, banners and posters in windows are important. I like the idea of a "Commemorative Gesture" as well. The suggestions are "sponsoring the creation of a garden area" and donating books to a local school or charity. I'm sure readers could come up with some other ideas as well.

There has been a lot of quite justified frustration and annoyance about the arrangements for the visit but we do need to be positive, and make sure that we make a strong show of loyalty to Pope Benedict and use the opportunity of his visit as best we can to deepen in our faith and to extend the Church's mission in our country.

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