I was scheduled to sing for Pope John Paul II in an audience on Nov. 30, 2005, (my third opportunity to be with him on this trip–what a blessing!), but he ended up having a stomach virus that caused his secretary to cancel all but a few important exchanges. This necessarily excluded me.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, but God knows what He is about, and I’m sure the Holy Father was much more in need of rest than in hearing me sing the “Ave Maria”. One really cool unexpected blessing, though, was that Archbishop Hughes (my archbishop) and all of the bishops from Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky were in town for their ad limina visit, and I was invited by Fr. Christopher Nalty, a priest friend who works at the Vatican, to sing for their Mass in the crypt of St. Peter’s Basilica. So there I was with about 25 bishops, a dozen or so priests and two other lay people, where I got to sing at the tomb of St. Peter! The tombs of many, if not all, of the past canonized popes also surrounded us. It was really very special for me–I felt so small in the Big Picture of our rich Catholic heritage.
I flew out two days later and went straight to AZ, where I had a concert in a really fun and vibrant parish, St. Timothy (where LifeTeen was founded). After I told them the story I just told you, someone spontaneously yelled out, “Hey, Kitty–it’s OK. You sang for the FIRST Pope!” Well, what a cool way to think about it, huh? (I guess I just forgot to tell God *which* Pope I was hoping to sing for :-). Another friend has since commented that maybe I was also singing for the future pope! Hmmm…..
Anyway, the bottom line is that as much as I wanted to tell myself that I just wanted to lift up JPII in prayer and honor Mary with my song, I realized that a little hidden part of myself really wanted it for ME–to feel special, to have the public recognition that God really has chosen me to do this work for Him, etc. I was reminded that God has His own plan for us and for our ministry/life’s work, and our job is to accept His will with docility, gratitude and joy. In fact, John Paul II was to die only a few months later.
Some days He may want me to sing for bishops and cardinals and popes, other days He may want me to sing for people who are marginalized and broken and forgotten, and still other days He may just want me to be silent. I’m learning that the joy comes in wanting whatever it is He wants.
Love and blessings in this beautiful Year of the Eucharist. Let’s pray for each other +