During this busy travel season, we could all benefit from the advice Pope Benedict XVI gave to participants in the fifteenth World Seminar for Catholic Civil Aviation Chaplains and Chaplaincy Members about how to witness to our Faith in a place that allows each of us to make a global impact – at the airport!
According to the Vatican Information Service, the Pope shared his reflections on new methods and forms of evangelization for chaplains involved in aviation, encouraging them to be “conscious that you are called to embody in the world’s airports the Church’s mission of bringing God to man and leading man to the encounter with God.”
Although addressed to chaplains, his advice is invaluable for any Catholic who passes through an airport.
“Airports are places that increasingly reflect the globalised reality of our time. Here one finds people of a wide variety of nationalities, cultures, religions, social status and age. One also comes across all manner of difficult human situations that demand increasing attention. I think, for example, of people waiting anxiously as they seek to pass through border controls without the necessary documentation, either as immigrants or asylum seekers. I think of the inconvenience caused by anti-terrorism security measures. … This is the human and spiritual environment in which you are called to proclaim the Good News with renewed vigor by your words, by your presence, by your example and by the witness you bear. Be assured that even in chance encounters, people are able to recognize a man of God, and that often a small seed falling on good soil can bring forth abundant fruit.”
He continued: “In airports, moreover, you have daily contact with a great many men and women who work in an environment marked by continuous mobility and constant technological development, both of which tend to obscure the centrality of the human person. Often more attention is paid to efficiency and productivity than to the love of neighbor and the solidarity that should always characterize human relations. Here too, your presence is of great value and importance: it is a living witness to a God Who is close to human beings, and it serves as a reminder never to show indifference to those one meets, but to treat them generously and lovingly.”
He also called upon Our Lady of Loreto, the patroness of air travellers, a tradition that attributes to the angels the transportation of Mary’s house from Nazareth to Loreto, Italy.
The Pope concluded his remarks by encouraging them to be “radiant signs of this charity of Christ which brings serenity and peace.”
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