By ANTHONY LE, Special to the Bulletin | Published April 24, 2008
A full six-day event with Pope Benedict XVI has brought me abundant joy, hope, serenity, confidence, love, and God’s providence in my heart and deep down in my “thirsty” soul. Despite the tiredness of my physical body, my spiritual and emotional life on the contrary is completely renewed in God’s amazing way. My credentials as a military intelligence major in the U.S. Army gave me a chance to welcome the pope at Andrews Air Force Base and to see him again on the South Lawn of the White House and during public Masses in Washington and New York. It was really amazing. Two main themes of the pope that have touched me deeply are: the interrelation of faith and freedom, and prayer. According to the pope, freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal responsibility. Authentic freedom can never be attained by turning away from God as such a choice would ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand ourselves. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human, capable of directing the will along the path of freedom. Faith also demands the courage to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values to reasoned public debate. Prayer itself, strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, as the pope taught, must be the first means by which we come to know the Lord’s will for our lives. The pope also asked us to urgently reassess the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike. Before leaving us, the pope asked us to trust in the Spirit’s power to inspire conversion, to heal every wound, to overcome every division, to inspire new life and freedom, and turn to our way of love those whose hearts and minds are consumed with hatred. … Long live Pope Benedict XVI! We love you with our hearts, minds and souls!
Anthony Le, 34, a major in the U.S. Army, traveled to see the pope with his wife, Sylvia, his mother and his brother. A native of Vietnam, he and his wife belong to the Cathedral of Christ the King in Atlanta.