HomedotMagisReflectionsThe Golden Ticket to a Papal Mass

The Golden Ticket to a Papal Mass

Portrait of Pope Francis by Bogdan Solomenco (CC0 1.0)The song, “I’ve Got a Golden Ticket” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory describes how some eager Californians feel right now as drawings all over the state determine who will get tickets for the papal Mass canonizing Father Junípero Serra.

For generations, fourth graders in our state have studied the missions, but their founder is not the main draw for these Mass tickets; Pope Francis is.

People are jealous that I’m able to serve as a volunteer, and I know it is a tremendous privilege. Yes, I’ve got the “golden ticket,” and my volunteer duties may give me a chance to meet the Pope. Who knows?

Pope Francis is a celebrity, yes, and the excitement over his pending visit is palpable. Throughout the state parishes are setting up viewing parties, and schools are planning classes in front of screens. However, I lack the star-struck giddiness I hear from people who congratulate and envy me for being on the road to Washington, D.C. and New York.

Rather than feeling like an autograph seeker, I sense a deeper call. My eagerness to participate in this Pope’s first visit to the U.S. is tempered by the fact that I’ve already met his boss. I find myself wondering how I might help further the message of Jesus as a result of Pope Francis’s visit.

The visit is not just a media event, a Secret Service problem, or an occasion for a 225-foot mural overlooking Madison Square Garden. I hope it increases appreciation and homage to a man, but to the God Who Became Man, Jesus.

To be allowed to help with logistics for Pope Francis’s visit leaves me feeling humbled and serious. I’m reminded of St. Ignatius’s meditation on the Two Standards. I’m called into an all-or-nothing relationship with Christ that focuses on self-giving, generosity, and service.

Am I as profoundly eager to meet Christ in the Eucharist—to ingest the incredibly loving Lord who wants to be intimately involved with me—as I am to travel east? How will this trip further involve me in the “camp” of Christ? As I turn again from riches, honor, and pride, will I be more gentle, have greater spiritual freedom, and better see Christ in the poor? How will I live my faith in a way that furthers Christ’s kingdom?

I believe the overwhelming attraction people feel to this Pope is not his personal charisma or his charming smile. It is Jesus himself, calling every human being through this simple vicar of his—the kind of representative of Christ who comes with simplicity, joy, and love.

Have you wondered about how this visit will affect your life, and whether you will hear a deeper call to draw closer to Christ?

Image by Bogdan Solomenco under public domain dedication.Learn more about the Pope of Mercy with a new infographic from Loyola Press.

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Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich
Loretta Pehanich is a Catholic freelance writer and the author of 2022: A Book of Grace-Filled Days, Women in Conversation: Stand Up!, and Fleeting Moments: Praying When You Are Too Busy. A spiritual director since 2012, Loretta is trained in giving the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. Her involvement in ministry and parish life includes 20 years in small faith-sharing groups and Christian Life Community. Loretta gives retreats and presentations on prayer and women’s spirituality and is commissioned as an extraordinary minister of the Eucharist. She and her husband Steve have four children and 10 grandchildren.


  1. I share similar feelings as those posted above – yet I find myself holding my breath as the visit nears. So many large gatherings,not just the masses but many cities have outside viewing parties for his speech to Congress. Not everyone feels as we do. I am praying hard for his safety, for continuing strength and the opening of hearts and minds everywhere. For me,watching Pope Francis is like watching Jesus among us.

    • Yes, Kay, I know what you mean. I saw an advance copy of the program for the canonization Liturgy and the list of venues for the week, and it is a Herculean organizational effort. Praying is a great strategy for all of us! I’m going to crowd under your umbrella of prayer.

  2. Loretta, I wish you and Steve a safe and inspiring trip. I cannot wait to hear about your glorious adventure. Blessings,

  3. I had a similar reaction to Suzanne’s. From the title of the article I thought it was a raffle won. But it was certainly an eye and soul opener to read thru it. It sends you right down to your roots. What is the ultimate reason for our actions?
    But it is done in a gentle manner.
    Thank you! Very well done.

  4. A nice, grounded perspective and a refreshing change from those lining up to further their own agendas by means of (at least figurative) selfies with the Pope. Many Scribes and Pharisees viewed Jesus only through their own warped political lenses. Many of today’s scribes (aka the media) and politicians suffer from the same self-induced myopia, viewing Pope Francis with their own warped political agenda. But our Pope brings Jesus instead of rhetoric, forgiveness instead of power-grabbing, life and hope in the face of abortion and euthanasia.
    Thanks for the golden view, Loretta.

  5. This was such an excellent posting. I thought the ‘golden ticket’ was a raffle offering!
    This causes me to pray for our pope as he is inspired to challenge many with a message of mercy, hope, and transformation. May it move hearts to better see Christ in the poor.. Thank you, Loretta

    • I find his message personally challenging, and I hope that I can be more merciful. I pray for transformation–for all of us!

  6. What a great reminder! How true that while the otherwise-strongly-secular nation gears up for a “rock star” visit, we who have “met the boss” have the opportunity to revitalize our faith in the One True God, and let our lives be transformed by the experience.
    Thanks for the challenging election questions!

    • I was on a conference call with other volunteers and some dignitaries who will be present. So many logistics need to be considered. I can really see how King Jesus calls people to fulfill many and differing roles as the Christ project unfolds. I hope for an outpouring of God’s spirit, and having had a sneak peek at the music that will be part of the Liturgy on Wednesday, I expect my hope is justified!


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