St. Mary’s Cathedral in Rangoon (Yangon, Myanmar) might be a bit of a challenge to His Holiness when he visits on Wednesday and Thursday.

First of all, the Burmese customarily remove their shoes indoors.

And, as church is God’s home, the Burmese follow suit there are well.

Everyone is barefoot. Celebrants, acolytes, lectors, ushers, congregants, penitents and communicants.

Personally, I was highly reluctant to cast off my shoes but I decided, when in Burma, take your shoes off and stop being a baby about it.

And there I was, suddenly a half-inch shorter and a great deal more self-conscious in the midst of my similarly unshod brethren, who took it all in stride.

One must wonder if the Pope will “go native” in Burma.

However, the Burmese are such gentle and kind people, I suspect that if the Pope were to go shoeless or perhaps come in wearing muddy commando boots, these wonderful, accommodating people will smile and nod and say, “Excellent choice, Your Holiness!” either way.

The second hurdle the Pope will have to negotiate is the fact that the Cathedral is home to a flock of sparrows that has noisily taken up residence inside the sanctuary. A loud out-of-tune organ couldn’t drown out the raucous birdsong. At moments, I thought it quite pretty.

Of course, this is not without Scriptural precedent:

Even the sparrows have built a nest, and the swallows have their own home; they keep their young near Your altars, Lord Almighty, my king and my God. (Ps 84:3)

St. Francis of Assisi would certainly approve. In fact, he would probably sing along to the tune the birds’ chorus.

The third and final challenge to His Holiness and His patience is the sweltering Burmese heat coupled with the layers of clerical garb Pope Francis will be required to wear. If you’ve not been to Burma, I highly recommend it as you’ll be hard-pressed to find more wonderful people than those in that country. However, be forewarned: you will perspire profusely and require multiple showers and changes of clothing every day.

People here, both Catholic and non-Catholic, wait in hushed, breathless, faith-filled silence for the Pope’s arrival.

And here in Rangoon (Yangon) all around me, people are arriving by bus, plane, train and on foot—some even sleeping on the streets just to get a glimpse of the Vicar of Christ. The excitement is palatable. It can even be seen on the faces of children as their parents and catechists tell them of what to expect this week.

Keep Burma, the Burmese and Pope Francis in your prayers.