National Catholic Register


Guests in Rio

BY Jeanette De Melo

| Posted 7/22/13 at 9:34 AM


The Register, represented by yours truly, arrived in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday morning, July 20.  My travel companions are 11 members of the EWTN television and radio team.  Three Franciscan Missionaries of the Eternal Word are among that group, Father Mark, Father Miguel and Father John Paul.

Although Brazil is said to be the country with the largest Catholic population in the world, 123 million Catholics in a total population of 191 million or 64%, quite a few Brazilian heads have turned to see the friars in full habit walking down the streets of Copacabana. Something tells me Rio is still unaware of what is about to hit them when a tidal wave of pilgrims arrives in joyful force.

Saturday was a day of orientation. We scoped out the international media center near Copacabana Beach, got our media badges, sought to set up our cellular and internet connections and ate at our first rodizio — an all you can eat Brazilian barbeque.

When I sat down to write my first blog last night, my internet connection wasn’t working. Panic began to set in as I imagined a whole week of troubleshooting technology.  Tired and frustrated I put the computers away and decided to close the night in prayer instead. 

I prayed evening prayer with Magnificat and read Sunday’s scriptures.  The first reading is the story of Abraham welcoming three heavenly guests with every ounce of his hospitality and care. The Gospel recounts how Martha and Mary received Jesus into their home. Martha scurries about while Mary rests at Jesus’ feet and listens intently to his every word.

How many times will the story of Martha and Mary strike my head and heart?  I am Martha. My day of orientation in Rio left me frazzled and still logistically unprepared for the week of media coverage ahead of me. I have been worried about many things — because I want to give our readers excellent coverage.  Yet in my prayer July 20, I read this song in Magnificat’s evening prayer:

“Let us listen now with Mary, 
Let good Martha’s grumbling lie, 
See the guest and not the labor,
Lest the Savior Pass us by.

For he speaks the word we long for
To the one who will receive
Love in unfamiliar language,
And with list’ning heart believe.”

Who is the guest in Rio?  More than 1 million pilgrims are expected here during these days of World Youth Day.  They come to be with Pope Francis.  Yet Francis will be the first to tell the youth they should be chanting a name other than his.  Jesus is who Pope Francis seeks to reveal.  Jesus is the guest who shall arrive in every heart that seeks to believe.

I hope the Register’s coverage of World Youth Day brings to our readers the hospitality and desires of those of us who have journey to Rio to sit at the feet of Pope Francis so that he might draw us closer to Jesus Christ.

Christ the Redeemer over looks Rio de Janeiro from Corcovado mountaintop. On Sunday July 21 EWTN and the Register traveled to the famous site.  We prayed during the whole 30-minute van ride that the clouds covering 98-foot, granite statue would blow over.  Sure enough, when we arrived so did the sun and there was Christ the Redeemer with his open arms welcoming us as his guests.  And, by the way, my internet is now working.

Jeanette De Melo is the Register’s editor in chief.