The Vatican flag waves outside St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City Sept. 17, ahead of the visit by Pope Francis (CNS photo/Gregory A. Shemitz).

Prayers for the Pope Upon His Arrival to the United States

As the pope comes…and lands in our nation’s capital, Catholics—indeed all Americans—will be excited to have him in our midst.

As the pope comes…and after his Alitalia plane lands, he will set foot on that soil of the Americas he has never been on.

As the pope comes…he will encounter a vast nation made up of many peoples and many faiths, but together as one seeking the eternal peace that he represents.

As the pope comes…he will see a nation, a people and a culture he has heard much about, but has not known, until now.

As the pope comes…he will get to meet with his brothers and sisters in faith, from all sorts of economic, political and social ways of life.

As the pope comes…he will see grand architecture and majestic dwellings, but he will also see something even more majestic: the people he will meet.

As the pope comes…he will embrace his brothers and sisters in the religious life, from the well-known cardinals to the humblest brother and nun working alongside the poorest of the poor.

As the pope comes…he will meet the people he wants to meet the most: those on the peripheries, the unknown, the powerless, the unconnected, the unwanted and the unloved.

As the pope comes…he will see abundance; while recognizing that there are those who lack the necessities of life or, most likely, have very little of them.

As the pope comes…he will speak—above all—as a pastor to his flock, admonishing them and yet encouraging them.

As the pope comes…he will address an international assembly that is the United Nations where his predecessors have spoken and he will speak on the goals of mercy and of peace.

As the pope comes…he will take time to speak to “the littlest of these,” the children; he will caress the young and the young at heart and speak with tenderness, all the while consoling them and encouraging them.

As the pope comes…he will “see the sights,” yet look deep for authenticity.

As the pope comes…he will be moved by a memorial and by the remembrance we have of the time when two towers fell and thousands died and pray that such hatred never enters a human heart ever again.

As the pope comes…he will see streets lined with people longing for him, hoping for him, loving him for who he is and what he does.

As the pope comes…he will visit our historical sites and meet our governmental leaders and address them with a concern for “our common home.”

As the pope comes…he will visit many places, particularly one of America’s founding cities, “The City of Brotherly Love,” where our independence was declared and “we the people” were formed and where he will remind us of our ideals.

As the pope comes…he will want to experience all and everything in the precious few hours he has among us and maybe wish he had more time to savor that experience.

As the pope comes…he will gather memories that will surely accompany him and stay with him for a long time to come.

And as the pope comes—and when he departs—he will be assured of our prayers and best wishes, and he will be the living repository of our hopes—and our dreams.

Joseph McAuley is an assistant editor at America.