I don’t know what to say. As special as yesterday was in seeing Pope Francis up close, today was 100 times better. And the Papal Mass was simply amazing. It was the most spiritual and special and peaceful and beautiful thing I have ever witnessed. I’m not sure I can put it into words right now what today meant, and what we felt. So a lot of this post may be random thoughts. I’ll be able to put some more elegant thoughts and words together after my 10 hour drive home tomorrow. 🙂
We got there early today, and after shuffling around found a perfect spot right at 21st street and Ben Franklin Parkway. The crowds were sooo much bigger today, and people were crowding in. But we had our spot by the fence in prime position for the Papal parade on Pope Francis’ way to celebrate Mass. And when he got to us, he stopped, right in front of us and the secret service brought two babies out of the crowd, one right over my son and the Pope kissed them! Just a beautiful and amazing sight.
The motorcade then continued on and went to the main stage and the altar for Mass. We all moved to the center of the parkway now, and we had a great view of the altar and stage, even though it was a half mile away. But thankfully they had jumbo-trons dispersed throughout so we had a great view. The music and procession started, and it was time for Mass.
I was a little concerned about the whole Mass. Would we be able to fully experience it? Would it be super loud and would we be able to concentrate? Would we be able to receive communion? But once the procession started and the Pope did the Sign of the Cross, it was literally Mass as normal – with 1 million people. You could hear a pin drop. It is louder at my parish’s 9:30AM Mass than it was here with 1 million people! We were able to hear everything, take part in everything, and it is truly spiritual when you hear 1 million people recite “And With Your Spirit”, and sing the Psalm response and the “Lords Prayer”. The Pope said much of the Mass in English, with some Latin and Spanish mixed in. He said his homily in Spanish, but there is simultaneous translation on the video boards, so it was completely seamless. There was an energy and a grace here today that I have never experienced.
In his homily, Pope Francis largely spoke about doing the little things in our lives, especially in our families. Little gestures and acts that can make each others day better and easier. Embracing our families at home and in our communities and not getting caught up with the things that may seem big at the time, but do not matter. Loving each other regardless. Such a simple, but effective message.
And then we had Communion. I wasn’t sure how that would work, but hundreds of priests and deacons filed out from the alter down both sides of the parkway escorted by Papal ushers each carrying a white and yellow umbrella with the Vatican insignia covering the priest with the Hosts, and everyone simply moved to the edges in lines to receive the Eucharist. It was so smooth, and it was so meaningful and spiritual to receive Holy Communion at this Mass.
It was just a great day. There were so many special graces on this trip – many that I will write about in the coming days when I sum things up.
But a few general observations:
Our Catholic Church and our Faith is amazing! I truly experienced the global church this week, and it was truly beautiful to see what 1 billion of us around the globe share.
God is truly with us and a part of us. He is in our marriages and our children and our extended family relationships. Without this, we have nothing. We don’t fully have God. We saw so many families from so many backgrounds and it made us realize we are all in this together. That was literally the case today when people were pushing and crowding to see the Pope! 🙂 But, we were all there for love and peace.
My son Joseph. I have not written much about him this week. This was quite an experience for Kristy and I, let alone a 7 year old. But he handled this week like a trooper and he really embraced it the entire week. He met kids from as far away as New Zealand, and learned that nuns and priests can be kind of cool! He learned a little more about our faith and if nothing else, learned too that he is part of one global family, and one global faith. And he got to see and experience Pope Francis, up close and personal! He had a front row seat for both times we saw him, and he took pictures and videos and experienced the same love and excitement and Holy Spirit that we all did. And when asked about his favorite part of today, he didn’t say the view of Pope Francis kissing babies 10 feet away, or the flags we got, or his other souvenirs – he said it was the Mass, because it was cool!
He gets it.
So I guess I’m not complete speechless, but I am so blown away at this experience that this is all I can put into words right now. This is just the tip of the iceberg. Hopefully through my postings in the last week you’ve gotten to experience a little of what we saw and heard. Hopefully through our pilgrimage, you were able to take a little pilgrimage of your own.
In the coming days, once things simmer a bit in my mind, I will sum all my thoughts up from this entire pilgrimage and share them with you and what this truly meant to my family and I.
In the meantime, God Bless, and thanks for reading!