Face to face with Pope Francis

IMG-20150926-WA0003Putting the pieces together after the historic visit of Pope Francis to the Americas in September is taking some time. There was so much expectation, so much excitement, so much hype, and so much security that perhaps one runs the risk of not really being in contact with the event at all.

So many people said that they would rather watch on TV, so as to see things more clearly and “up close”, but then enter the world editors and producers (even the most respectful and pious ones) interpreting the words and events of a Papal trip. I decided that a personal and direct encounter with the Pope is the only kind that would fit this occasion. Call me a “Papal Snob” but edited coverage and even Jumbotrons just don’t do it for me. My M.O. is always to get as personally close to the Pope as possible. It’s what they did to Jesus. Fortunately, I was able to be chaplain for our WarwickHouse youth group trip to Philadelphia. All of us got to see and hear the Vicar of Christ live, and this made all the difference.

The pilgrimage’s highlight was the Mass on the “Rocky Steps” with the Holy Father (and about 4000 other priests and bishops) on Sunday, September 27. The event was moving and tiring, but it afforded the opportunity to know I was close to the Pope. Even if I couldn’t see him well, we knew we were praying with him, and with him the whole Church (“Where Peter is, there is the whole Church”, says the ancient soundbite). But there’s more… After the Mass I got to see Pope Francis close up on his way to the airport. To see his face, joyful and tired at the same time and to receive another mobile Papal Blessing (this time from a Fiat 500) was unforgettable and worth everything. I know he saw our faces too, and it is consoling to hear his comments on Shepherd One returning to Rome:

This is a bit personal, but I have to be honest. When the plane leaves after a visit, I think of the faces of all those people. I get the urge to pray for them and to say to the Lord: “I came here to do some good; perhaps I have done wrong, forgive me. But watch over all those people who saw me, who thought about the things I said, who heard me, even those who criticized me, all of them…”. This is what I feel. I don’t know. That’s what I feel. But it’s a bit – sorry – personal…

If your eyes are still dry, check out the video I put together. Sorry, it’s my interpretation… 

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