Saturday, September 26, 2015

What about you?

We left home before 7 this morning, arriving at an empty parting lot on Villanova's campus headed to hear the Pope speak on Independence Mall.  Travel was smooth, though the train we were directed to board at 69th street made a loop and deposited us at — 69th Street.  We switched again and were soon at 2nd & Market in Philly.  No waiting at security, and we set our blanket out on the grass.

At 8 am in the morning, view of stage utterly blocked by
press bleachers.  Not Philadelphia's finest moment.
Next to us were visitors from Maryland and Seattle.  They had brought the liturgy of the hours along to pray, so we ended up praying it together there on the lawn. It was a lovely way to start this event.

What was not so lovely was the view. The press area had been set up between the standing crowd and the reserved seating directly in front of the Pope. This meant that at an event where we were about 300 or so feet away from the Pope you couldn't see him, even as a dot.  People who had driven from as far away as Montreal were very disappointed. The Jumbotrons were set low, so even though I was about 20 feet away from one, it was hard to see in the press of people when the Pope was speaking.

New friends with whom to pray Morning Prayer.
Since I really wanted to see the Pope in person, not on a screen, I decided to camp out on Market street along the barricades, as the word was the Pope would come down Market on his way to the event. So there I stayed, from 8ish until indeed the Pope drove by at 4:20.  He was 10 feet away, it was amazing.  But equally amazing was the wonderful group of people from Puerto Rico I stood with.  There was such tender care taking going on, including for me.  Water bottles appeared and snacks were shared.  Math Man had thought to bring one of those tripod camp seats, which I had brought up to the barricade to sit on, but which ended up providing relief for the older members of the group. Places were carefully saved for those who had to use the bathroom.

I did two media interviews: one at the start of the day and one at the end. I met Giovanni, whose mother stood next to me on Market, who was singing for the Papal Mass the next day.   I played peek-a-boo with two delightful kids across the street from me.  I prayed.  I read a book about hermits and recluses.  I watched the clouds.

I loved watching the Mass, and hearing the voices of those around singing the responses, the Sanctus in Latin, the Amen.  I read the text of his homily on line!  What about you, he asked. How will you respond?

What was the Philly Pops playing as the Pope emerged from Independence Hall, wondered the college aged people standing next to me.  "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Aaron Copland.  Not some Star Trek theme.  No, I assured them.

I strained to listen to every word of the Pope's talk, on religious freedom and immigrants.  We are the voices of the those at the margins.  We are voice for the transcendent.

I loved listening to all the voice praying the Our Father, Pope Francis' voice gradually fading out, and ours carrying it.  What about us?  Can we carry the work forward as well as the prayer?

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