Friday, March 1, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI

Thoughts about the last eight years with Benedict as Pope
As of yesterday, Benedict XVI is no longer Pope; the Sede Vacante has begun.  I remember how strange it seemed when he became pope.  For my age group, John Paul II had "always" been pope.  Even though I wasn't religious at the time, it still seemed pretty surprising not to have John Paul II as Pope anymore.  "Benedict our Pope" in the Eucharistic prayer sounded totally weird.  (And I didn't even go to Mass much then).  A lot has changed for me since then.

During the period while Benedict was pope, I came back to the Church, which is probably the most important fact about my life during that time.  If John Paul II was the Pope of my childhood, Benedict XVI was the Pope of my conversion back to the faith.  This is not to say that him being Pope had anything specifically to do with it.  But his papacy spans from my being an indifferent Catholic to being an active and more faithful Catholic.  And from being a single person to a married person, which probably the second most important thing to happen in my life.  So many of the ideas I had before about the Church, about my life are different now.  Some are more developed, some more mature, some almost opposite (in a good way).  I have learned that conversion is an ongoing journey of faith, and I am still on that journey.  

In April of 2008, my senior year of college, Benedict came to the United States for a visit.  I was able to go with a group of friends and classmates to the youth rally held in Yonkers.  It was a great experience.  After it, my dad encouraged me to write down my memory of the day, while it was still in my mind.  I did, and I still have it.  Here's part of it:

            When it gets closer to time, we all gather near the center aisle [of the field], thinking that’s where he’ll come up in the pope-mobile.  We watch him in the seminary on the big screens, and hear that he is meeting with “an ailing cardinal,” and thought it must be Cardinal Dulles.  (Speaking with a colleague at work Monday night, he confirmed that it was.  The Holy Father jubilantly had gone into the Cardinal’s room, saying “Your Eminence!”).  We finally see him arriving in the pope-mobile! He comes around the back, from the seminary.  But he doesn’t go up the aisle. He goes around the side. Our side. Everyone runs! We all run across the field to the other fence and swarm around it.  My friend caught this on video. It was just surreal. I will never forget running across that field.
            Then he goes up to the stage, and the crowd was cheering like crazy.  Several different chants came up throughout the whole time, "Papa," "Viva Papa," "Benedict 16 Benedict," [that one still makes me laugh] and "We Love You" (of course).  We tried to start "B-16," but it didn’t really catch on.  The whole thing was like a prayer service and he addressed us.  His address was great, I need to find a transcript [darn, I don't think I ever did].  When he spoke to us it was very personal.  It wasn’t only him as Pope, it was him as a person.  We also sang Happy Birthday to him in German, and he specifically thanked us for doing that and gave us “A+ for pronunciation.” 

1 comment:

  1. Amazing those experiences...I still remember like it was yesterday seeing Pope B16 outside the opera house in Sydney in WYD 2008 drive by in the popemobile...such a blessing he was and is to the Church!