Praying with 46,000: Mass with Pope Benedict XVI
As we wound our way through the crowds, out of the stadium and towards the Metro my husband turned to me and said, “So what are you going to write on your blog about this?”
I had been thinking the same thing. Less than two hours had passed since Mass concluded and Pope Benedict XVI, along with hundreds of cardinals, bishops and priests, had processed out of the stadium amid the cheers of more than 46,000 people.
And I was thinking about how to convey this experience and my feelings to my readers. It is a delicate thing, this post. And I’m not sure I’ll get it right, that I'll get my feeling out exactly as I want to, but I’m going to try.
As a serious Nats fan, I've made the trek from my house to the Metro to the new stadium several times. But that morning I did it with extra anticipation in my heart—I wasn’t going to a baseball stadium but to a church to sing and pray and celebrate Mass with 46,000 fellow Catholics and His Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI.
Oh I do love a Mass. All the pomp and circumstance of a Catholic Mass. You know the songs, you know the prayers. You know what will happen next. And yet, each time it is brand new.
The only thing I’ve ever done in sync with 46,000 before is cheer at a football game. And for some people that’s a religious experience, isn’t it?
Singing the familiar songs (gotta’ love the Mass of Creation music!) and saying the prayers with so many others, I literally couldn’t hear my own voice—and that’s saying something because I sure was belting it out!
Straining to understand the German-accented English of the homily, I was completely focused on each and every word uttered by Pope Benedict. (Though I will admit there were several strings of words that I just couldn’t decipher). His message truly moved me—he urged hope and a return to faithfulness. Along with priests and religious, he also thanked married people and parents, and confirmed our important role in society. He even addressed the failings of the Church in the sexual abuse scandal. I was proud that he did that and proud that he later met with some victims privately. For so many, that terrible tragedy has made them lose faith and move away from the Church. I believe his words—and acknowledgement—were needed; I hope they begin some important healing.
After the English portion of the sermon, Pope Benedict addressed his “hermanos y hermanas” in Spanish. The crowd went wild! I believe his Spanish was more fluid and less heavily accented in German than his English was. I don’t know exactly what he said but it certainly was well-received and followed by the only chants of the day—“Viva Papa! Viva Papa! Viva Papa!”
Overall, it was an amazing and emotional experience. I am so grateful to have been lucky enough to attend. I pray that I am able to carry the blessing of the experience in my heart for a long time to come.
This is an original Post to DC Metro Moms. When not attending Mass or baseball games at Nationals Stadium, Aimee Olivo blogs about life with a toddler at Smiling Mama.