From Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. until 8:45 this morning, Washington, D.C. was blessed with the presence of the Holy Father, the extraordinary Pope Benedict XVI.
President George W. Bush and First Lady Laura Bush and daughter Jenna Bush were at Andrews Air Force Base to greet our beloved Pontiff, the first time the President has so honored a visitor to our country. Through the duration of the Pope’s visit and whenever he was in public, there were enthusiastic and vocal welcomes extended to him. On Wednesday, the Pope met with President Bush at the White House and was treated to 2 enthusiastic renditions of “Happy Birthday”, one planned and one spontaneous. He was also given a 21-gun salute – that salute was clearly audible from my office, since we are in an office building with windows that still open (and it was a beautiful Spring day so a lot of the attorneys were taking advantage of that pleasant bonus) just 2 blocks from the White House. I discovered first hand that a 21-gun salute is LOUD! I mean I knew that in theory – but Wednesday I experienced it in real time!
I will be the first one to proclaim loud and clear that for the three days of the Pope’s visit, this holy man blessed this sometimes extremely unholy city with his charm, his humility, his humanity and kindness, together with a demonstrable deep faith in God. Yesterday I was working on a brief all day for my boss, but the nature of this project was that I could keep the Pope's Mass playing in the background throughout its duration. When one round of edits was complete, I could bring the Mass to the foreground and watch and listen to a remarkable event, frequently with moist eyes. The Pope's homily was profoundly moving.
We had heard dire predictions of terrible traffic problems in the weeks leading to the Papal Visit. They really didn’t materialize. In fact, traffic was less snarled than it had been in the prior few weeks when the Cherry Blossom Festival was going on. And there was a sense of joy in Washington, D.C. that I haven’t really noticed before. I know that really listening to the Pope’s words generated in me a sense of rediscovered spiritual lightness.
All the above being said, the one fly in the ointment was, per usual, the chattering classes of the mainstream media beginning with the appalling Katie Couric and continuing through numerous commentators who displayed their complete ignorance of Catholicism and, worse, seemed to be proud of their stupidity!
So I will reiterate what I have said multiple times over the past few weeks when non-Catholics have had the effrontery to tell me what changes the Catholic Church must make in order to satisfy their (non-Catholic) sensibilities! It isn't going to happen. We are who we are. Deal.
God bless, everyone, and have a great weekend. I’m heading into this weekend with a little Papal Energy Boost which hopefully will translate into an immaculate house and lots of clean laundry by Monday morning. And none of this will interfere with my quality time with the remarkable Sam, my 26 pound cat (yes, he's lost a bit of pudge folks) because after all, our beloved Pontiff, Papa Ratzi, loves cats! And Mozart!