Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Day with the Pope

So, the Pope died. Let me start by saying that I was raised Catholic, Hub was raised Catholic, and Princess was baptized Catholic. But we're not religious, really. And by not religious, I mean we don't even go to church on Christmas. If nothing else, I feel that I am pretty true to myself and not a hypocrite, so I feel like its a big lie to just go to church on the biggie holidays and forget it the rest of the year. Personally, I find it more important to be a good person, try your best to do the right things, raise a good daughter, etc. That's just me.

But I digress. Hub and I went to Italy in 2000, to Venice, Florence, and Rome. It was a wonderful vacation, and we saw nearly everything each of those cities had to offer. In Rome, we stayed on the side of the river that St. Peter's is on, so each morning while trekking to the city proper, we would cross the bridge and see the Basilica, large and looming and beautiful. We had a choice to make while in Rome - we could take a big chunk of our Sunday and go to the Vatican for mass and the blessing by the Pope but then have to come back another day to see the Sistine Chapel as its not open on Sundays. Or we could skip the mass and the blessing and come back another day and tour everything at once.

We chose to skip the mass and blessing, being non-religious. We came back on Tuesday. We stood in line a while for the Sistine Chapel, oooh'ed and aah'ed over that, then came to St. Peter's Square and walked around, then toured the Basilica itself. It was beautiful. On our way out, we hear a ruckus - what's going on? We head toward the church itself and what do we see, but Pope John Paul II heading up to the front of the church in this little vehicle-type-thingee to perform a mass. Unscheduled. We saw all kinds of people there, old nuns crying, young priests in awe at their mentor, Italians just out for their regular daily mass.

And then there was us. We, too, were in awe. We didn't think we would be. I mean, this is a guy we generally disagree with (no birth control? no choice? no women priests? no marriage for priests? abuse of children? gah!). But we both had chills at seeing him in person and fairly up close. Its hard to explain why we were feeling this way about someone we truly saw as "just a guy" and who, moments earlier, we were complaining about while looking at the plethora of expensive artworks in the Sistine Chapel ("if he would just sell 5 of these paintings, think of how many hungry people he could feed!").

So, anyway, I don't know exactly what my point is. I just wanted to share my experience with the Pope and say that although my feelings on the church and the papacy are pretty clear to me, the man definitely had a presence and had an effect on us. Rest in Peace.


Raehan said...

I saw the Pope's car drive by when he visited the states in the 1970s. I was going to Catholic school and I think the whole school went to wait on the street and watch the car drive by. That's pretty funny now that I think about it. I did not get chills, but maybe now i would.

I don't like the direction this Pope has taken the church but I do like that he stood up against many injustices in the world and many wars. I wish the world would have listened more to those issues.

Anyway, thanks for your story and thanks for stopping by my site.

Kevin said...

As a very lapsed catholic myself (gave it up for lent) I understand how you could be so surprisingly impressed. I do feel he was a good man who tried to adhere to his values, whether I share them or not. I definately feel the loss on some basement level I'm not so in touch with.

Michelle sent me.