Sunday, April 20, 2008

The NYC Papal Visit

I only learned about the Pope's U.S. visit about two weeks ago, and felt ashamedly ignorant that I didn't know of this news sooner. Papal mass tickets were granted through lottery, and I bet getting one felt like winning the lottery indeed!

Last Friday, A and I were glued to NY1's coverage of the Pope's departure from Washington D.C. and his arrival to NYC. Even if we were just seeing him on television, there was this overwhelming feeling of his holy presence that truly touched us. It's hard to explain. He exudes love, and warmth, peace, joy and blessing among others... you just feel like crying. And so we 'followed' him until he got to the United Nations building for his scheduled speech to the General Assembly. As it was getting close to 'tchukoy's nap time, I switched to his lullabye cd and missed the Pope's UN speech.

Saturday, I was scheduled to be in the city for the Young Child expo. I would then meet up with A, B, and Mama later during the day to attend M's 1st birthday party in Bayonne. The expo's venue was at the Hilton Hotel on 6th Ave. and 54th St. , a few blocks away from St. Patrick's Cathedral where the Pope was scheduled to celebrate mass at 9:15am. I was out of the subway by 8:40am, and as I walked towards 54th St., I saw many people headed towards 5th ave. Police had already closed several blocks of streets towards 5th, and only residents or individuals with tickets were granted access. (Now I regretted not bringing the camera that I saw on our dining table.) I wanted to photograph what I was seeing. I also felt excited to be in the same vicinity where the Pope was. Using my camera phone, I did get some low res pictures of that morning scene. Better than nothing.

By 11:45 am, I was out of the Hilton and in the streets of Manhattan... just wandering... and wondering where the Pope was at that time. I decided to go to F.A.O. Schwartz to see if I can add a toy to M's gift (we got her clothes). I don't know why I headed west towards 7th ave. when F.A.O. was on 5th. I turned the next block and headed back. I passed by Carnegie Deli, and some police barricades. A couple more steps heading east and lo and behold, I realized that the Popemobile's Motorcade route is along 5th! W-o-w! I'm gonna be where the action is. True enough, 5th Ave. was crowded, the 'fences' were filled, and people crammed the sidewalks. More and more people headed that way. The atmosphere was definitely festive. The crowd was enthusiastic. People seemed joyfully anxious. Smiles were often exchanged. I was thrilled at the thought that I may catch a glimpse of the Pope. I didn't know then what time the motorcade was going to start. I asked a cop, and he said he wasn't sure. Anyway, I was too happy to be walking up and down 5th avenue, taking "it" all in. I did a quick stop at F.A.O., but it was really quick. I couldn't take my mind off what was going on outside. Standing with the crowd, all I felt was peace, happiness, and gratitude. I felt so blessed.

A informed me that the motorcade starts at 1:15pm. He'll pick me up on the way to Jersey, and I was to head down to 36th and 7th. Awww... I won't see the Pope! I may have missed him, but I really felt him in my heart and soul.

Today, we heard the 11:30am mass in our parish church. Earlier, we watched the Pope's visit to ground zero. At 2:30, we tuned in to the Papal Mass at Yankee Stadium. As spiritual leader of the Roman Catholic church, it is not surprising how Pope Benedict XVI has this power to connect to you... whether you are near or far.

Even if I didn't get to see the Holy Father in person, I will always remember his NYC visit to be a very spiritually uplifting experience.

Note: Picture, from the Archdiocese of NY.

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