Thursday, April 17, 2008

Rocky & Dymphna go to Mass with the Pope!

Well, us and 47,000 others. I have to say that the National's Stadium is an excellent venue. It's almost as terrific as Camden Yards. Next, I have to say that taking the Metro was almost ridiculously easy. Rocky and I spent the night at my mother's house so we'd already be in DC by 5AM when the Metro trains started running. The trains were packed but it was the happiest crowd I've ever seen. Everyone was delighted, polite and kind to one another. We ran into a seminarian friend and his classmates.

I chatted with sisters from the Nashville Dominicans, the Servants of the Lord and the Sisters of the Assumption. Wonderful, upbeat young women. At 6AM confessions started and we got in line, which moved quickly. After that we headed up to our seats and bought souveneirs. Our seats were so high we actually above the Secret Service snipers. No problem, it just gave us more of a veiw.

There was a happy buzz of excitment in the air as the priests, bishops and cardinals streamed in and took their seats. The music was not great but the sound system at National's Stadium was so poor that I didn't hear much of it. The best thing was soprano Denyce Graves who managed to overcome the poor sound. And then suddenly on the jumbo tron we saw a Secret Service agent walk down a corridor. A cheer went up because right behind him was the Popemobile. Cameras went off, people waved and cried. The Holy Father looked so genuinely happy to see us. He did one lap around the field and then left to get vested. He's quick for 81 and soon the holy sacrifice of the Mass began.

The sound system failed miserably and we heard not a word of the pope's homily. One thing struck me as sad. Marty Haugen's music has become the "official" music of the American church. The dude isn't even Catholic and his stuff isn't very good or singable but it's all most of us know. Sad. It seemed to be a mediocre offering.

The choirs. What can I say about the choirs? There were four or five and it was a mess. The whole thing was a weird jazz/gospel/ mariachi type mishmash of styles to show how diverse America is and was it more like a free concert in the park than liturgical music. The children's choir, bless their innocent hearts was very good. Too bad we could barely hear them.

Finally, after the dross and muck came pure gold. Placido Domingo sang Panic Angelicus and miraculously the problems with the sound were fixed. He was magnificent and Pope Benedict seemed to really enjoy it. He even got up and went over to Placido who was really emotional when he knelt to kiss the Holy Father's hand.

There were no slip ups with Communion that I saw. Most people recieved in the hand but I didn't notice anyone walking away with the Eucharist. I wasn't the only woman to wear a veil, nor was I the youngest. Neat. After Mass the pope was mobbed by delighted people. He blessed us all and any holy objects we had with us and left for the Nat's dugout.

Afterward Rocky and I took photos and had a hot dog. The concession stands opened right after the pope left the field. Again, I've never seen such a huge and thoroughly happy crowd. I don't like outdoor mega masses but this was as decently done as it can be.

Upon leaving the stadium we visited St. Vincent DePaul a small, very lovely church near the stadium. It is run by the Josephite order and is a mostly black parish. Then we took Metro back to my Mama's house. A beautiful day. I hope the Holy Father gets some sleep tonight. He's got a grueling schedule for an 81 year old.

May God bless him and keep him with us for many more years.