Pope picture-palooza!

PopeBenedictXVI.jpgFor those who hadn’t heard, I was fortunate enough to be given a ticket to attend the Papal Mass in DC Thursday morning. I’ve put the pictures I took (or those that turned out halfway decently) over on Flickr.

General impressions:

1) I understand why my pastor and associate pastor, despite having been invited were content to watch on TV from home. It was a long and exhausting day.
2) As a liturgical purist, some parts were frustrating as they didn’t follow traditional norms. A friend of mine and I debated this somewhat yesterday and while I understand some of the logic behind some of the changes, I’m still not thrilled.
3) I was frankly too tired to get much out of the Pope’s homily. Plus, I learn better by reading, so I’ll be reading it once I have time. It was essentially about understanding our purpose in the world and centering our life around Jesus, returning to a favorite theme of the Pope’s: Christianity, at its core, is an encounter with a person, not a collection of abstract ideas. Christ is at the center of everything we do, or should be. (I was very exhausted by this trip. Woke up at 1 AM to get ready for the bus. Got to the stadium about 6:15. Walked around a bit before Mass. Got home at 5:15-ish. Fell asleep at 7:15. Woke up by a phone call at 7:30. Fell right back asleep and slept until 4:30 AM. Got out of bed, watched The Office and Scrubs from the previous night on TiVo. Worked for two hours. Fell back asleep for an hour and a half. Fortunately, I was working from home. Even after that, when my dad stopped by, he took one look at me and asked what was wrong. Apparently, I still looked like hell.)
4) The DC government, given the fact it is regularly handling large events, should really have done a better job at coordinating these things, especially the departure. My mother and I walked 5 blocks, at the direction of police officers, to catch the shuttle back to RFK, where our bus from Delaware dropped us off, only to find out that the buses parked there shouldn’t have been picking us up there. Fortunately, the drivers had pity on us and did pick us up despite it not being protocol. Similarly in the morning, our bus driver was told to follow directions contradicting the directions he had been given earlier. A complete mess.
5) The emphasis on diversity was bit nauseating. We’re Catholics, we’re supposed to diverse. Any diocese outside of the whitest areas in the country (Vermont, I’m looking at you) will necessarily have a tremendous amount of diversity. We’re the universal church; let’s focus on what unites us: membership in the Church founded by Christ founded on the Rock and Peter and his successors. I didn’t have so much of a problem with doing parts of the Mass in other languages. (Although, let’s be honest, how many speakers of Igbo, do you really think there are in the Archdiocese of DC? Interesting side note: the first two results of a Google search for IGBO turn up WikiPedia articles on the language and the people called Igbo. The third: The International Gay Bowling Association.)
6) The lines at the concession stands for souvenirs were insanely long. Why not just buy them online at PopeVisit2008.com?
7) It was very nice to sing some traditional music. When the Pope arrived, we sang “Holy God, We Praise Thy Name,” which is just a kick-ass song. We (well, some of us) sang verse 3 in German in honor of the Pope’s heritage. That was fun too. And “Pange Lingua” during Communion was very nice too.

It was nice to go to, but I’ll think twice about going to another one. It’s the sort of thing you should do if you have the opportunity, but once is probably enough. Although, if I ever have kids, I may want to take them if I can.