As some of you may have heard, the Pope was in town a few weeks ago. I live in Washington, DC, and I have to admit I followed his visit closely – partially because my faithsharing group was doing an action around his visit (a story that might be worth a future post) and partially because I was absolutely fascinated with the Papal-mania that was springing up around me.
As an alum of Catholic University, I received email after email detailing CUA’s involvement in the visit. One email contained a video reel of students expressing their (only positive, of course) thoughts on the Pope coming to campus. One student said this, “…He is like descending from Peter and he is like God’s right hand man – right here – and so him coming to CUA is gonna change us so much…”
I only mention this statement because I think that this is what many people believe – especially many students at CUA. As Catholic Christians, every week at Mass we reaffirm our belief that Jesus is at the right hand of God and through Communion we are all the body of Christ and through that ritual we are changed. It certainly does not take one man on a three hour visit to CUA to create that change. On another note, we may need to do an education campaign at CUA about the lineage from Peter.
In an article in the Guardian, Jo-Ellen Can Nostrand from Long Island was quoted as saying “He’s the closest thing to God!” In many articles I read or conversations I overheard throughout his visit, this sentiment of the Pope being the embodiment of God was overwhelmingly disturbing. Each time I heard or read this, the song “This Little Light of Mine” popped into my head. I kept thinking don’t they remember that everyone – from the Pope to their neighbor to themselves – has the Spirit of Life within them.
I attended the Mass at Nationals Stadium. At first I didn’t want to go, but then I thought of it as an opportunity to pray with those with whom I both agree and disagree. I sat in the “Nun Section.” There were many young sisters in full habit in the section. When the Pope circled the outfield in his Mercedes-Benz, many of the young sisters ran up to the first row. One young woman came back in tears. Another looked as if she was about to faint. My co-worker leaned over to me and said, “I guess to them – this is like their rock concert.”
Certainly the Papal visit was an exciting time for Catholic Christians in the United States. However, I was left wondering why – to many – the presence of God is easier seen in an 81 year-old man in red Prada shoes than in the person sitting next to them. Really, every time anyone in the world walks out into the street, we should be throwing a parade and swooning in awe because we are all the embodiment of God.