In 2005, April 1st was a Friday too. Six years ago, I venerated the crown of thorns in Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, as John Paul II suffered his last passion.
I know people get tired of me relating every day in April to where I was in 2005. But I can’t help it — those events, those dates, those emotions, are etched on my heart. I can’t hear “April 2nd” without thinking of John Paul II’s death. Each year, I can’t think of the first week of April without thinking of the emotions that rushed through my heart and mind as I stood in line to view John Paul II’s body or while we slept in the street the night before his funeral. The second week of April will always conjure up thoughts of that empty Rome, that barren feeling while we tried to muddle on with our lives shepherdless, those feelings of anticipation as the talk swirled about the conclave, and memories of the late nights in the computer lab, researching the Cardinals and relaying the thoughts we heard on the street back to our family in the United States.
April 16th, reading about Cardinal Ratzinger celebrating his birthday in the midst of meetings with the Cardinals, preparing for the conclave.
April 17th, talk amongst all of us that I was excommunicated for betting on the papal conclave.
April 18th, the blur of events and emotions as we stood in the Square and watched the conclave begin, adding “witnessing papal conclave” and “seeing black smoke” to our list of “firsts” that had grown so rapidly in the month of April.
April 19th, the overwhelming joy and excitement — two words that seem so inadequate when I think back to that day– with which we welcomed our new Pope.
All those days each carried such significance, that each year I can’t help but re-live it all. Perhaps it’s the history major in me, that dates are forever branded in my mind.
Or perhaps it’s that once you experience an intense period of grace, an anointed time, you will never be the same.
For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard… Acts 4:20