A few observations from this (early) morning:
1. One of the most striking things about any Papal Mass is the presence of the universal Church. In its full splendor, impossible to ignore or miss, is the width and breadth and height and depth of the universal Church. The young, the elderly, the families, the handicapped, the dignitaries, the homeless, the cardinals, the seminarians, the babies, the bishops. Polish youth wedged next to Italian nuns. Families from the US sharing cobblestones with religious communities from Brazil. This morning it was there, from the steps of St. Peter’s to the Tiber River, in Piazza Navona and Piazza Farnese, along Via dei Fori Imperiali and outside the Colosseum.
Behold the Church. In her splendor, in her universality, in her holiness, in her pilgrimage.
2. History has never seen two Pope canonized in the same ceremony, much less two Popes present at the canonization of two Popes. It was one of those moments when you realize you’re alive at a very special time in the Church… the times they write about in history books.
3. It was worth the early wake up call. I actually got a decent amount of sleep, since I went to bed early with a headache. It’s now the end of the day Sunday and I’m feeling fine. I took a quick nap after the canonization, before I got ready for morning Mass, but other than that, I’ve been up all day and it doesn’t even feel like I woke up in the middle of the night to watch history.
Mom was awake too, so we shared commentary via text message. I marveled at the change in technology since I was in Rome nine years ago. Now I was following along the ceremony with the same booklet the people had in their hands in those cute little Vatican worship aids – except mine was on my iPad. I was living the moment with friends via pictures on Twitter and newsva on Instagram. It was almost like being there.
Well, almost. Except that I had slept in my own bed and was sitting on my couch drinking hot tea and eating a mini Columba. So… not quite like being there.
4. It was strange to enter the real world later that morning and see everything go on as usual. Not only had I been up several hours longer than everyone else, I had just witnessed history. Why was everything normal? Why wasn’t everyone singing and dancing and laughing and partying? It was like I had dreamed it all, and everyone else had missed out.
5. The thoughts I had during Mass on JPII’s first feast day returned. Both John XXIII and John Paul II are in heaven, but to many of us, they aren’t just paintings on a holy card or statues of plaster. They were seen with our eyes, touched with our hands, heard with our hearts. Sainthood is possible, ladies and gentlemen. Sanctity has been in our midst. Holiness has laughed with us, has cried with us, has lived with us…. has challenged us.
“Consult not your fears, but your hopes and your dreams.
Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.
Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.”
-Pope St. John XXIII
“We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures;
we are the sum of the Father’s love for us and our real capacity
to become the image of His Son.”
-Pope St. John Paul II