Seeing Francis…

Pilgrims walking from Calle Vito Cruz to Calle Quirino, Luneta and UST

I knew it’s not going to be easy to get near Pope Francis but I had to try because in 1995 I failed to see Pope John Paul II. After standing in Quirino Avenue for 5 hours (some had been camping there since Saturday and Friday) near the Papal Nuncio I did saw the successor of Peter—a fleeting glimpse that lasted a few seconds. It was like seeing a bright comet—the car he was in (a volkswagen family van) went by so pass I was not able to snap a photo. This Papal visit reminds all how deeply Catholic the country remains is amidst the increasing secularization of our society.

I don’t think the adoration we Catholics have for this man could be explained or understood by non-Catholics. How I wish everyone could share the experience and joy of being led and inspired by this man.

I cry easy and his homily in Tacloban made me tear up—I wept with those Filipinos who lost their families while Pope Francis assured them that Christ understands them for He, like them, suffered too.

His message was sincere; straight from his heart. How I wished most of us understood him in his native tongue. But I believe his message, despite requiring translation, was felt and understood by all Filipinos. The image of people weeping, while drenched in rain, with their pastor in that cold and windy day is one that would be in our heart and minds forever.

Also, that Pope Francis delivered his homily in Spanish was a bonus. I’m a student of this language; its speakers would tell you they use to “para hablar con Dios”. Hopefully one day we’ll all speak this language again.

You expect people to look for shelter when it starts raining but these folks won’t budge. I’ve never seen these many cops in my life.

I’m not a religious person; although I study and research the tradition and history of the Catholic Church in this country, I do not consider myself a good Church member. I continue to struggle following its teachings and traditions. The past few days of the Pope’s visit has inspired me to examine my Catholic faith. Francis’s words has made me look into my flaws and weaknesses—this is my takeaway from this momentous visit of the Church’s highest leader.

While waiting for the Pope to leave his official residence, I witnessed some extraordinary kindness from the people around me. I saw policemen carrying babies and looking after them so they could be nearer where the Pope’s convoy would pass. There were people helping senior citizens—some sharing candies and snacks.

But of course there were those who just went there to heckle, take selfies and complaint. There was this woman who even started shouting at the police for allowing some people (they were babysitting their babies and little children for crying out loud) to go in front. These folks missed the point of the exercise! People like these are irksome but hey, mercy and compassion right? Patience is a virtue that’s easy to have when the Pope is around 🙂

Also, it’s refreshing to read nothing but good news about the Church these past few days. Even the Damaso shouting anti-Catholics took their day-off’s (they’ll be back of course). In social media all comments are positive! Never thought I’ll see that especially when the subject posted has something to do with religion. Such is the uniting power of this popular Pope.


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