Like everyone else in the country, I've been glued to my TV/Laptop/Twitter account this week watching, listening and reading the coverage of Pope Francis' Inaugural visit to the U.S. I think I've talked to every person I could possibly know about Pope Francis in the coming months, and I reached a point where I couldn't keep my cool when talking about him, even at work.
I live in Philadelphia, so needless to say the City of Brotherly has been eagerly anticipating this visit for over year now. I've seen the preparations slowly unfolding at first, and now we as a city are in full-on Francis prep. The Benjamin Franklin Parkway is lined with banners decorated with Pope Francis' face and his messages of hope. The Convention Center is filled with pilgrims attending the World Meeting of Families Congress this week. Barricades and Jumbotrons and directional signs and posters are everywhere across the city. Regardless if you are Catholic or not, Philadelphia knows that it is preparing for something special.
Watching Pope Francis' speech to the joint session of Congress today reiterated that point to the rest of the country. This is something historic. This is something special. The fact that members on both sides of the aisle gave him a standing ovation on both his entrance and exit from the chamber helped others to realize that his message is universal, for all people, and all he wants is to help humanity. His message today made it more and more visible to everyone that he is God's servant, a vessel for the Holy Spirit and a messenger to all of us. He didn't shy away from topics. People have been waiting to see which side of the aisle he would side with more, and one reporter finally pointed out that he was neither Democratic nor Republican, he's Catholic. He spoke of Jesus and His Church and what it means to respect the dignity of humanity in all forms. He spoke of great Americans and called us up to be our best selves in order to serve the greater good.
And he is just getting started.
His speeches in NYC and at Independence Hall will be greatly anticipated, by I can't wait to see more of his interactions with the people he shepards, like when he met with the homeless in D.C. today. The joy on his face when he gets to interact with people brought me to tears, and to be able to experience that joy with the thousands of pilgrims in Philadelphia this weekend has me so excited I can barely focus on anything else. I can't wait to see what the next three weekends hold for his visit, and pray that he continues to be safe, healthy and joyful in his visit. See you Saturday Papa!
Update: This was my view of the Holy Father before the Papal Mass. He took a detour and came to the Basilica to visit the Grotto of Mary, Undoer of Knots and I was volunteering there! To say overwhelmed and in complete tears wouldn't even begin to sum up that moment.