Saturday, December 17, 2011

Trip to Spain (Part 9) - Saturday

Today was basically the best day ever.  It was the seminarians' mass with the Pope.  About 5,000 seminarians from all over the world attended.  To get into the mass, you had to apply well in advance.  I had my ticket, my passport and my letter of request signed by my Bishop, all ready to go.

The Cathedral in Madrid doesn't hold 5,000 people, so seating was difficult.  The Spaniards and deacons got priority seating inside.  The other seiminarians who got to go inside were picked by lottery.  We were outside, and we chose to sit in the back row of our seating area, so we were closest to the road the Pope would pass by.

I wish I knew beforehand that I would be outside.  We were there from 5:30 AM to noon, or thereabouts.  Our group went very early to get good seats, and it was a good plan on our part because our seats were probably as good as you could get.  The Pope was only about 5-6 feet away, and he could clearly see us.  I think part of the reason he could get so close to everyone was because we were all seminarians with the proper credentials.  Normally, for security reasons, he can't get that close to the general public.

Here's a video taken by the person standing next to me, to give you an idea of how close we were:

The mass was good.  I think the highlight was at the start, when a seminarian gave a welcoming speech to the Pope.  He did a great job.  The Cardinal's welcoming speech was good, too, but that's exactly what you'd expect from a Cardinal.  It was more surprising to see an unknown seminarian making a great speech, and it truly felt like he was speaking for all of us.  I didn't know all of what he said--he was speaking in Spanish--but I felt duly united with him and his sentiments.

That was also a great aspect to the mass: feeling the strong unity between all the seminarians from around the world.  As St. Ignatius of Antioch teaches us, the Pope is a sign of the church's unity, and such strong unity amongst worldwide diversity is awe-inspiring.

The mass ended with Pope Benedict XVI declaring his intention to make St. John of Avila an official doctor of the church, which all the Spanish people loved.  I was more interested in hearing that St. Ignatius of Loyola's cross is in the cathedral, next to St. John's relics.  Methinks a second trip to the cathedral is in order, so I can see them.

A low-quality picture of a Spanish statue of St. Ignatius. You can recognize him because he's holding up the Jesuit IHS symbol.

The mass was basically my entire day.  I got heat stroke from being out in the sun for 5-6 hours without my usual sunscreen and sun protection.  That, and I only got 1-2 hours of sleep the previous night.  So I went back home after the mass and went straight to sleep for about eight hours, then I stumbled outside for dinner and went right back home again after that.  I made a phone call, and once I've finished writing, I'm going straight to be again.

At the same time as the Pope's mass, the United States put on a mass in an arena, with Cardinal Francis George and Archbishop Timothy Dolan presiding.  I'm slightly jealous that I couldn't attend it, because they are both great speakers and inspiration American Catholics.  However, I wouldn't have missed the mass with the Pope for anything.  It was definitely the highlight of the entire trip so far.


Anonymous said...

That loosk like fun!

Anonymous said...

You had heat stroke?! That was shocking! Also, I'll check that video.

Kira said...

OMG. That is so cool!!!!!! I wanna meet the Pope. ^_^

Diana said...

Wow! You were so close! That's really amazing!