Monday, April 21, 2008


It has been pretty fun having the pope here on American soil and seeing how the nation responds to him though I’ve left remarking on it to other bloggers much more dedicated to the endeavor of watching, commenting and analyzing.

Even if you are a jaded individual when it comes to meeting famous persons (as I tend to be) meeting the pope is a moving experience. Those coming in contact with Pope Benedict seem greatly moved, many to tears. I did not get to see him this go around (though I hope to get a glimpse of him this summer down under) but as I’ve reported here before I did get to meet Pope John Paul II about nine years ago at the Vatican. After a mass in his private chapel we were escorted into some chamber where the handful of priests that were there removed their vestments and then were shuttled off to a library with a few of the people who were granted short audiences with the pope. He worked his way down the line, greeting, listening, blessing, and giving out rosaries. I remember thinking, “What do you say to the pope? Is it possible even to say anything profound? I so don’t want to say, something trite like, ‘Great job,’ or ‘Hi from everyone in Cleveland,’” though now I wish I would have.

When he finally got to me his secretary said, “Father Valencheck from Cleveland. The pope shook my hand and said, “Ah! Cleveland!” to which I responded, “Blablablab.”

I told that story this weekend in my homily and of course it got a laugh. But what was really funny is what happened after mass. We were over in the parish hall for coffee and donuts (where two or three are gathered in His name, we shall serve donuts) when the mother of the young lady from this parish who joined the Sisters of Life in New York received a phone call. “Mom!” she very excitedly reported on the phone, “I got to meet the pope and shake his hand!” The only downside of the event was that she was listening as the pope made his way down and hearing people saying such things as, “God bless,” and “We love you,” but she said something much more profound. “Blabldhekl!” Good for her. “That’ what Fr. V. said when he met John Paul!” her mother informed her.

One may think what one will about the state of the Church in the United States but it has been inspiring to see the enthusiasm and the piety of the young people over the days of this papal visit. It must be remembered what a mixed up and difficult period from which we are just now emerging. We have every right to be a bit dysfunctional IMHO. But was there not hope here? Was there not a brilliant future emerging from a long season of confusion? This great outpouring of faith, devotion, and love of the Church was not just a fluke with John Paul. This will continue. And we as Church can expect a brilliant future.


Adoro said...

ROFL! How do you even pronounce what she said?

Maybe both of you were speaking in tongues? :-P

We were joking in class this week about what would happen if the Pope joined us so we could discuss his book with him. We'd love to ask him to clarify some points and such, but really, we'd probably be just as profoundly tongue-tied in his presence.

No wonder he's so smiley...can you imagine what it must be like to have so many people speak gibberish in your presence? He's probably trying not to laugh...


Odysseus said...

-to which I responded, “Blablablab.”-

How I envy you, Father! Those are the exact words I hope to say to the Holy Father if I ever have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet him!


Anonymous said...

I guess I wasn't much on board with the last Papal visit to the States, because when I tuned in for the Mass yesterday, one look at the converted Stadium reduced me to joyful tears in the enormity of this moment. Amazing. Absolutely amazing. Thousands upon thousands there for God. There we all were, even if we weren't, and right there in a mega-city where we think there are many people who do not care about God. Ha, there are never (and nowhere) many people who do not care about God, and about one another.

I don't know about others, but I'm doggoned fired up by this visit. We should take great solace as well as strength from it. Thank you, Holy Father.

The staging was beautiful, and in front, I don't really know what the design was, but from here it looked like the Eucharist with a circle of rays going out.. touching everyone. Amen.

Adrienne said...

The expressions on the faces in Yankee Stadium was so uplifting.

I thought the visit was very spiritual and encouraging. I actually cried when he got on that plane to go home.

Anonymous said...

This papal visit was profound to me and I'm not even sure why. Although, knowing that the Pope was speaking *directly to Americans* was tremendous and I hope, as Father said, that this great outpouring of faith, devotion and love continues in us all.

Anonymous said...

I followed the Papal visit Saturday and Sunday, because my sister was in the crowd those days. I was very overwhelmed by the amount of people that showed up for both events. But I was more overwhelmed by the Holy Father. His presence and words were truly inspiring to me. I loved his speech to the young people and ended up having a very in-depth conversation about it with my boyfriend, who is not Catholic. He understood the message and loved it, which leads me to believe that there is hope for his conversion! I've read and reread his speeches from this visit and each time, I walk away with a sense of, "Wow! This is my church! This is our church! This is my faith! This is our faith!" I'm so happy to be Catholic.