There are few things anymore that cause us to pause, take in a more than a few moments on television, and sit there to feel the full weight of history. This week proved that there still is power in a single moment.
Power that causes us to listen.
Power that makes us feel our sum is greater than our individual parts.
That power came from His Holiness, Pope Francis.
Francis’ visit to Washington D.C has made headlines for weeks, families and friends made their own plans for a pilgrimage to our nation’s capital to see him long before that. As a lifelong Catholic I have witnessed friends and aquaintances make the journey. I have sat watching my TV in total attention with coffee in hand as he energized a nation that sometimes finds itself in dark places.
My dear friend Emily Riemer, who used to work in Columbus, made the trip for her now-TV home WCVB in Boston. She was so close to the Pope’s motorcade and his renowned Fiat on Thursday, she sent me these pictures:
The crowds were thick near her and filled with excitement for the Holy Father’s visit.
“Along the way, we are seeing families and couples and friends who’ve made the trip to see him,” Emily told me. “We’re hearing English, Spanish, Italian, even Arabic from a reporter next to us at the Capitol. And it highlights for me how much interest there is in Pope Francis around the world.”
That’s Emily on the right watching some of the coverage while she was on a break from live shots. She also addressed a common question journalists get– how do you not get swept up in the moment?
“We try to stay impartial as journalists, to hold our feelings back as we convey information. But watching the Pontiff make his way across the back plaza of the Capitol building in his signature black Fiat, it was hard NOT to feel excited. The Congressional staffers behind us, some who’d been waiting for 6 hours, started cheering, someone yelled “Papa!” And then Pope Francis waved and the cheers were louder. The journalists saying to each other, “Did you get it?!”
Emily told me also she felt lucky to be a small part of the event– bringing local insight on his journey for Boston-area viewers.
Father Joshua Wagner, whose message as a young Catholic priest in Columbus is nothing short of passionate and modern, was invited by Congresswoman Joyce Beatty to attend Thursday’s events.
He spent the day in the Pope’s footsteps from the parade….
…to the gallery of Congress where he listened to the Pope’s message. Father Wagner took this quick picture before he entered.
I loved this Facebook post from Father Wagner about the whole journey, I can hear his voice in it.
“I’m exhausted! I can’t imagine ANYONE who’s had a busier day than me… Lol! Frankly, I have no idea how Pope Francis is doing this…. Energizer Pope.”
The Pope’s message to Congress was one of unity– respecting and willing the need for all faiths to come together and build a stronger society.
“It is important that today, as in the past, the voice of faith continue to be heard, for it is a voice of fraternity and love, which tries to bring out the best in each person and in each society. Such cooperation is a powerful resource in the battle to eliminate new global forms of slavery, born of grave injustices which can be overcome only through new policies and new forms of social consensus,” the Holy Father remarked.
He wants us to consider refugees coming into our country and other countries in a profound way:
“We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome. Let us remember the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
He takes that from Matthew 7:12. And that moment brought a lot of applause from the gallery.
Another moment I thought that was very telling about helping others, had to do with our families.
“For many of them, a future filled with countless possibilities beckons, yet so many others seem disoriented and aimless, trapped in a hopeless maze of violence, abuse and despair. Their problems are our problems. We cannot avoid them. We need to face them together, to talk about them and to seek effective solutions rather than getting bogged down in discussions.”
One of my sister’s friends also went to see the #PopeinDC thanks to an invite from Illinois Congressman Danny Davis.
Megan Breheny told me how she felt about what she had witnessed at the end of the long day:
“It’s been a crazy day and I am running around like crazy in this city… however, from the two days I have been here I have never felt Christ more present. Everyone is proud to have their faith and witness a leader who brings faith, peace and love in his actions and words.”
Megan watched the Pope kiss children, eat with the homeless, and talk with leaders. She spent time working within government before she became a mom, and that made this trip even more meaningful to her.
“Not only was I able to be in the city I love. I was able to celebrate my faith at my beloved Capitol building.”
A holy moment for so many… where faith came to live in a place divided on so many days.
The Holy Father’s words ring poignant for me this morning… I hope we can live up to them.
“A political society endures when it seeks, as a vocation, to satisfy common needs by stimulating the growth of all its members, especially those in situations of greater vulnerability or risk.”