This was indeed a memorable experience for us three, my husband, my son and myself. We traveled by LRT to Carriedo, in the city of Manila, and then walked from there to the Manila Cathedral. It was the second day of the 5-day visit of Pope Francis 1 and he was to celebrate mass especially for the religious — so except for the laity serving the church invited to that mass, everybody else were stationed outside of this minor basilica. We three were among the “sea” of people watching the events from inside the church on the video screens placed outside the minor basilica.
The mass was to start at 11:00 AM but we were already there by 7:30 AM, a sacrifice indeed – me with my heart condition, and my husband and my son with seasonal allergies. So, it was a long wait and top that with standing while waiting for more than three hours, next, front, back and side to a person for the same duration of the wait. The sun wasn’t that strong, and we were all grateful for that. It was actually a cloudy morning and every now and then a soft breeze somehow made everything else bearable.
When Pope Francis finally arrived, we all weren’t disappointed that he was far off from all of us — the entrance to the minor basilica was way off from the barricades where we all were allowed to wait. But, we were all okay with that. Pope Francis saw the multitude of us from the barricades and waved to us, acknowledging our presence. That was all we needed and we were all filled with joy.
The gospel was about Jesus asking His apostle Simon Peter if he loves Him. Jesus asked Peter this thrice and thrice Peter answered, “Yes, I love You.”
After reading the gospel, Pope Francis started his homily with “Thank You.” which merited laughter from everyone of us. He had a distinct message for the priests specifically the younger priests — that of helping heal the people, heal the Church. For everybody else, his message was for us to be ambassadors of the Good News.
Our dear Archbishop de Tagle before the blessings, thanked Pope Francis for his visit and he also gave a short history of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Manila Cathedral. He also said that just like the minor basilica, the Filipinos have been resilient against all kinds of tragedies and stood strong. He added that the Filipinos have two special gifts — that of love for music and a strong faith — both have “fired” our spirits, helping us to keep on going with our lives steadfastly.
All of these that I have written are my own understanding of the messages of these two holy people of God. And, I would like to impart how joyful we three are, my family, in having experienced the presence of God’s holiness through this encounter.
God is good… All the time!!!!