I’ve known about the World Meeting of Families for months. I’ve prepared to go for the past couple of weeks. But it wasn’t until today that it hit me…the Whole Wide World had been invited!!
Not just our bus of pilgrims, not just our diocese, not just Pennsylvanian’s but they really meant…the Whole Wide World was invited!
AND THEY CAME!
Not just me, not just our bus, not just the faithful in Pennsylvania but literally tens of thousands of others from…the Whole Wide World! (And they are predicting the city of Philadelphia will have approximately 1.5 million people on its streets beginning tomorrow.)
This great epiphany came as I stood amongst a sea of other Catholics during the final Mass this morning for the World Meeting of Families held in the Grand Hall of the Philadelphia Convention Center. Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, presided; as well as, being joined on the altar by a plethara of other fellow Bishops and priests. It was magical and breathtaking and you could feel the commitment of faith from those around you!
Then at the moment Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia said,
“At the Savior’s command and formed by divine teaching, we dare to say…”
It hit me! That’s when I looked to my left to grab the hand of a Vietnamese woman and then to my right to have my hand held firmly by a Mexican man. Here I was in the middle of two different Countries and the three of us were reciting Our Father’s Prayer, as a part of…the Whole Wide World.
The tears that fell from that holy moment only helped to brighten my view now on all the others who were in the room. A cuban couple in front of me. Koreans behind & to the left. Nigerians to my far right. And fellow Americans directly behind. I believe we all felt this immense connection of being a part of something much bigger than us all. We were family, familia, One Catholic and Apolstolic faith! We were but a small part of a faith that is entrenched in…the Whole Wide World.
How fitting it was that this clarity came under the recitation of Our Father’s Prayer. The Lord’s Prayer is the prayer the entire Church says every single day at every Mass and it is part of the Communion Rite. Jesus taught The Lord’s Prayer to his disciples when they asked how to pray (cf. Mt 6:9-13, Lk 11:2-4) and it signifies our communion with God and the fellowship we share with one another. In this prayer, the people join their voices to pray for the coming of God’s kingdom and to ask God to provide for our needs, forgive our sins, and bring us to the joy of heaven.
And peope in the Whole Wide World are invited to profess this!
Won’t you join us too?
these hugs n’ blessings are sent to the far corners of the world today!
ps- Papa Francis arrives tomorrow in Philadelphia and…the Whole Wide World can hardly wait!
“Really?? Here to the U.S.? And to my very own state of Pennsylvania???”
I was verklempt! (Choked with emotion.)
And thus my mission began…How could I navigate through the various personal obstacles I must over-come and make the pilgrimage to Philadelphia to be near our Holy Father, Pope Francis? A daunting task, (if you knew the full-story,) so it was of no great surprise when just two weeks ago I abandoned the notion of accomplishing my goal. And truthfully, I was disappointed…but rather quickly I swapped my disappointment with enthusiasm for allthe others from our Diocese who would be making the 404 mile journey to be with the Vicar of Christ, as he visited our great Country! I was genuinely excited they would be experiencing the great grace of being near him!
Launching into Plan B I began researching & gathering all the information necessary to watch the day-to-day coverage at home; beginning September 22 until his departure September 27, as well as listen on Sirius Channel 129 when away from a television! I’ve set up similar “coverage marathons” before like: the wedding festivities of both Princess Diana & Prince William, prior Papal conclaves, or the OJ Simpson trials (I made that last example up in hopes of a giggle!😂) My excitement was growing as I collected the necessary data to partake in a personal experience with my Pope, even if it were to be across the air-waves!
Imagine my surprise and great giggles, when just three days after resigning myself to waving my Pope flag alone in my living room, I received a phone call from our Diocesan office with a special request:
“Would YOU be willing to serve as an emergency substitute Bus Captain, leading our Diocesan Pilgrims to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, where our holy Father will be attending?”
I was verklempt! (Choked again with emotion.)
And so it begins!
With the blessing of my family
and affirmation from my Spiritual Director…
off I go,
(in just a few short days,)
toward Philadelphia, Pa!
*Along with an anticipated 1.5 million others,
(with their own giggle of what led them there,)
to be near Him!
And just because it’s the monday giggles I will share with you this (private) little giggle:
“Wouldn’t it be great if I could return and say: “I had some pizza with the Pope while I was away!” (Even if he was just on the cover of the box, per-say? 😉)”
Be sure to check in periodically to see what’s happening throughout the pilgrimage. I will do my best to share a “slice or two” of information with you!
Until then this hug n’ blessing is for all those in Philly preparing for