Why I Actually Went to See Pope Francis


For months I have been agonizing over whether or not to go see Pope Francis on his U.S. visit. I basically had decided against it by the time Saturday rolled around, on the grounds that it was too much trouble. Philadelphia was supposed to be a mess, New York also had the UN meeting, and DC was too hard to get to see him. I was going to pass. After all, I really haven’t been attending church much in recent years, and other people deserved to see him.

On Saturday the Pope arrived in Philadelphia though, and my interest hit a fevered pitch. I was talking to a friend of mine who was working the events for the diocese, and he told me I could have had tickets. I was disappointed, but still figured Sunday would be impossible. Later on, a family friend said they had regional rail passes. I really thought about it then, but I decided to still skip it. I just didn’t want to deal with the crowds.

Later on Saturday evening, I was having a beer and looking at Facebook on my phone and saw a picture that changed my thinking. It was a picture of a sick family member praying while watching the Pope on television that day. This family member is battling stage 4 cancer, and has been fighting the disease for three years. It was probably the most difficult photograph I’ve looked at in years. What nerve it exactly hit, I don’t know. I just couldn’t tell you, but it completely changed my thinking about the next day. The hell with crowds. I really wanted to see this Holy man in my state.

Now you’re probably thinking I went to pray for him, but actually that’s the twist on this- I didn’t. You don’t mourn the living, and asking God or the Pope or whoever to heal an Earthly illness seems to miss the point. That picture reminded me that our life on this planet is but a blip in our history, a speck in our existence, and that may be me someday. I wanted to go and see the Pope, and reflect on my own existence, mostly because I like many others have lost people before. Pope Francis, and all he represents to so many people, will be but an instant in our time. I wanted a mini-pilgrimage that morning, a moment to reflect on my life, in the midst of a person who is so Holy and good. I needed a little renewal, and I knew it. So, I went and got it.


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