Grace and Holiness: Seeing Pope Francis

Ready to take the train into Philadelphia at 5:45am to see pope Francis. 

Ready to take the train into Philadelphia at 5:45am to see pope Francis. 

Last week a group of students from Seton Hall University traveled to Philadelphia to see Pope Francis. It was an incredible opportunity to witness the gathering of Catholics from around the world at the World Meeting of the Families and to be a part of Pope Francis' first visit to the United States. Two students reflected on their trip to see Pope Francis and wrote about their experiences.

Philadelphia was ready for pope francis to arrive.

Philadelphia was ready for pope francis to arrive.

Without further ado, here are their thoughts:

Immense Grace

by Dave Miller, sophomore

Attending the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia and being able to see the Pope was an incredible experience. On the first day that we were in Philadelphia when we were waiting to see Pope Francis, I realized the special opportunity it was to be in the same city as the Holy Father. It was so great to be part of this World Meeting of Families, being surrounded by so many families who were rooted in the same faith, and being able to be united, as one big Catholic family, by the The Vicar of Christ.

During Pope Francis’ homily at the Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, I was overcome with the fact that we were listening to the Pope’s words that had come directly from the Holy Spirit. The fact that the Pope was addressing us directly, was a tremendous grace and privilege to experience.

I received an immense amount of grace throughout the weekend and I was so blessed to be part of the World Meeting of Families. I am still learning from Pope Francis’ homilies and speeches and I continue to be convicted by his message to the United States about the importance of family life. Thank you Lord for Pope Francis and the servant he is!

God bless Pope Francis!

Waiting for the papal parade.

Waiting for the papal parade.

Witnessing Holiness

by Brian Delfs, sophomore

Holiness can sometimes be defined as “a title given to the pope, Orthodox patriarchs, and the Dalai Lama, or used in addressing them.” However, in reality, holiness is not truly defined by a title or by reaching a certain rank. Real holiness can only be displayed through how well you live out your life in the way Jesus would want you to do. Pope Francis is not admired just by the Catholic Church, he has already received worldwide support for the compassion, mercy and love he has displayed, and is surely an example of such holiness.

With that said, how could I pass up an opportunity to be near and possibly see one of the holiest men alive? I was pretty close to turning down the chance to go to Philadelphia to the World Meeting of Families to catch a few glimpses of Pope Francis. I had been bogged down with schoolwork but after some prior commitments somehow happened to cancel on me, the time was cleared up and I committed to going. I was not even sure if I was actually going to see the man. There were a couple million visitors there for the same reason, and I imagined that the outlook on being able to actually see him was bleak.  A series of interesting events actually led a few of us to be positioned almost in the front row for his initial arrival. Everyone was convinced that this would be our one and only opportunity to see him. I got a picture of his arm sticking out of his little Fiat, and at that moment, it was more than enough. Little did I know, later that day I would have the opportunity to actually see him more clearly.

There was a unique feeling that all of us agreed on upon seeing Pope Francis that night. Before you could see the police lights of his convoy approaching, you could hear the crowds announcing his arrival through their tremendous screams, shouts, and chants. However, when he actually came into sight, I was overtaken with joy and happiness. I wasn’t speaking to him, nor had he laid his hands on me in blessing. All it took was for me to see him drive by, for five seconds, and I felt a joy inside that I can still not put into words to describe. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that feeling; I would truly like to believe it was a miracle.

I really do wish I could post a list of thirty to forty quotes from his entire trip to the US, but I think that would defeat the purpose of a “blog”. So instead, given the mission of SPO, I will leave you with this one:

“What can we do to keep our heart from going numb? GO FORTH and PROCLAIM the Joy of the Gospel.”

What better a takeaway from his visit; let us all follow in Pope Francis’ steps. God bless you all!

Our view on Saturday night for the first papal parade in Philadelphia.

Our view on Saturday night for the first papal parade in Philadelphia.

Our view on Sunday as Pope Francis drove by on his way to say mass. 

Our view on Sunday as Pope Francis drove by on his way to say mass. 

Photos by Paola Hegedus