Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Papa Rocks The Garden! Join Us in The Big Apple As We Relive Pope Francis's Historic Visit

What a day. 
What an experience......
Exhilarating. Exciting. Rousing. Humbling. 
Unparalleled. Divine. Lucky.
Teary-Eyed. Blessed.
And oh yeah, crowded
I'm thrilled to relive the historic Papal visit to our city with you, my friends!
Thank you for stopping by to share our journey of faith as well
as  the fun,  the fervor and even the crazy....
And boy was it crazy.
 But never unpleasant. 
Because despite the throng, the waiting, the disorder, 
these were God's beautiful people congregated in one place, for one reason.
 And unabashedly excited to be in His presence and professing the faith. 

As you know,  we were extremely blessed to be 
chosen in our diocesan lottery
to attend the papal mass at Madison Square Garden
 in NYC on Friday....!!!!
yay! :

As promised, I took all your intentions and a few religious
items of local friends and fam along to receive a rare Papal blessing.
Well, we were, of course, thrilled to 
share the richness with those of you who could not personally 
attend the events in the three east coast cities!

Now, many of my friends and readers are Catholic and are reading this 
with the knowledge of our Church's traditions 
 and the nostalgia and their lifelong faith experiences. 
I know quite a few  of you are not and 
yet  are still swept up in the  excitement of our Pontiff's
historic  first visit to North America.....
You might be interested in the significance of the Papacy, 
 the leader of the worldwide Catholic Church,
 who we believe to be
the  infallible successor of St. Peter, the first Pope.
When Jesus says to Peter in the Gospel of St Matthew,
  "I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven" 
"Upon this rock I will build my church,"
He was choosing Peter to carry on His work, to further "build" His church,
to act as his earthly representative.

This is, of course, the heart of Vatican City, 
St Peter's Basilica in Rome and
that obelisk in the center of St Peter's Square 
commemorates the spot where our first Pontiff was martyred. 
More on the papacy today and throughout the ages can be found in the archives at
this site.

Now, let me take you with us on Pope Day in The Big Apple,
 or as I  (native and  lifelong NYer)
boldly like to say, The Greatest City in the World...
Yes, I know that's decidedly elitist and unCatholic of me....ahem.....
I LOVE YOU even if you're not a New Yawka! 

Okay, well, we  now live about sixty miles east of the city ( sadly!) 
So that morning found us driving to the train station in~~ 

my old neighborhood !!!
Because I'd rather drive an hour and spend thirty minutes
on the train than drive thirty minutes to the  closest station and
then ninety minutes on the train.
We're not really near a station, as you can see.
After what should have been a quick train ride to Penn, but included 
a forty minute wait on the
platform due to signal troubles on the line, we finally arrived
in the city, along with a multitude bearing A Golden Ticket to  a papal event
and  unticketed individuals hoping to at least catch a glimpse
or just be in the same vicinity as The Vicar of Christ.
It was a happy, packed  trainload of the populace, indeed!
Once we arrived at Penn and ascended to street level,
 we snapped a few shots of the crowds positioning to get a good 
view of Papa as he made numerous stops all over
 midtown, downtown and uptown......
wow, that man made tracks on Friday!
Of course, what makes The Empire State what it is-----
our landmark building on 34th and 5th:


Lotsa wacky touristy shops.....

.....and do ya love this?
English may not be the first language for this t shirt creator,
but love certainly is:
...and they wanted 25 bucks for this! Ha

We finally reached MSG through a maze of police barricades for the 
papal motorcade  to see ~~~~
"FRANCIS OUR POPE" is splashed
 all over billboards around the midtown area and on MSG itself!

 ...and then an awesome NYPD officer offered to take my son's pic 
with his very own uniform cap!
Blue Bloods, here we come!

Now, for those uninitiated to NYC venues,
 MSG and Penn are "connected" and one does not
have to even go outside to reach the other.
 But in the case of crowd control for Friday's events, this was not to be.
Sooooooooo, that pre mass concert?
That warm welcome Papa gave the crown at The Garden,
riding in on a golf cart?
Well, despite getting to the city with a cushion of five and a half hours 
prior to the mass.......we missed both!
You know those infernal zig zag lines at Disney World? 
Picture that draped across NYC back and forth between 7th and 8th Avenues,
going north-south and from 34 Street ( where The Garden is)
allllll the way down to 20 Street.
Yes, to get into the venue connected to Penn,
 we walked about 40 blocks just to find the end of the line....
and there was cheering when all ticket holders found the end, 
I'll tell ya!
On the way and during the five hour wait,
 the Lord treated us to this gorgeous site on 28th and 7th:

Then, there was, well, lots of standing on line winding back toward 7th and 34th
to go through homeland security....
who, by the way, does not care if your wallet, your precious
papal mass ticket, your car keys or your camera bag 
winds up heaped on top of the belongings 
of the party behind you...and behind them.....
and behind them...and......
well you get the point.

So yes, we finally made it!

Once in, we discovered that the ticket windows' red velvet rope separators
created makeshift confession "booths!" 
Cool right?
I so wanted to take pictures, but.....how rude, right?
Snapping  shots of people receiving absolution?
So, no pictures.
Honestly, I would have walked right past it all to just get to our seats,
but my kids had other ideas.
I. Am. So. Happy. that they  insisted  suggested
we receive absolution in the sacrament of reconciliation. 
Receiving the Holy Eucharist at the papal mass with a thoroughly clean slate
was indeed a blessing.
Yes, talk about grace.....that was it.

Upon receiving mercy, we finally.....
oh heavens...finally headed to our seats.
Two broken escalators and a family who were in our seats,
well, guess what?
We were JUST IN TIME for the processional!
The Lord was looking out for all His children because no one arrived late,
despite the...well........the disorder of the day.
Deep breath and here we go........
We were swept up in the beauty and the chillingly familiar, yet still
humbling ritual of the mass but celebrated by
Our Papa!!
The Bishop of Rome...on our soil....
in our city.....discussing  social justice and our issues...
where we've rocked to The Boss and Billy Joel 
and watched The Knicks sink baskets.
Here....wow. Tears.

Tons of our pictures.........>>>>>>

and HERE he is.......

Ok, did we have great seats or what??? 

And here is our Papa delivering the homily~~
Our city, our people, our issues...
and He knew it all.

Courtesy of the Holy See Press Office. and reprinted at catholicmom...
here's the full text of The Holy Father's homily Friday 9/25/15~~
We are in Madison Square Garden, a place synonymous with this city. This is the site of important athletic, artistic and musical events attracting people not only from this city, but from the whole world. In this place, which represents both the variety and the common interests of so many different people, we have listened to the words: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Is 9:1).
The people who walked – caught up in their activities and routines, amid their successes and failures, their worries and expectations – have seen a great light. The people who walked – with all their joys and hopes, their disappointments and regrets – have seen a great light.
In every age, the People of God are called to contemplate this light. A light for the nations, as the elderly Simeon joyfully expressed it. A light meant to shine on every corner of this city, on our fellow citizens, on every part of our lives.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. One special quality of God’s people is their ability to see, to contemplate, even in “moments of darkness”, the light which Christ brings. God’s faithful people can see, discern and contemplate his living presence in the midst of life, in the midst of the city. Together with the prophet Isaiah, we can say: The people who walk, breathe and live in the midst of smog, have seen a great light, have experienced a breath of fresh air.
Living in a big city is not always easy. A multicultural context presents many complex challenges. Yet big cities are a reminder of the hidden riches present in our world: in the diversity of its cultures, traditions and historical experiences. In the variety of its languages, costumes and cuisine. Big cities bring together all the different ways which we human beings have discovered to express the meaning of life, wherever we may be.
But big cities also conceal the faces of all those people who don’t appear to belong, or are second-class citizens. In big cities, beneath the roar of traffic, beneath “the rapid pace of change”, so many faces pass by unnoticed because they have no “right” to be there, no right to be part of the city. They are the foreigners, the children who go without schooling, those deprived of medical insurance, the homeless, the forgotten elderly. These people stand at the edges of our great avenues, in our streets, in deafening anonymity. They become part of an urban landscape which is more and more taken for granted, in our eyes, and especially in our hearts.
Knowing that Jesus still walks our streets, that he is part of the lives of his people, that he is involved with us in one vast history of salvation, fills us with hope. A hope which liberates us from the forces pushing us to isolation and lack of concern for the lives of others, for the life of our city. A hope which frees us from empty “connections”, from abstract analyses, or sensationalist routines. A hope which is unafraid of involvement, which acts as a leaven wherever we happen to live and work. A hope which makes us see, even in the midst of smog, the presence of God as he continues to walk the streets of our city.
What is it like, this light travelling through our streets? How do we encounter God, who lives with us amid the smog of our cities? How do we encounter Jesus, alive and at work in the daily life of our multicultural cities?
The prophet Isaiah can guide us in this process of “learning to see”. He presents Jesus to us as “Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace”. In this way, he introduces us to the life of the Son, so that his life can be our life.
Wonderful Counselor. The Gospels tell us how many people came up to Jesus to ask: “Master, what must we do?” The first thing that Jesus does in response is to propose, to encourage, to motivate. He keeps telling his disciples to go, to go out. He urges them to go out and meet others where they really are, not where we think they should be.  Go out, again and again, go out without fear, without hesitation. Go out and proclaim this joy which is for all the people.
The Mighty God.  n Jesus, God himself became Emmanuel, God-with-us, the God who walks alongside us, who gets involved in our lives, in our homes, in the midst of our “pots and pans”, as Saint Teresa of Jesus liked to say.
The Everlasting Father. No one or anything can separate us from his Love. Go out and proclaim, go out and show that God is in your midst as a merciful Father who himself goes out, morning and evening, to see if his son has returned home and, as soon as he sees him coming, runs out to embrace him. An embrace which wants to take up, purify and elevate the dignity of his children. A Father who, in his embrace, is “glad tidings to the poor, healing to the afflicted, liberty to captives, comfort to those who mourn” (Is 61:1-2).
Prince of Peace. Go out to others and share the good news that God, our Father, walks at our side. He frees us from anonymity, from a life of emptiness and selfishness, and brings us to the school of encounter. He removes us from the fray of competition and self-absorption, and he opens before us the path of peace. That peace which is born of accepting others, that peace which fills our hearts whenever we look upon those in need as our brothers and sisters. God is living in our cities. The Church is living in our cities, and she wants to be like yeast in the dough. She wants to relate to everyone, to stand at everyone’s side, as she proclaims the marvels of the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Eternal Father, the Prince of Peace.“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light”. And we ourselves are witnesses of that light.
We need you Papa....we're invigorated by you.....we love you...
The mass continues>>>>>

The Transubstantiation: 

 .....and then receiving The Holy Eucharist...
what grace.
What a blessing.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan lavishes praise on our Holy Father,
thanking him for his blessings on us all:

Preparing for the final blessing:

.......and my son holds his precious home made wooden cross
as well as my mom's rosaries and my husband's mom's rosaries!

The recessional~~

Not sure what I was doing here with the AIMING of the video camera.....
but nonetheless......  we were THIS close!

As we all filed out, there was quiet and peace and kindness flowing.
Quiet in New York.
The impact of the blessings, I think, were paramount on all our minds.
All 20,000 of us.

So after the mass, we had no real time constraints
 and an hour to spend in the city until our train
pulled out of Penn and headed east.
We decided to wander and enjoy the GORGEOUS night....
This involved, of course, authentic NY pizza.....

and The Freedom Tower...

and viewing  The Garden lit up....

...and landmark skyscrapers.....

By the way, my older son was with us, of course, but prefers not to be included
in pictures on the  blog, a request I'm happy to honor....
but I do miss him here.

On the way home, my younger son quietly said as we reflected on the day,
"Mom, Francis is my JPII!"
And it dawned on me that my kids will love and
 admire our 260th Pontiff the way I did my beloved John Paul II.
You do know that my older son took our Papa's given name, KAROL,
as his confirmation name?
My  post with lots of details on the day, the decor, the dinner and the cake
is all here....I can't resist sharing....
Here's a peek at the cake:

For more  reflections on the Pope’s visit from members of the
 Mid-Atlantic Conference of the Catholic Women Bloggers Network
(yes, I am a member of this awesome group of bloggers, lucky me!!) 
please visit Julie's blog at These Walls~~  

Every Papal event during the past week in DC, Philly and NY are represented...!
Amazing, right?
Brew yourself a cup of tea and go check  out first hand coverage
from some of the finest authors in the land! 
 my friend, Roxane, of Peace Garden Writer,
traveled from her home in North Dakota to World Meeting of Families
events in Philly and kept us all posted every step of the way. 
So please go enjoy Rox's updates and posts as well!

Did you know, by the way, that I'm a Compassion Blogger?
Wait til you see these adorable faces!

Friends, as always,  
thank you for stopping over and 
spending some of your precious time 
here at my home on the web!
And hey:

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Until next time,



  1. This was an amazing blog post! I feel like I got to attend the NYC Papal Mass right along with your family! Thank you!

    1. Abigail~~

      Thank you so much for your kind words!!I really love that you found time to stop by!!

  2. That's so awesome! Congrats on getting to attend the mass. :)

    And that shirt... omg.

    1. Danielle~`

      Thank you so much ---and I so appreciate you joining us!!

  3. I would have loved to have been able to see the Pope but wouldn't have traveled unless it was to the Vatican... great post and I can feel that I was there.

    1. Well Im so happy you had the opportunity to join us vicariously!

      Thank you marlys!!!

  4. What a wonderful day for you and your family! Thanks for sharing it.

    And the shirt is hilarious. Ha!

    1. Aw, thank you for stopping by Erica11

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks so much for visiting, Starla!!

  6. Chris, I LOVED reliving this day vicariously through your experience and beautiful blog post! The t-shirt cracked me up! :) What wonderful pictures and video you captured and yes, you had great seats! I was looking for you on TV ;-) I loved taking the NY trip "with" you :) Thank you for sharing your blessed day with all of us! I'm jealous (but in a good way..haha!) that you were able to see Pope Francis with your boys who will forever remember this day with you!

  7. Hi again Chris! Just wanted to let you know I linked up to your post on my brief (and not as exciting as yours) Pope Francis post: :) http://www.asliceofsmithlife.com/2015/09/pope-francis-visits-us-and-we-visit.html

    1. How sweet Tra!!

      Thanks so much---I LOVED your papal post!!

      Thx for stopping by and linking!

  8. Oh, wow, Chris! What a blessing!! We are not even able to get local channels to watch on TV and our streaming is sloooooww. So bumbed - but I'm happy for you! :-) Thanks be to God for such a blessing!
    Take care.

    1. Aw, jen, I'm sorry it didn't work out for you!

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing Papa's visit with us though!!

  9. I'm blown away with excitement for you, my friend! Thank you for sharing this once in a lifetime evening with us common folks :). Your pictures and seats are amazing! That "comming" shirt is just too funny. I literally LOLed. Your son looks SO happy. What a monumental occasion for you both.

    1. Thanks Candace!! So happy that you visited to share our experience w. Papa!! Aw, you 'common" folks!! Too funny!!

      Love your visits here ---thanks!!

  10. So happy for you. What a once in the lifetime experience. Very super cool.


    1. patrick
      Yes it certainly was!!

      Thanks for stopping by!

  11. AH! This is so awesome!!! What a huge blessing to be there and so close!! Thank you for sharing it all with us.

  12. You know, you told me earlier that you'd won the lottery to see Papa Francisco, but by the time I knew I was in my own holy whirlwind and didn't have enough time to reflect on how amazing that is! I know you had so wanted to come to Philly. And yet, there's God for you. He brings papa to you instead, in the place you know and love, and you got a much better view than I did. Truly! I got him riding by in his pope mobile, but I was way far back for the papal Mass. It was still beautiful, but your view...wow. God is so good! I am so happy for you and your boys, Chris! What a memorable day!!! :)

    1. It was truly a blessing, Rox! Even writing this was surreal, processing that we were THERE!

      Looking fwd to reading more of your trip to Philly!!

      Thx for stopping by!


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