8:58 - The Pope is on TV, greeting the crowd waiting for him on his way to the White House. A woman at the bar points out 3 TV stations show him outside 3 locations: "Embassy," "Nunciature," and "Diplomatic Mission."
9:30 - The Pope is not visibly digging the American Revolution marching band. He doesn't seem to like the whole statecraft business to being pope.
9:41 - I'm in a bar that has 4 TVs. All of them show the Pope. The music has been turned off, and we're listening to President Obama greet Pope Francis. In a bar. Granted, it's Little Rome, but dang.
9:43 - The Pope begins with, "Good morning." I suppose starting with the Sign of the Cross would be too much.
9:46 - Holy cow, the Pope speaks English with an Argentinian accent! That's only remarkable because I work with an Argentinian, and he has the same accent.
The draft menu was also specially curated for the big event.
9:51 - Close captioning has the phrase "open doors to corporations." Oh, local Fox station, that's "cooperation"! Freudian Autocorrect?
9:53 - The Pope's speech is over. It seemed largely harmless, something to encourage and/or bug anyone who wants to react to it.
10:00 - Yes, yes, I know, "The Liberty Bell" is a John Philip Sousa march, perfectly suited to state visits. But it's also the theme music for Monty Python's Flying Circus. Is that how we really want to play the Pope off the stage?
Getting on Campus
10:16 - I can't get to the Orange Gate entrance from where I'm standing.Good thing I have six hours to figure it out.
10:18 - A vendor's sign says "Merchandise $5." Such a deal!
On the right side of the street. The wrong side of the street is two blocks away, unless you want to take your chances vaulting the barriers.
10:21 - I've caught up with Orange Gate entrance line. Like Disneyland, it doesn't look so bad (see above), until you turn a corner and see the whole mob.
- All Things Considered radio rehearsal happening twenty feet away. I'm guessing it turned into this report.
10:57 - Okay, maybe getting through the gate by 11:30 was optimistic. But noon for sure, maybe.
- I notice that I'm surrounded by a bunch of white people chatting about various thing. Off a
ways a bit, some people are singing in Spanish. Who's having more fun? (The college student next to me just mentioned the "Platonic
form of unicorn." Sigh.)
11:09 - Nothing sets the mind in a large crowd at ease like the sight of bored cops. Even if they're wearing an ATF vest. Noticing there's an ATF medic, a Secret Service K-9, a gaggle of Maryland state police. And yes, the one muscled fellow in the suit with the earpiece informing us that this car is going to drive away now.
11:39 - I'm getting closer to the metal detectors. Can't wait to get through and... wait till 4:15!
11:41 - A volunteer is leading a train of Mexican friars through the line. Some white guy in a T shirt decides to follow them up to the metal detectors. I hope one of them will hear his confession before Mass.
11:58 - At long last, I'm through the checkpoint, where I'm given a most warm TSA welcome. (I will never complain about having to take off my belt at an airport again.) And a goody bag including a Mass program, a booklet on [now] St. Junipero Serra, and a ball point pen.
Waiting in Section E
Not my view, as an ATF agent politely but firmly told me.
My view. Jumbotron on far left was to help me see what the white dots in the sanctuary were doing.
12:11 - Not a bad view. I hope the fall sun doesn't burn. (That hope proved groundless. When I finally looked in a mirror that night, I looked like a cartoon of someone with sunburn. If I had seen me in a TV show, I'd have said, "That makeup's over the top.")
- Watching the Pope speak to US bishops on the Jumbotron. I can't quite hear the
translator; I'll just wait for the book. I should spread out the papal poncho
from the goody bag to sit on the ground, as others have done, but then I won't have a pristine papal poncho.
12:56 - I've seen some fellow parishioners in my section. I knew at least some from my parish got tickets in a seated section. I am pleased that, however the tickets were divvied up, I wasn't singled out for the periphery.
1:18 - Just 3 hours until Mass doesn't start on time. I hear people around me say the Pope will mobile along the path about 30 feet in front of me (see aluminum fence in above right picture). Cool, if so.
- I am sitting on my goody bag in the bright sun, unable to read the Kindle screen to see how to adjust the brightness so I can read the Kindle screen. I have decided Lord of the World is, no doubt, a good book, but not really good prep
for a papal Mass. On to St. Catherine of Siena's letters.
1:58 - Two hours after passing through the gate, I have the first
thought of leaving early. Like right after canonization. As I slowly broil, I'm struck by the thought that seeing the Pope is
like seeing a giant panda. Having seen him, how long do you stick around
to watch him?
236 - A WBAL reporter walks by, holding a microphone and asking, "Anybody from Baltimore? Anybody?"
2:43 - Prelude starts with "Simple Gifts." I am hopeful that Mass won't start too too late.
- The shade has finally reached me. I feel like I'm standing on a two-square-foot duchy on a trade crossroads that everyone wants to sweep
through on their way to greener pastures. A tall fellow with binoculars (and therefore elbows out to either side, a tall
fellow in a suitcoat, and a medium height fellow with a small Vatican City flag stuck in the top of his cap are now
obscuring the view that was unobscured for the previous 3 hours.
3:15 - Folks have noticed a sun dog. They're common enough around here, but I suppose it never hurts to have omens in the sky on days like this.
3:17 - Here's a picture of my current view of the sanctuary. I am moderately grouchy.
3:30 - A number of altar servers have just walked up the steps to the altar. Practice? Or are they already taking their places
3:40 - The videoscreens show the Knights of Columbus processing along the front of the basilica. Within a minute, they've come around the corner and in direct sight. Following them are four hundred bishops in white. It seems a dirty trick to be at a papal Mass with white vestments, but what are you gonna do?
3:50 - The Popemobile is spotted! By me, I mean. There were some video shots of the Pope arriving in his Fiat (say what you like about humility, that car still looks a lot nicer than mine), and then of him somewhere on campus in his Jeep, but I have now clapped eyes directly on the vehicle itself.
A picture of people taking pictures of the Pope.
3:53 - The pope just smiled at me. Well, the couple thousand of us in Section E. He really does go to the periphery! In person, he looks exactly the way he looks on TV, which is to say, happy to see people.
3:58 - He's coming back! The Popemobile did a U-turn somewhere and is passing back the way it came, at a slightly higher clip than before. I get an excellent view of the back of the Pope's head.
And now my phone battery is dying. I need to save it for one last text so my wife knows when to pick me up from the Metro station, so I stop my detailed record keeping. Oh, and also there's a Mass going on somewhere up there, so I should probably attempt at least a little reverence.
Though I do risk both battery and impiety with a couple of pictures during the canonization rite, including this one, which is the only picture I took that I can tell has Pope Francis in it (he's sitting in his chair, listening to the biography of St. Junipero):