Well, with Fr. Roderick here in the states, we have been on hold for several days — eagerly anticipating episode # 500. I had the pleasure of meeting him at the Eucharistic Congress and Catholic New Media Celebration in Atlanta last weekend. I’d heard a lot of people originally discovered him through his Catholic Insider pod-cast. Particularly from his live sound-seeing coverage of the death of Pope John Paul II. Fr. Roderick also subsequently covered the “secret” conclave and election of Cardinal Ratzinger as Pope Benedict XVI. I was not a listener way back then. I decided to fill the Daily Breakfast void by downloading all Fr. Roderick’s aforementioned Catholic Insider programs and listened to them all. (subscribe free via iTunes to find the archive of older programs)
I’m a convert (1999) to the Catholic faith from the Southern Baptist tradition. That being said, John Paul II is the only Pope of the Catholic church I’ve ever known — though I have some vague memory of his election — people watching for black or white smoke from the chimney of the Cistine Chapel. I was barely a teenager then. As a young adult, somehow I’d always honored him as “the voice” of Christianity. When world events evoked an official statement from Pope John Paul II, I knew Jesus was on the scene. Whether it be some foreign policies, or, warfare — I’d think — the Pope has now spoken so God is watching you… You see, where else in Christiandom do we find a “denomination” that holds such authority that world leaders sit up and take notice. When I made the decision in the Summer of 1998 to enter the RCIA process, I fully embraced Pope John Paul II and felt I was coming home.
In 2001, I went back to college at night as a full time student. I entered an accelerated degree completion program. It was under this classroom pressure that I did not make plans to attend Toronto’s World Youth Day in 2002. The week before this WYD, I realized that I could’ve gone. The begining of the big week, I sighed over this with a local Youth Minister who was leaving that day with his group. He emplored me — “You work for an airline. Get on a plane and come. We are staying at….. Call them.” I wrote down the number of the hotel where most of the Atlanta groups were staying. I was shaking from excitement. I checked flights — seats, yes! I consulted with my friend in the next cubical. She got up and marched into our manager’s cubical (I’m shy and afraid to ask for anything) and said, “She needs the rest of the week off. She’s going to Toronto.” I called the hotel from home — more giddyness on my part — there was room and I made a reservation.
I am not in the least bit spontaneous and this was also my first flight since Sept 11th. Many thoughts raced through my mind as we made our ascent. Ariving in Toronto and finding transportation to my hotel was a blur. I’d left a couple messages at the front desk for my friend. He’d saved a backpack for me. Other friends took me to get my access passes. It was magnificant. I was not prepared for the pilgrim march and sleeping on the ground. I had makeshift bedding. The Saturday candle-light vigil was magical. I will never forget waking up, early in the morning, on the ground, in torential rain. The closer it came time for Sunday Mass, the more the sky began to clear. The very moment Pope John Paul II entered the far right corner of the stage, a mighty sweeping wind blew across the entire air field — the sunshine came full out. It did not rain again that day. It was a very Holy day indeed.
I had a very similar feeling when I was watching coverage of his funeral on television. The Gospel book was placed on his coffin and a mighty wind blew over the book — turning pages — I wonder which page it opened to? Was Fr. Roderick close enough to see 🙂
After attending WYD, I had the blessing to attend Wednesday audiences on visits to Rome in Mar 03 and Oct 04. Any time I bring him to mind, I get emotional — I can tear up and choke up.