Friday, April 08, 2005

A fine farewell

Catholics know how to throw a funeral.

I watched part of the funeral of Pope John Paul II because I was up and because, well, it seems like one of those events that should be witnessed, even if on TV via satellite.

In typical Catholic fashion, it was solemn and full of pageantry, ceremony and colorful vestiments. But the most striking thing of this service was not the official aspects, but the emotions of the crowd. There was applause for John Paul, several times. Love and reverence and tears, to be sure, but applause, and signs and flags and chants from the crowd calling for the pope to be recognized as a saint.

Pope as rock star.

Thousands upon thousands, million perhaps, offering ovation after ovation. For I while I forgot that this was an event attended by heads of state from around the world in expensive suits and dresses. It was the people in blue jeans and T-shirts that left the most lasting impressions. The people's pope got a rousing sendoff from the people of the world gathering in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican.

Now I know what they mean by celebrating a Mass.

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