Monthly Archives: April 2008

Quick Glimpses of the Pope

I had figured that the Holy Father would finish his visit at the White House around noon, and then it would take a while for the motorcade and popemobile to get organized. And if things ran late, then he wouldn’t be heading up the hill until maybe even one.

So at noon I fire up and the live video feed. And there he is, already in the popemobile, on the move on Pennsylvania Avenue! Yikes!

I grab my backpack and coat and start running. I figure I am too late to go straight south the four blocks, straight to Pennsylvania. He’s moving west, so I head west as well, on M Street. They meet, M and Pennsylvania, right before Georgetown.

I can see the crowds down at the ends of the blocks as I hustle past 22nd, then 24th. (No crowds allowed at 23rd, at Washington Circle, apparently.) Think maybe I see the popemobile in the distance across one of the blocks as well. I finally cut south at 26th, at that little park there, just a small block north of Pennsylvania. There are a few folks lining the sides of Pennsylvania, as well as three looks like college kids relaxing in lawn chairs. I tear off my backpack to try to get the camera out, but suddenly I’m all fumble-fingered and inept with the lock. And suddenly this very second of course he goes riding by. Ah well. No picture, but I do see him pretty close, maybe half a block away. The college kids lounging in the chairs wave enthusiastically.

So that’s it then, I think, walking the few feet back to M Street. But looking west at the mess of the traffic jam trying to get into and through Georgetown, I wonder idly where the motorcade is going next. Thinking about where we are in relation to the Nunciature up Massachusetts, I suddenly realize that they’re likely to be heading up Rock Creek Parkway. And I’m only like 100 feet from the bridge where M Street goes over the Parkway.

So I trot over, and sure enough there’s the motorcade going right below. I catch my best glimpse yet of the Holy Father, sitting in the popemobile with Archbishop Wuerl, just before he goes under my feet. (I had yanked out the camera phone and tried to snap a pic with that, but the shutter lag utterly screwed me. So no pix again.)

I turn around and dash through the stopped cars to get to the north side of the bridge, to watch the motorcade head north away from me. Two cops start yelling at me, telling me that I have to keep moving, that there’s no stopping on the bridge. I usually react with solicitousness, followed soon by anger, but then immediately replaced with an overwhelming self-loathing at such encounters with preening petty authority like this. But at this moment I am filled with such cheer at having seen His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI that I do just keep moving, start walking back to the office.

Not quite the experience I was hoping to have, but a small measure of success anyway.

Michael Sean Winters

It is hard to overstate how important Michael is in my returning to the Church. I first went to see Chris McCullough, at the time the coordinator of faith formation at St. Matt’s, and after we talked he suggested I start attending the weekly inquiry meetings on Wednesday nights in the East Conference Room. The first time I went I met Will and Bridget, and the next week I met Michael and Barbara. And they traded off every week, Will/Bridget and Michael/Barbara.

But the thing that struck me right away that second week, meeting Michael for the first time, was something he said. He first asked us all why we were there. We went around the room giving various answers as to our backgrounds and relationships maybe with Catholics and what we were seeking. After we were all done, Michael said that these things were all well and good, but first and foremost, we had arrived here because God had called us here.

I was rather stunned to hear this.

You may argue as to the influence that God actually has on us on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps then it’s more accurate to say that God calls all of us, each and every one of us, all the time. So perhaps we had showed up that day because were just finally answering a phone that had been ringing and ringing for some time.

Talking to him since then, I’ve learned that he’s a writer. Wrote a lot about the scandal, priests sexually molesting kids and the Church covering it up for decades. The Scandal – it deserves capitalization, at least. Wrote for the New Republic. I had done some web surfing and scoured up a bunch of articles and put them together as The Michael Sean Winters Reader.

Have now discovered that he blogs. (Of course! Who doesn’t?) Over at America, the National Catholic Weekly. Read him there, contributing to the In All Things blog.

EJB’s Dreams

Edward: Last night I dreamed I was taking a shower with David Schwimmer’s guitar.

Dawn: David Schwimmer? You mean the guy from Friends?

Edward: Yeah.

Dawn: You have some strange dreams, dude.

Edward: It was an acoustic guitar. He owed somebody $200.

Dawn: [no response]

Edward: Maybe he was trying to hide the guitar.

Lunch at the Tabard

Either Joe or Helena had suggested going farther afield, exploring someplace new for lunch, up north maybe, closer to the circle. So I thought, why not the Tabard? So there we go.

We arrive twelve-fifteenish, twelve-twentyish, sans reservations. Bad move. We hear the hostess explaining probabilities of seating and wait times to a couple ahead of us, and we start planning to go across the street to the Iron Gate or whatever that restaurant is. But I ask anyway if there’s any room for a party of three. And actually there’s a likely no-show of a party of three, and she asks us to take a seat, wait maybe ten minutes. So we do.

And of course it’s the Tabard, that sitting room between the lobby and the restaurant, perfect for hanging out, except that there’s no fire roaring in the fireplace today. But it’s only about five minutes later that we get seated. Perfect.

Joe and I order glasses of pinot grigio; Helena opts for a tempranillo. Says its like a rioja. Tiffanie L. turned her on to it in Seattle.

For entrees Helena and I both get the Ni├žoise salad. Joe has some sort of pasta, I don’t hear exactly what he orders. For extra decadence, Joe and Helena both order dessert, and Joe and I both partake in second glasses of wine.

Joe is the sleepiest back at work.

Going to the Show, Baby!

Just got an email from the staff assistant at the rectory. The subject line was PAPAL MASS TICKETS, so from the sender and the subject I was pretty excited right away. Of course, could always have been, “Sorry to inform you …”

But it wasn’t. Not at all.

Good Afternoon:

You have been selected to receive a ticket …

Oh, yeah. I’m in!

I kept telling myself during these weeks waiting to hear that it was okay either way, that I’d understand if there wasn’t room for me. But all that went right out the window when I saw the email. I realized how much I really really really wanted to go.