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Saturday, April 02, 2005
"ETERNAL REST, GRANT UNTO HIM, O LORD..."

Feels really weird tonight. A little scary - which doesn't make sense to me, because I wasn't one of those who thought John Paul II was "The Great." I thought he was very, very loving and holy, and very devoted to Jesus and Mary, but it's hard to imagine the Church being in a worse state than it is in these days. The pundits are calling him "the People's Pope." I think he was clearly a better Pope for/of the world's people than he was of the Catholic Church's people.

More about that in a couple weeks or so. Right now, it is appropriate to thank God for his example of faith. He certainly had a large and pastoral heart, and I feel a weird combination of loss and also certainty that there must be eternity because of souls like him. He doesn't feel "ended but changed."

I met him when he was in the States once. It was in Miami. I was a novice, then, and they had a lottery for seats in a special meeting he was going to hold with religious of the U.S. I, who managed to get through 11 years of Catholic school without once winning anything in a school fundraiser, managed to get what passed for a winning Papal meeting ticket. I got a seat on the right side of the central aisle.

The Pope came up our side and shook the hands of the mostly aging religious women lined up there. When he got to me, he paused a second longer. I must have made a different picture, being 23 and in a white veil. And then there was the fact that I was crying. He put his hands on my head, and looking right into my eyes, he said a word of blessing.

It was one of those moments.