5 Reasons why I’m still experiencing #PopeSepanx

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Whenever I went to church on Sundays, the mass would always end with The national prayer for the Papal visit and as soon as the final blessing is given, the song We are all God’s children plays alongside a choreographed music video. If you asked me weeks before the scheduled visit of the pope that if I were to attend any of the planned events in Metro Manila, I would have been very very very elusive and skeptical.  I had my reasons, the flock of people who would probably suffocate me, the number of safety risks I would have to take would probably make me panic and the slight chance of choosing the right spot on where you would wait long hours just to see the pope pass by in 3 seconds would make me feel very frutsrated. It required devotion, dedication and a huge leap of faith — which will never be an easy decision for me. I am a devoted practicing roman Catholic but I never went with all the big fuss, I was content with my support in our church and at the comfort of my home.

Weeks before, I even planned to go out of the city and spend a nice vacation or get a couple of get-togethers with friends. It was the perfect time to go out and about considering that traffic was very spacious given that all scheduled activities were to happen strictly in the Manila area only. So weeks before, my mind was made up.

Then my planned vacation was cancelled due to some “paalam” issues and weirdly most of my friends were not available to go out with me (I have to rethink and recalculate my friendship with those people, please remind me haha) and so I ended up staying at home, watching TV and patiently waiting for the Pope’s arrival.

I don’t know what it was, I can’t put the feeling into words, but there really was something about the anticipation that made my heart constrict with overflowing emotions. Watching the television coverage – seeing the number of people clustering along the road, witnessing the infectious energy of the children ready to perform and building up the anticipation of waiting for his plane to land at the Villamor air base tugged my heart and broke it into a million pieces (in a very overwhelming way.)

Hello Pope!!
Hello Pope!! (Cr: Rappler)

As soon as we saw the visibility of the plane flying over Philippine territory and safely parking in the runway, there were already unshed tears at the back of my eyes. And when the pope donned his infamous golden smile, his skullcap flew off and his cape (?) from his outfit covered his face – I was a goner. I knew that I would be stuck all weekend glued to my TV, following the Pope’s itinerary. I know, I sound a little superficial from this point and my reasoning sounds very shallow but I believe that my love and admiration for the pope is very progressive.

Pope and his missing skullcap! (Cr: Rappler)
Pope and his missing skullcap! (Cr: Rappler)

I cancelled all of my plans from then on. Everything was contagious – from the energy of the people down to the very human gestures of the Pope. You just can’t help but be drawn in. Seeing him inspire and touch millions of lives is an experience worth sharing. I could go on and on, repeating what most people share.  I just want to preserve this wonderful experience by listing my top 5 reasons why, after a week, I am still on Pope #Sepanx (Separation Anxiety)

1.The Pope is INDEED for everyone

Articles and testimonials all say that the Pope is friends with almost everyone. It’s like he holds a bubble that exudes charisma and a glowing aura. He’s like a friend reaching out and not really directly preaching but just being a friend who invites to bring out the good in you.

My household is a perfect example of this statement. I’m living with my aunt who is a practicing Protestant, my cousin who is a practicing Christian, my uncle and another aunt who are both Bhuddists and our household helps who are Catholic like me. I guess you could call us an inter-religious home. Despite the distinguished difference there was one thing we had in common – we all raved about Pope Francis.

We were all keeping each other updated about the latest news, from where he was headed down to what his quotable quotes were. We all fervently watched the TV coverage and wiping our tears altogether. For the first time in many years, we were all decided on a singular topic and that is one of the greatest gifts Pope Francis imparts to our people and our families. He is like a glue (sorry for the analogy, any other suggestions? haha) that keeps us all together in one place, working harmoniously for a singular goal.

This is also very evident in the amount of news we see the Pope meeting and being a friend to the different religious leaders all over the world. Amazing how he ignites the kind of relationship with these that is so simple yet profound.

Miao Jing of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist association - one of the interreligious leaders who met the Pope at UST
Miao Jing of the Fo Guang Shan Buddhist association – one of the interreligious leaders who met the Pope at UST

Miao lauded and thanked the Pope for “bringing people together, especially with different backgrounds, religions, cultures, traditions.”

“We see how the world is moving into the future, and we always see hope, especially for people with faith.”

Quote from this SITE.

Can you just imagine how peace would be at hand anytime soon?

2. Pope Francis is a living example of Jesus (and we should all take part of this wonderful celebration and follow him)

I am sure the world can come up with a number of reasons but here’s the top of my list:

Pope Francis packs a punch in the way he draws a crowd. I have never in my life seen Roxas Blvd like that. People from all over Manila (and some even from the provinces) flocked and patiently waited for the Pope to pass by. A 6-hr wait for a 3-second glimpse. Amazing.

Pope Francis at the Manila Cathedral (Cr: Rappler)
Pope Francis at the Manila Cathedral (Cr: Rappler)
Maybe 1/8 of the Luneta Crowd?
Crowds flock to get a glimpse of the Pope
Crowds flock to get a glimpse of the Pope

The way Pope Francis receives children. No questions asked, he loves children. It’s so heart wrenching whenever he stops his pope mobile upon seeing the faces of children just to bless them. (High five also to his security personnel who picks up the kids!)

Pope Francis stops his Pope mobile to bless a child

Pope Francis has his way of gathering all of us and making us feel like children – innocent and on full-throttled in our faith, open to receive God without hesitation. Pope Francis has this evangelical zeal that provokes you to walk blindly without feeling scared, in fact you feel more excited than ever – oh, just like children.


3. Pope Francis is a lot like us

From the number of testimonies about his life as Jorge Bergolio up to how he sold of his Harley off an auction. He is definitely one cool Pope. I love how holy he is yet how human he can be. He makes us feel AGAIN that Jesus is a lot like us.

His simplicity really took me by surprise- his choice of vehicle for example wherein he prefers riding a simple closed vehicle like the Ford Focus (here in the Ph, he rode a Volks) instead of a bulletproof car. It makes him feel ordinary, like he is one and living with all of us

His cool (but very simple) ride!
His cool (but very simple) ride!

And of course he has his cute gestures and bloopers. I can’t help laughing whenever his cape flies off during his formal ceremonies or how his skullcap is always missing from his head.

There goes his cape!
There goes his cape!

4. Pope Francis radiate happiness- like a sun peeking through an after-storm

His trip to Tacloban was my undoing. Despite the heavy rains and risk of storms up in the air, he pushed through his flight and embraced Tacloban with a heart full of sympathy, hope and love. How can you not risk the crowds for a pope who risked his flight in an awful weather?

No storm can stop that smile!
No storm can stop that smile!

Quoting Archbishop Villegas from Pope Francis’ last mass at Luneta

I couldn’t agree more!

5. Pope Francis strengthens our faith as a church

In here, faith does not stand out – instead it resonates.

The pope is a shining example of a beacon and herald of peace. His positivity and openness makes me believe and hope that the world can very much be a better place.

We are all God's children (Cr: Yahoo)
We are all God’s children (Cr: Yahoo)

Real love is about loving and letting yourself be loved. It’s harder to let yourself be loved than to love. That is why it is so difficult to come to the perfect love of God. We can love Him but we must let ourselves be loved by Him. Real love is being open to the love that comes to you. The love that surprises us. If you only have information you are not surprised. Love surprises because it opens a dialogue of loving and being loved. God is a God of surprise because He loved us first. God awaits us to surprise us. Let us allow ourselves to be surprised by God. Let us not have a computer psychology that makes us think we know it all. All answers on computers – but no surprises. The challenge of love. God reveals himself through surprises.

Message of Pope Francis to the youth at UST. From Yahoo.

So there are no words for me to say but Thank You. Thank you for awakening our hearts and for always reminding us that the Lord is truly with us, every step of the way. A lot of us may have forgotten but knowing that we have a very persistent shepherd who leads us is a very good start. Most of us are off the beaten track, including me but most of may have received that little push. We’re going there, together. Thank you Papa Francisco, Mabuhay po kayo!

Bonus: Okay, majority will probably agree with me when I say that Pope Francis is adorably cute! Here are some of my favorite moments during his visit in Manila.

In here, the Pope describes how he prays to the families who listened to him at the MOA Arena. To quote him

I would like to tell you something very personal. I like St Joseph very much. He is a strong man of silence. On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph sleeping. While sleeping he looks after the Church.  Yes, he can do it!  We know that. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. This means please pray to St Joseph for this problem.

Pope describes the sleeping Joseph (Cr: Philstar)

The pope also did a rock and roll sign with Bishop Tagle (but this actually means I love you in sign language)

During his visit at the University of Santo Tomas, my school (haha!), the Pope was given gifts which included his own ID and lanyard. Instead of having it kept by one his security people, he wore it all throughout his visit. I wonder if he tried entering the Engineering building?

The Pope’s Administration ID worn at UST (Cr: UST)

One of my favorite moment from his Tacloban visit was when he expressed his message for the victims of the typhoon Yolanda.

Cr to Manila Bulletin's Twitter page
Cr to Manila Bulletin’s Twitter page

P.S. Me and my cousin were able to see Pope during his motorcade after the Luneta mass. Our story could go on and on, on how we waited for several hours, stood in the drizzling rain but it will all come down on how amazing it felt to see his infectious smile bless us. What a great experience!

Awkward selfies!
Awkward selfies!
Anticipating with everybody!

Note: All thoughts and opinions are mine. Most of the pictures are taken from various websites and credited through link sharing upon clicking the photo.


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