I have seen Pope Francis and I felt God's presence
On January 15-19, 2015 the visit of Pope Francis to the Philippines
When I first heard the news that Pope Francis will visit Philippines, the first thing came into my mind was, “I wanted to be there!”. I know it would be impossible but a month before his visit, my friend told me that there are slots to given by the youth commission of the Archdiocese for the Papal Youth Encounter at University of Santo Tomas. I never stopped praying for it, until the day came that a friend of mine texted me and asked for the basic information needed for the registration. From that very moment, I felt God’s presence for He has never failed me in my petition.
I have seen Pope Francis as the Pope mobile passes by in front of me three times. First when he arrived at UST, the second one is in that place too but in different position. The moment I saw him, at first glance I saw him shining like the sun, I can see him radiating the light of Christ, a very overwhelming sight that I know I will never experience again. At first I thought I will just see a normal person who is a foreigner but everything changes. The moment I heard the people cheering, my heart beats fast and I can’t really explain the mixed emotions I have had until the very moment the Pope mobile passes in front of me, for almost 10 seconds, my eyes are following him and it seems that I am watching him for a very long time. When I saw the Pope, all those people who asked for prayers came into my mind – until I haven’t noticed that tears flowed my eyes, I was dumbstruck even though I wanted to shout out “Lolo Kiko!”, and I found myself shouting “Pope Francis We love you! Viva il Papa!”, when he is no longer in front of me. Since we are at the back of the quadrant, we have had a good sight in seeing him, and when the people in front run to our place even if Pope Francis is no longer there I called my two companions, Dennis and Karlo, to go in front of the quadrant, and there we saw him again passes by. This time, I was able to shout out loud everything I wanted to say.
When the Pope started to give his message to us during the Papal Youth Encounter, I listened to him intimately. I looked on the wide screen provided and every now and then looked at him sitting at the stage. His message was extravagant and left me dissatisfied of the life that I have had now. I listened to him as if he is speaking to me in a very personal way, my tears wanted to fall but I am stopping it, but in the moment we sung the 1995 World Youth Day theme song “Tell the World of His Love”, I really have to give in and my tears continuously fall, having the thought of I was in the same place and time when my inspiration St. John Paul II talked to the youth during his 1995 visit on the very place. After almost one and a half hour of listening to the Pope, we go to Quirino Grandstand to attend the concluding Mass of the Pope, holding in my hands the pocket size image of the Sto. Niño since it was his feast day. It was almost an hour of walk under the rain.
Since there is a multitude of people, with an estimated faithful of 6 million, we know we will not be able to have the chance to go in to the place adjacent to the altar that is why we go near a wide screen to be able to see what is happening. Then all of a sudden, the screen flashes the arrival of Pope Francis to Luneta, I was amazed when I saw the people cheered and shouted the name of the Pope even if they only see him in the screen. But to my surprise, I saw a car passes in front of us with a camera, that was the only time I realized that the place where we are standing is the street where Pope Francis will pass. From that moment I did not stop jumping until the Pope mobile passes and I was able to see the face of the Holy Father again. We were able to attend the Mass in front of a screen, and since there was a multitude of people, we never expect of receiving the Holy Eucharist since we are really too far from the altar. To our surprise, we saw a white umbrella opened with the Papal Coat of Arms, it is a hint that an acolyte will post there to distribute communion, so we go there and received Christ in the very special day of our life.
The impact to the Filipino people? I can never tell, all I know is that we have a renewed and strengthened faith as a father consoled and encouraged his children. There is unending grace, even if there is an elbow to elbow situation, all still end up peacefully and all of us can say that we are really blessed. The weather was not good, but God really planned for it, since the Pope visited us to see those people stricken by the typhoon Yolanda, and if not by that weather, maybe many people will fall unconscious under the sun. I will never forget this experience and the memorable part of it is not only the moment I saw the Pope but also the moment I saw the Filipino people very happy and feeling blessed at the presence of the Holy Father. And lastly, I will never forget his smile, waves, humors, and inspirational messages as he sent us as missionaries to Asia and to the world. by Renniel Jayson Jacinto Rosales