A MEETING AT THE POPE'S WINDOW
Standing near the Pope Francis during the Angelus prayer is an event which are remembered for the whole life. But that is not everything. This openness makes it possible to talk to him like with a friend. It is particularly important for young people.
It was a boiling hot afternoon in Rome when a few days ago my manager – Fr. Grzegorz Suchodolski phoned me to pass this unusual message to me: - Could you accompany the Holy Father during a registration for the World Youth's Days? - he asked and I literally got speechless.Two days later, in the company of Fr. Joao Chagas from the Papal Council for Laymen. I was walking in cool corridors of the Apostolic Palace. We were being accompanied by Pierangelo Domo. - who was also to accompany the Holy Father during the registration. It has happened so far – said Fr. Joao – that the Pope got registered, cklicking on electric devices, but it is the first time he has been doing it in public and when being accompanied by the representatives of the World Youth Days. This made me feel an unusual person of the situation even more. However, I was not completely aware of how unusual that moment would be.
The window known by the whole world belongs to an office in which Benedict XVI and John Paul II, as well as the previous popes had worked on new documents. However, it has not been so any more since pope Francis decided to live in St. Martha House. Shelves, once filled with books, are empty now. There is only a desk in the room, on which a crucifix has been left behind, as well as an old phone. The one which was used by our grandparents when they were young.
When we got there, a CTV group was waiting for us with a photographer of 'L'Osservatore Romano'. They were excited. - We do not usually come here, because transmissions are only from outside, but in such particular cases everyone is put up on their feet – a camera operator joked.
After a while, the Pope's secretary came to tell us briefly what to do. Finally, also the Holy Father appeared. Smiling, as usually, I shook hands with everyone.
That short moment was sufficient to tell one's name. However, it was not the right moment for a longer talk. The Secretary asked the Holy Father to re-check the registration, so the Pope clicked an icon on a tablet but it did not work. He had to re-do it several times and commented on it with a smile that it could have been much easier for him to get registered for the World Youth's Days in handwriting.
A moment later, that is, before 12 o'clock, the weekly rite began. Curtains were spread apart and in the opened window a canvass with Pope's embroidered emblem was hung. This is a part of the meeting which we know from TV and the St. Peter Square.
Francis came up to the window. Seeing him, the crowd started cheering. When the Holy Father was leading the Angelus prayer, we all gathered at the microphone in the room and were responding to Pope's invocations.
'Now I know whom I hear in the background, when I watch the Angelus prayer on TV' – I thought, smiling to myself, when thinking that these are not often female voices.
Then it happened what we all were waiting for. The Pope's Secretary invited me and Pierangel to go to Francis, who received a tablet with an open registration website for the World Youth's Days.
We came up to him closer and the view from the window was incredible. The St. Peter Square was surrounded by a row of people who started cheering with their enthusiasm, when seeing us.
I did not expect it. 'They are also experiencing this moment as much as we are. They are happy with us' – I thought, for the first time experiencing what the meeting will be like which we are going to experience next year.
Although there are so many of us, and we do not know one another at all, there is something particular here which unites us. People from various countries and of various cultures become dear to one another thanks to Jesus and this visible sign is the Holy Father. In such moments I feel metaphysical shivers. I do not know how many people were near the Pope in this window before, and whether somebody was there at all, but I felt that I was becoming a part of history.
- Now I have been registered – announced Francis, opening a road to the meeting in Cracow for all young pilgrims.
After the prayer, when the window was covered with curtains again, the Pope devoted us his time for a talk. I could see his surprised face when I said that I was from Poland. This funny face expression was photographed by a photographer from 'L'Osservatore Romano'. The Pope looked as if he had been told that I was his cousin.
Because I spoke Italian, he did not think that I was Polish. He got happier when I added that I was working for the World Youth's Days.
- I live in Warsaw – I said – we are waiting for you also there, Holy Father. - They say that Cracow is whole Poland – the Pope joked.
Moreover, referring to the statement of Pierrange that two hours were enough for him to read the last encyclical, Francis laughed that it had taken him more time to write it.
He was not in hurry. He was only joking all the time, also with every cameraman. We were feeling with him quite freely.
One cannot feel in any other way with somebody who speaks with his eyes: I want to know who you are, my friend. I was looking at him and I thought that one must have a young spirit to be able to give so much to others.
The Pope also gave us rosaries and asked us in a serious tone to pray for him a lot. I was struck with the tone in which he emphasized the word 'very'.
It was clear to me that papacy is not a road full of cheers and smiles of enthusiastic crowds. This is a burden. And I do not even want to think how big it is. It suggests a lot of ideas that pope Francis can give so much joy to others. May all young people, who will meet him next year, be able not only to understand this silent testimony, but also go along this route.