The music began and the Cardinals began to process to the altar. The music was spectacular!
If you look very closely, you will be able to see Pope Benedict's miter and staff next to the black wall.
Incensing the Book of the Gospels. The candles which were held at the ambo are visible.
The Mass was beautiful even though we were watching it on TV. At seemingly every opportunity those seated in the front of the stadium erupted into cheers of Be-ne-dic-to! There was an exceptionally excited group in the upper left level. Before Mass, they had been doing the wave. The bleachers were very quiet.
Communion in my area went very slowly. We were instructed to descend from the top down and to go to the left, down the stairs, through the corridor, around through the inside and back to our seats. It was not even close to the way the video explained it. By the time the Holy Father gave the final blessing only the people in the upper 8 rows had received the Eucharist. I was in the 5th row from the bottom. For some reason, we did not receive Communion.
After Mass, the Holy Father returned to the Popemobile and finally the electric energy returned to the bleachers. We were going to get to see him. The people went to the lower area in order to get a better view, since the wall was higher than the Popemobile. The NYPD in my section did not like that and ordered everyone to return to their seats, although the people in other areas were not ordered to move. The people returned to their seats, but because the group in front of me was refusing to move and was preventing my return to my seat, I was stuck there. The police were getting very testy and I thought someone was going to get arrested. Finally, someone in charge said we could stay at the wall.
Finally he came to my area.
People were screaming and waving the white and yellow handkerchiefs.
The Mass was beautiful, the music was perfect, the homily was awesome. I have since watched the Mass online and we definitely missed out on so much beauty. I know that planning a Mass like this is a huge responsibility, but I hope those who have this responsibility in the future will take care to ensure that the people in the back get as beautiful a view as those in the front. Also, I hope they will realize that even looking at the Holy Father's back from a distance is more exciting than looking at a TV and knowing that the TV is blocking our view. I and those sitting near me would have not minded watching Pope Benedict celebrate Mass ad orientum. It would have created a much more prayerful environment and a sense that we were actually at Mass.
While watching the video I discovered that the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Boston was severely reprimanded by the Secret Service for reaching out to the Holy Father and it even appeared the Pope Benedict, himself, was slapped by an agent. Bishops who reached out to shake hands with the Holy Father did not fare much better. I found security to be far too harsh. I know they had the best of intentions, but I doubt the Pope needs to be protected from his own bishops.
To those who think I am just bitter and ungrateful, I am not. I am delighted to have been there. It was a momentous and spectacular day that I am grateful to have been a part of. I simply think that everyone should have been given equal consideration. This was my 5th time seeing Pope Benedict (I was exceptionally close all 4 previous times); but for most of the people there, this was their first and likely only opportunity. A police officer told me that only 1/3 of the people in the stadium could see the altar. I don't know why the sanctuary was set up the way that it was, but there must have been a better option.
To those who have to plan Masses like this in the future: remember the folks in the cheap seats too! We don't mind facing the same way as the celebrant.
So, after all that, what was the best part of the Mass? For me, it was seeing the Holy Father and being united with Catholics of all ages and walks of life from all over the country. The theme of this Apostolic visit was Christ our Hope and my hope was definately renewed by the large numbers of young seminarians, priests, and sisters, as well as the large numbers of young laity. The church is alive, even if it is not obvious in your own parish.
Photos by Domini Sumus