We got up very early, and were out the door by 5:15 a.m. When we got to the Metro station there was abundant parking, and plenty of staff, too. Metro did a great job (coming and going). Even at the transfer station, even during the morning rush with worshippers and commuters sharing the system, it was efficient.
We got to the stadium with LOTS of time to spare. Our seats were way up high, actually against the back fence. The sun is bright in this picture, but by mass time the sun had risen enough to shade us.
Yes, WAY up high!Security was tight, but not really obvious. It took a while for us to notice the snipers.
There were several choirs singing before mass. They seemed very talented. I say seemed, because we could hear the music, but not much of the singing. This is when we began to realize that something was amiss: the speakers were not functioning in our section. We were hearing the echoes from the main level. Unfortunately, they were never fixed, so we did not hear the mass, sermon, announcements--ZIP!
As much as I wanted to see Pope Benedict XVI, I was just as excited to have the chance to worship with 46,000 fellow Catholics. But without hearing the readings, prayers, or songs, I just didn't feel a part of it. Of course, we did participate (We know how mass goes, after all.), and we received Communion and the Pope's blessing, but it was a HUGE disappointment. We were there for hours, and didn't hear anything but echoes.
Even while we were there I began working on my personal damage control. The idea that helped me the most was Purgatory. Bear with me. I've tried several ways to explain Purgatory to my children. They get that whole "cleaning up your soul so you can be in Heaven" bit, but sometimes it doesn't sound like a great place to be. I've pointed out that it's GOOD because you know you're going to Heaven sooner or later--it's just a place of yearning. Like if you walk into the house and smell cookies baking but you can't have them. There's something you want very much, and you know how good it is, but you can't have it yet. That's my humble comparison to yearning to be in God's presence when I'm not quite ready.
So that was how I tried to console myself in the stadium. I thought about how much I wanted to participate fully and be a part of the mass and the crowd of worshippers. I could imagine what I missing, but couldn't have it. That yearning made me think of Purgatory. Yes, I know the real thing will be more intense, but that's what I came up with. I am very proud of my children. They got up early and waited a long time and then couldn't hear, but they did not complain. They were so good about the whole thing!