Karen sent a report last night that indicates the extent of her activities in Washington D.C. It's safe to say that this is an historic trip for her and for the pro-life community in Dallas, which she is representing.
Our flight was cancelled so we were re-booked on the 7:45 pm. We headed to David Bereit's house with him (God bless David for waiting the extra 2 hours for us!) and got to bed at 1:30 am, getting back up at 3:45. We left his house at 4:30 and got in line for our 8 am assigned entry time at the White House at 6:25. David was in the "South Viewing Section" and we were in the "Center Viewing Section" so we were not able to be together during the ceremony. Former Texas Congressman Tim von Dohlen and his wife Pat joined Eddie and me in our line and we were allowed entrance at exactly 8 am. We were thrilled to be among the first to get inside among the thousands who were in the "Center Viewing Section." As it turned out, we got right up at the front of the section, one row behind the black wrought-iron fencing.
When we got there, Matt Lauer was right in front of us finishing up his Today
Show (see pic). We were literally "50-yard line" to the podium and platform, and Tim estimated about 50 yards from it. While we were waiting, more folding chairs were set up just on the other side of the fence after Matt Lauer packed up. This was for the Navy Band. Their uniforms were beautiful! And to be able to hear them, up close, was amazing.
We were able to clearly see the President and Mrs. Bush walk through the doors of the White House and await the Holy Father. We saw him get out of the limousine and walk up onto the platform with President Bush. Our section spontaneously sang "Happy Birthday" to the Holy Father when he first got up onto the platform; the entire crowd was invited to sing it to him when he and President and Mrs. Bush were up on the balcony at the end of the ceremony before entering the White House for the private meeting with President Bush.
President Bush's words of welcome were wonderful. The greatest applause came when he spoke about the "dictatorship of relativism" which the Holy Father says we must fight, and when he said there were some who did not believe that all life needed to be protected and revered. It was awesome.
The Holy Father's address was moving; it was my first time to really hear him give an address in English. He has a precious accent. One fun thing we heard - when the Holy Father was finished with his speech, we heard President Bush whisper to him (over the speaker), "We need to listen to one more song" (imagine hearing "song" in "true West Texan"). That song was "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," and it was spectacular.
It was also a huge blessing once the ceremony concluded to get photos with friends with the White House backdrop. Included were David Bereit, of course, National Director of the 40 Days for Life Campaign; Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life (who just keynoted at our dinner last week); Sean Wolfington, executive producer of Bella
, who spent Bella'
s opening weekend with us in Dallas last October; and we also had the opportunity to get a photo with Dr. Scott Hahn and his wife Kimberly.
Though I couldn't see Bishop Farrell in the bishops' section, we got a shot of Bishop Vann, who was standing at the front of the line. After we left the White House, we saw the buses carrying all the cardinals and bishops and it was fun to see them waving to all the people. God bless our cardinals and bishops!
This evening Eddie, David and I were guests of Fr. Frank's at a 6 pm Mass he celebrated for Legatus, and his homily was fabulous (to be expected).
We're super tired, but grace abounds! We're looking forward to getting a good night's rest tonight as we need to be inside Nationals Stadium no later than 8:30 am. Our understanding is that there are 46,000 ticket holders for inside the stadium.
While today's White House ceremony was tremendous and a highlight of our lives, I am greatly anticipating the even greater blessing of Mass with the Holy Father tomorrow morning, and receiving the papal blessing not only for myself but for all of you whom I am representing. Thanks to all who sent in your intentions for the Mass. I have them in a special envelope that I am taking in with me.
A final note for today - I received an invitation to attend Friday morning's National Catholic Prayer Breakfast and will be sitting with Human Life International. President Bush is confirmed to be coming to speak at the breakfast. As I said on my interview with David today, God bless President Bush. I am so grateful that we have had this pro-life president in the White House these last 8 years. Finally we have seen some legislative progress at the federal and Supreme Court levels for the protection of life. So much hangs in the balance now. Let us pray for our President and for these crucial elections this year.
Love to all and God bless all!
In Christ, For Life,
Karen in DC
8:20 pm Eastern time
Labels: Pope Benedict XVI