After Pope Benedict went inside, more bishops and the missing cardinals went past and inside to some fanfare. We milled about a bit, then streetwards along with the rest of the crowd of thousands – all following a single narrow, predetermined route. It took a while – March-for-Life-long. I'd left my stuff in the MC van, so Jules and I tried to stick with them to find the van.
Along the way, we encountered the Protestants, who were, well, Protesting. Rule #1 of sign-making is that you do not put more on your sign than can be read in a second or two. Ten lines of text is a serious violation of this. That was one, forever uncomprehended, sign. Another challenged we lost Roman Catholics to prove where in the Bible penance is mentioned, or where it says that the Eucharist is Christ. For the first – I don't know. They could be right – where in either Testament does it ever, once, mention the idea of penance? **cough**DavidsackclothashesbaptismofJohn**cough** Hacks. For the second – I couldn't help it. I went straight up to the Protestor, looked him in the sunglasses, and shot back “Take; Eat. THIS – IS – MY - BODY.” (The Byzantine words of consecration – I think I'll be forever confused that way. I still cross myself with three fingers, and “backwards”.) To which his companion replied, in the spirit of true Christian charity and reaching out in love to the fallen, “You've lost your mind!” No. I know Scripture. I know something of its unspoken context. You, sir, do not. You don't even recognize how someone might just take Christ's words at face value. Don’t ever tell me that I am going to Hell for believing in the Eucharist. Just don’t.
Side note: a covenant meal, sealing that covenant, was at the least bread and wine. Why would Christ not leave it at that, unless He meant what He said about His Body and Blood? You can't take that figuratively and still make sense of it; it becomes pointless.
Second side note: After Pope Benedict said that he was “deeply ashamed” by the Scandal and swore to make an end of it, a SNAP spokesman dismissed his statement as “hollow words”. But to be Catholic is to know what power words can have. God gives them such power that they make us His children and clean of sin. They erase from account our later sins and impart to us His forgiveness. They turn bread and wine to His very Body and Blood. Not that what the Pope said rises to the level of a Sacrament. Hardly. But he is the Vicar of Christ, His representative to us – when he speaks he speaks for the Church; for Christ (ideally; I don't know how much Pope Alexander, say, lived this out). I wouldn't recommend ever calling the Pope's words “hollow”.
Anyhow...we tagged along behind the MCs, and lo! there was the van, with its license plate just as I'd scrawled it on my hand! Pulling away from us! Juli gave chase – I was hampered by my skirt – but to no avail. The driver of the second van called the first, and they came back 10 minutes or so later; we collected my things, bade the Sisters goodbye, and headed off to fight the Battle of the Metro Line - nearly lost because Peggy, seasoned veteran of the March for Life though she is, had forgotten to buy a fare card ahead of time.
From there, it was off to a joint birthday dinner (Juli's is the day before mine, or rather 364 days after mine) and discussion of the afternoon. Following the sage advice of Columbia magazine, we did as all good Catholics should and raised mugs of good German beer (Hefeweizen) to Benedict on his birthday. As we were leaving, a girl chased us down to ask where I'd gotten my papal tote bag – she was part of a group, down from Massachusetts, that had so far missed the Pope at every turn and had no Mass tickets. I told her the Shrine, then left with bag and papal-photo-pennant (tomorrow's Mass is in a ballpark, so...). In for a penny, in for a pound – I don't think pennants are in the Bible anywhere.