April 15, 2008
Pope Benedict is coming to America today. Yesterday I received an e-mail from the Catholic University of America alumni office, telling me that, as an alumnus (Ph.D., 1995), I am entitled to stand on the university lawn opposite the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception and “cheer on the Holy Father as he arrives to and departs from the Basilica” tomorrow evening if I get to the CUA Office of Alumni Relations before 6 p.m. today so as to obtain a ticket. I mentioned this possibility to my friend Bill Ney, the author of the blog The New Combat, who had called me on the phone yesterday evening; he was very enthusiastic about the idea, essentially because it would mean he could get a ride with me down to Annapolis and could visit people at St. John’s College. To do this, I would need to pack up my car within the next hour, drive from the end of Long Island into the city (in rush-hour traffic), pick up Bill Ney in Brooklyn, drop things off at my father’s house in New Jersey, mail my taxes, drive down to Maryland (about a 3½ hour trip), drop Bill Ney off at a tutor’s house in Annapolis, then drive into Washington, D.C. in more rush-hour traffic so as to retrieve the said ticket, which will be offered “on a first-come, first-served basis.” All this so as perhaps to catch from afar a fleeting glimpse of the pope’s white skullcap, amongst cheering crowds of my non-co-religionists (non-co-“separated-brethren”?). The mathematical possibilities of my pulling this off seem decidedly slim, and one might wonder if it is worth the trouble and expense and the wear and tear on car and nerves, but I may do it anyway, partly as a favor to Bill Ney, partly as a way of distracting my mind from recent low spirits and bad poetry, but partly from the remote possibility that I might actually receive a blessing.