MattAndJojang's Blog

God. Life. Spirituality.

We’re Excited With The Pope’s Visit

with 6 comments

Photo: Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Photo: Aaron Favila/Associated Press

Tomorrow afternoon, Pope Francis will arrive in our country, the Philippines, for a five-day visit (Jan. 15-19). And we’re all excited!

In a country where 80% of the population (80 million) are Catholics, the Pope is expected to be welcomed with a rock-star intensity.

Josephine Graza, a retired government employee, sums it all up:

Filipinos are excited about the visit because people have a lot of problems and have been through a lot of calamities.

Although our country is rich in natural resources, it has always been plagued by a vast inequality in the distribution of wealth and widespread poverty. It is for this reason that one-tenth of the population is working abroad to support their families.

To compound this, our country is hit by 20+ typhoons every year, causing loss of lives and destruction of property among a populace that, for the most part, are saddled with poverty.

Two years ago our country was hit by Typhoon Haiyan, considered as the strongest typhoon in recorded history. Entire villages were destroyed and thousands were killed.

We’re not surprised that Pope Francis opted to spend a significant amount of time in Leyte, the province that was devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

But even before Pope Francis’s arrival pope mania has swept our country. You can see his face in tarpaulins, posters, shirts, dolls, coffee mugs and all sorts of mementos. Someone even wrote a musical entitled Pope Francis, the Musical in his honor.

Rev. Enrique Luzung, a theologian who plays the young Argentinian pope when he was still then known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, admits that reading about Pope Francis’s life and playing him in the musical has been a life-changing experience for him. He adds:

Through him we see the presence of God.

The Pope’s humility, compassion for the poor, and message of God’s mercy has touched not only Rev. Luzung, but also countless numbers of individuals — I and my wife included.

In the words of Marina Bringas, a retired doctor:

You always feel that he cares.


Written by MattAndJojang

January 14, 2015 at 1:24 pm

6 Responses

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  1. What a wonderful experience for your country. I just was reading that the Pope had cancelled a meeting or two, and that the rigors of the trip were tiring him. I hope he’s had time to rest and recover a bit, and that his time in your country inspires him as much as it surely will the faithful there.


    January 14, 2015 at 9:41 pm

  2. We’re really pumped-up and excited with Pope Francis’s visit, Linda! The last time a pope visited us was 20 years ago — when Pope John Paul II visited us for the World Youth Day. Pope John Paul II was so impressed with the warm reception that we gave him. (Filipinos are well known for their hospitality).

    In fact, during the culminating Mass he celebrated for the World Youth Day, 5 million people came. He remarked that he has never seen such a great number of people gathered in one place in his entire life!

    I’m sure that Pope Francis will receive also the same kind of warm welcome and hospitality. We’re expecting at least the same number of people (5 million) to attend his Mass. But it could be more!

    I, too, was concerned when he cancelled some of his meetings. I think it had something to do with the weather. Although, here in Sri Lanka and the Philppines, we’re experiencing a relatively cooler weather during this time of the year, he still found the weather too warm. I hope by the time he visits us he already got acclimatized with the kind of tropical climate we have.



    January 15, 2015 at 11:06 am

  3. I continue to be inspired by Pope Francis. In case you haven’t seen it, here’s the homily he gave a few days ago when he canonized St. Joseph Vaz in Sri Lanka:


    January 17, 2015 at 7:41 pm

  4. Indeed he’s such an inspirational figure, Bill. I’ve been profoundly touched by his visit to our country. It’s the 4th day of his visit and he just finished the last Papal event — a culminating Mass at Luneta Park in Manila. Despite the stormy weather millions (estimates range from 3-6 million) attended the event!

    Yesterday he also celebrated Mass at Tacloban, Typhoon Haiyan’s ground zero. 500 kilometers south of Manila, some were dissuading him with pushing through with his trip because of an approaching typhoon. But he insisted on going to Tacloban. He said that the reason that he visited our country was to be with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan.

    In the midst of constant rains and gusty winds, he celebrated an open-air Mass near the Tacloban International Airport, where he delivered a moving homily. He spoke from the heart (discarding his prepared homily), bringing many people to tears. Many of us felt that he truly cared.

    Tomorrow he’ll be leaving our country and going back to the Vatican. We will surely miss him. During these past few days he was truly a Christlike figure, touching us with his humility, simplicity, and compassion.

    Thank you for sharing the link to his homily during the canonization of St. Joseph Vaz. I’ll surely take the time to read it.



    January 18, 2015 at 7:11 pm

  5. Hi Matt,

    I’ve just seen some of the extraordinary scenes from your home land. A bitter sweet feeling. Sweet to see some much enthusiasm for the faith and for life in these pictures. But sad in the knowledge that my own home, the birthplace of the Anglican faith and more important to me one of the seed beds for the Celtic faith, now feels in many ways, a pagan land. I emphasise not totally pagan as there are many great Churches and people here, but it does seem to have lost some of its great Christian heritage. Anyway, I’m sure you are so pleased to see your home land in celebration, and I celebrate with you !

    God Bless you loads Matt


    Senan of Somerset

    January 18, 2015 at 8:22 pm

  6. Yes, Senan, it was truly extraordinary. He showed us the human face of Christ, and our nation – in the millions! – warmly welcomed him! Needless to say, I was profoundly affected by the person and message of Pope Francis. You can see that he is an authentic human being, a true pastor and shepherd who truly cared for people.

    Saddened to know that the Christian faith in your country is on the decline. I just hope that this will be remedied in the future.

    Sad to say, too, that this is happening is many places.

    We are grateful that, in spite of the many challenges we face (especially poverty), the Philippines is still blessed with a strong sense faith. A Filipino Jesuit priest once said that the Filipino is gifted with 2 things: faith and music.

    In these challenging times when our faith is being challenged, I am grateful to God for raising a spiritual leader like Pope Francis…




    January 20, 2015 at 8:37 am

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