At 7.40am on 18th September, some very excited members of the Union of Catholic Mothers arrived at Francis Street, Victoria, writes Margaret McDonald, President of the Liverpool Union of Catholic Mothers. After going through various security checks we finally entered Westminster Cathedral. The sound of the youth gathering outside on the piazza filtered in, the laughter and singing all added to the atmosphere.
The members of the congregation came from all walks of life, every parish and every diocese in the country and we formed one body and were united in our faith.
Around 9.45am the procession of celebrants arrived moving like a red carpet in their red vestments. Then came an air of expectancy and anticipation, even the youth outside were silent, it was if the Cathedral was holding its’ breath.
Suddenly the cymbals clashed, drums rolled and trumpets sounded the music resounding around the walls of the church, heralding the entrance of the Holy Father. This was the moment we had all been waiting for. The celebration of the Mass had begun.
During the Eucharist prayer, which was being said in Latin, I noticed that where normally the celebrant says ‘we pray for our Holy Father, Pope Benedict’, the Holy Father said: 'we offer them for me your unworthy servant whom you have placed over your church’.
At the end of Mass to rapturous applause the Holy Father made his way slowly up the aisle towards the West Door blessing us as he passed by. The doors opened and a great roar went up from the youth they greeted him with cheers and chanting 'Papa Benedicta', it was very emotional to hear them. Their warmth and pleasure at seeing him was obvious to all that saw them.
This article has been difficult to put together, because no words can properly describe the feeling, the aura or the atmosphere of being present at the Papal Mass. I asked the members of our group for their feelings and this is what they said:
There was such a feeling of strength and support. How alive we all felt. Just to be there was a joy, great charisma and feeling. To be in his presence was wonderful. Westminster Cathedral was alive with our Catholic faith when Pope Benedict arrived it was like all heaven was joining us. Encouraging hearing the excitement and enthusiasm of the youth especially that speech of thanks given by their representative.
To round this item off I would like to say we all felt privileged and humble to be able to share in the Papal Mass, it has strengthened all our faith and it is a day that we will never ever forget.