The Sisters boarded the bus at 5:00am to await entry into El Escorial for their audience with Pope Benedict XVI scheduled to take place at 11:30am. We arrived a little before 6:00am and were the only ones their at that time. We were permitted to wait at the entrance, and were the first ones through the threshold as soon as the pilgrims were allowed admittance. This was at about 9am. We stood for several hours awaiting the arrival of His Holiness. It was well worth it.
Some of our Sisters were within 5 feet of our Holy Father as he passed through. The walls nearly blew out with cheers as we heard our Holy Father address the religious there as “mis queridas hermanas religiosas preciosas” (my beloved and beautiful consecrated religious). The young sister who greeeted him with a brief address truly spoke for all of us as she told him of our love and support. She promised him our love and prayers, and she assured him that while the cross which our Lord has given him is heavy he is not alone because “we are here.” The consecrated hearts around the world have come to him and will help him to carry the burden of the cross.
Afterwards, our Holy Father met with a young professor. His message resonated deeply in hearts since we are all called to educate the world in Christ. He emphasized the need to seek the truth while we are young, and said that faith and reason need each other. We must not bring our students only “nosotros mismos” (ourselves). Rather we must lead them to the Truth we are all seeking.
In the evening, many participated in the Way of the Cross presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. The Stations were profound, guiding the pilgrims into a deeper experience of the Passion of Christ. One could experience in each Station the passion of our own beloved Holy Father as he too, walks the Way of the Cross together with the Church.