I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely feeling the Francis Effect. Pope Francis’s visit to the U.S. had me spilling tears of joy, glued to the TV watching his every move and the crowd’s reaction to his presence. I did my best to quiet everyone within ear shot so that I could make out the words the Pontiff was saying during his speech to Congress and masses in both New York and Philadelphia.
As a lifelong catholic, I was overwhelmed with emotion. The Pope’s message is clear, and it spoke to me. It’s one of faith, hope and love. He lives and breathes compassion and mercy. He calls us to lead lives of service and humility, within God’s grace. He brings this message to life by reaching out and connecting with the common man and woman, without sanctimonious proposals, harsh judgment or focusing on others’ wrongdoings.
Francis’s papacy has been inspiring, and because of him I’ve felt an even stronger connection to the Catholic Church. He is a true fatherly figure. He overflows with joy as he spreads the word of God’s love to the world. He offers benevolence in his words and in his calls to action. He brings light to the darkness that surrounds the problems of today’s world. He recognizes that it is humans’ toil that is necessary to bring about the changes that may appear divine.
Personally, I spent last week wanting to be more like Pope Francis. I’m far from a perfect catholic, perfect parent or perfect daughter, but I felt invigorated by the possibility that Pope Francis could provide that inspiration to help me become better at all three. I’ve always felt a calling to serve my community in any small way that I could. I’ve truly learned that all the little things any one of us does can make a positive impact on the lives of others or on the Earth. I do my best to share these feelings freely with my children. I’ve told them that any act of kindness or consciousness counts, from simply checking on an elderly neighbor to purchasing recycled products.
As parents, regardless of what religion you practice or if you don’t believe in a higher power at all, you can use the inspirational messages Pope Francis has bestowed upon us to guide your children with similar wisdom. We can parent our children with love and compassion, explaining to them that in order for our world to be a more peaceful place, we must be respectful of one another’s differences and mindful of the world that was created for our habitation. We should honor the aging in our societies, help the underprivileged, protect our children and do whatever possible to ensure that families in the most dire of circumstances stay together. These are not unattainable or overly idealistic notions, but they are the lifeblood of what allows life to flourish, peace to prevail and the Earth to continue to exist.
See, like Pope Francis’s message, parenting transcends politics. Love and hope have no political party or religious affiliation. I think that became abundantly clear in Phila. when thousands of people from all ethnicities, representing a variety of religions, came to see Pope Francis. He showed that despite the evil that exists in the world, the overwhelming majority of humans is good. I know that the entire Phila. region has been touched by his visit. He valiantly met with incarcerated individuals at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility, as well as comforted victims of clergy sexual abuse. He embraced babies and those too weak or simply unable to walk or stand. He showed us the clarity of Jesus’s teachings with each move that he made, and showed us that faith, hope and love can be cures to almost any of life’s ills.