Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My personal favorites from Pope Francis' visit to America!

Just a quick rundown of the things that struck me the most during the Holy Father's recent visit to America, in no particular order...

The sheer joy (and tears) he brought with simple acts of love and kindness:

Underneath this video on Facebook, the comments were extraordinary, including these:

From a Muslim commenter -- "Pope Francis makes me believe in humanity."

From a secular commenter -- "I am not a religious person but i have so much respect and admiration for this pope. He is doing so much good in this world. You can tell he truly cares about people and has an amazing heart. If there is a god, this is exactly the kind of person who should represent him."

And who could not be moved by this woman's reaction to seeing the pope? Fourteen years ago, she was a first-hand witness to the devastation of 9/11, and she has been searching for hope ever since:

The Vicar of Christ's job description is to restore hope to a weary world.

How heartening was Pope Francis' unscheduled stop to visit and support the Little Sisters of the Poor, who are embroiled in a lawsuit against the Obama administration, fighting for religious liberty and conscience rights!

Pope Visits US Nuns Involved in 
Obamacare Contraception Lawsuit

Those who would say that gay marriage laws trump rights of conscience might want to know what the pope had to say about that when questioned by reporters on a flight:

...conscientious objection is a right that is a part of every human right. It is a right. And if a person does not allow others to be a conscientious objector, he denies a right." 
Francis added: "Conscientious objection must enter into every juridical structure because it is a right, a human right. Otherwise we would end up in a situation where we select what is a right, saying, 'this right has merit, this one does not.'" 
Asked if this principle applied to government officials carrying out their duties, he replied: "It is a human right and if a government official is a human person, he has that right. It is a human right."
Is anyone listening? Obama?

UPDATE! Check this out:

(And he told her to "stay strong!")

And in the "Funniest and Weirdest Thing I've Seen in a Long Time" category:

Take note that this Congressman and the other Democrat he called over are Catholics who proudly support the evil of abortion. Perhaps their "thirst" for something holy, as misguided as it was, is a sign that they might one day turn back to Christ and Truth? Someone should tell them that the Sacrament of Confession, rather than thievery, would be a better way to cleanse their souls.

My nephew in New York waited outside for four hours to get into Madison Square Garden for the pope's mass, and he texted me after:
Mass was amazing! I've never seen so many people packed in the streets -- even for New York -- or someone so wildly popular. It was an incredible experience. You would never guess that New York was secular and liberal based on the reception haha 
Oh yes, the dying, irrelevant, out-of-touch Catholic Church, led by an old, celibate white man had secular New York City electrified and cheering! Go figure. ;)

And oh wasn't it beautiful, during the Festival of Families in Philadelphia, when several international Catholic families greeted the Pope and told their stories! The Jordanian family who has endured real persecution for Christ; the Nigerian wife and mother who poured out her painful and incredible story of faithfulness; St. Gianna Molla's own daughter reading a love letter from her mother to her father, Pietro, written just days before they married, then the saint's daughter embracing the Holy Father!

Too many other incredible moments to mention, but all so affirming of families, of our Faith, and of the universality of the Church. We are blessed, and everyone is invited to join us!

Now, as for commentary, this is my favorite. So many Catholics and non-Catholics have their reasons for loving Pope Francis, but also their reasons for criticizing him for what he did or did not do. Dr. Gerard Nadal, a pro-life and pro-marriage warrior of many years, said it best:

[Some traditionalist Catholics] paint a picture of a pope who has ignored the red meat issues of American Catholicism’s troubles in favor of a left-wing socio-political agenda. How do you solve a problem like Francis? How do you catch a cloud and pin it down? (Cue the Sound of Music) 
But as this papacy has unfolded, something about traditionalists’ complaints over Francis calls attention back on the traditionalists and their hero popes, John Paul II and Benedict XVI. In thirty-five years of these two giant popes, we have witnessed all of the heavy-lifting both philosophically and theologically on the sexual revolution and the decline of the status of human persons in the twentieth century. We’ll be unpacking their writing for decades to come. As western civilization has crumbled, we clamor for more writing, more words, more defense of the sacred. And we get to the point where this author needs to ask, “What more needs to be said?” How many more words? How many more documents? How many more encyclicals? How many more speeches, homilies, press conferences?
Read the whole thing, here:

And if some of you are still bothered by what you perceive to be Francis' "silence" on the issue of abortion, why did Planned Parenthood get so upset with him? They heard him loud and clear. Don't we hear him, too?

And as for marriage, what about this?

And this?

Needless to say, our understanding, shaped by the interplay of ecclesial faith and the conjugal experience of sacramental grace, must not lead us to disregard the unprecedented changes taking place in contemporary society, with their social, cultural – and now, unfortunately juridical – effects on family bonds. These changes affect all of us, believers and non-believers alike. Christians are not “immune” to the changes of their times. This concrete world, with all its many problems and possibilities, is where we must live, believe and proclaim. 
Until recently, we lived in a social context where the similarities between the civil institution of marriage and the Christian sacrament were considerable and shared. The two were interrelated and mutually supportive. This is no longer the case.

And, if there was any doubt about the Pope's very reason for visiting America, he cleared that up when he said to the US Bishops:

“I appreciate the unfailing commitment of the Church in America to the cause of life and that of the family, which is the primary reason for my present visit.”

Can anyone be unsure of what he meant?

Finally, our Papa is fully aware of the crisis of young people who are forgoing marriage and family. In perhaps my favorite passage from his trip, Pope Francis asks pastors, in his address to bishops from around the world, to invite young people to choose marriage and family over the "culture of discouragement":

Many young people, in the context of this culture of discouragement, have yielded to a form of unconscious acquiescence. They are paralyzed when they encounter the beautiful, noble and truly necessary challenges which faith sets before them. Many put off marriage while waiting for ideal conditions, when everything can be perfect. Meanwhile, life goes on, without really being lived to the full. For knowledge of life’s true pleasures only comes as the fruit of a long-term, generous investment of our intelligence, enthusiasm and passion. 
...[W]e are living in a culture that convinces and pushes young people toward not founding a family. Some because of a lack of material resources and others because they have so many resources that they are very comfortable as they are. And this is the temptation: to not found a family. 
[We must extend] a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family.... We have to make young people excited about taking this risk, because this is a risk for fecundity and life.... 
...A pastor must show that the “Gospel of the family” is truly “good news” in a world where self-concern seems to reign supreme! We are not speaking about some romantic dream: the perseverance which is called for in having a family and raising it transforms the world and human history.

There is so much more from his trip to America that I missed! I want to find a way (and time) to go back and watch all the footage, every event and homily, and yet I'm pretty sure I won't be able to. At least I have these highlights, and I'd love to hear yours!

PS: The US Bishops have pretty much every event and homily and speech right here on their site.


  1. Those two videos just destroyed me. I blubbered like a toddler.

    I enjoyed everything I saw on t.v. while Pope Francis visited our country. I watched some mainstream coverage which was actually ok. I only had to correct them aloud about 40% of the time, but nothing too mentally strenuous.

    I believe this country was just so ripe for some goodness and beauty when he arrived. The people reacted so warmly and eagerly just to be near this holy man who is the messenger of hope and mercy to a bitter world.

    I got a kick out of the cassock-clad Women Priests protesting his visit, though. As if.
    I wanted to tell them with gentle concern in my furrowed brow, “I’m so very sorry but you cannot ever be priests. The Church has no authority to even give you those faculties. Is there any way you can learn to be okay with that?” (Flaky expression)

    Actually, these women need to just be at peace with the many roles women have in the Body. We are powerful in the Church, we are honored as women. There is no question.

    I am very glad the Pope visited this country, it generated some good conversation for me with others, which is always good. I was happy to see the warm reception, and I hope the visit has trickle-down effects on people (not just on Catholics) for many months to come.

  2. Amen to all of that, Nubby! But this:

    "Is there any way you can learn to be okay with that?"

    ha ha, YES!!! That's exactly it! Goodness, it would be so nice if those ladies could be at peace.

  3. I was pleasantly surprised at how Pope Francis endeared himself to friends and family who are protestant or fallen away Catholics; they were clamoring, (long distance), to obtain papal mementos from my niece,(CUA student), who was working at the Shrine gift shop.

  4. USCCB has most of the visit on their website. I hope to re-watch as much as I can!

  5. Oh, that is so good to know, Kaitlin! Thank you!

  6. Leila, where did you hear the stories of the Jordanian, Nigerian, and of St. Gianna's daughter? I'd love to read about it or watch the videos!

  7. http://www.usccb.org/about/leadership/holy-see/francis/papal-visit-2015/papal-visit-2015-video-on-demand.cfm

    Lianna, it should be on that link! :) :) I'm going to add the link to the post.

  8. What a class act he is! Interviewed on the plane back to Rome:

    "I came here to do something, to do good, perhaps I have done wrong, forgive me but protect all those people who saw me, who thought of what I said, who heard me, even those who have criticized me, all of them."

  9. Leila,

    Your favorites are my favorites! :) I so wish I could have been where all the action was, but it wasn't meant to be! Documenting it on my blog is one way to keep the historical event sketched in my memory though :) Loved all your links and reflections. I linked up to your post on my brief Pope Francis post here: Just to let you know I linked up to your post here on my brief Pope Francis post :) Here’s the link: http://www.asliceofsmithlife.com/2015/09/pope-francis-visits-us-and-we-visit.html

  10. Tracy, that is awesome! Thank you!! I'm glad you linked your post!!

  11. Fingers crossed my commenting works (this is Sonja ... trying a different sign in and browser). I just wanted to say that I was beyond amazed by the entire experience in Philadelphia. I am lucky to live here and just had to take the trolley and public transit down. It was beyond moving to be surrounded by so many people who support the family and the church. Top moments for me -- hearing Scott Hahn, the Popcaks, Simcha Fisher, and getting to MEET St. Gianna's daughter! The gorgeous Our Lady Undoer of Knots installation next to the Basilica ... also, of course, getting to be 25 feet away from Pope Francis! Meeting so many different people from around the world and feeling completely rejuvenated and uplifted by the entire experience. It blew me away!

  12. To reinforce the thrust of your comments, just learned this morning that Pope Francis met with Kim Davis - wow!

    1. I saw that, and I was so happy! He told her to "stay strong"!!! Awesome, Papa!

  13. Was it Jesus I saw by the touches of his hands,
    Was it Jesus I saw stand behind each microphone,
    Was it Jesus I saw light up in the faces of open-hearts,
    Was it Jesus I saw light up the broken and childlike innocent,
    Was it Jesus I saw strengthening believers,
    Was it Jesus I saw in the joy and mesmerized
    Was it Jesus I heard as the words softly entered my ears,
    It was Jesus I...................gh

  14. "our papa is fully aware of the crisis of young people who are forgoing marriage and family." Uhh? Not really a crisis. Just shows that many people nowadays have no interest in imprisoning themselves.

  15. I echo JoAnna's question. Night Cruller, you seem cynical and I hate to see that in anyone.

  16. Cynical? Guilty as charged. I think it is just too risky for a man to marry today. He is putting his fate in the hands of a woman. These men and women are making these vows of "till death do us part" but down the road there are so many divorces. Over 70% of these divorces are initiated by the woman. You would think the top reason for these divorces would be abuse or infidelity but it isn't. It is "dissatisfaction" with the marriage on the part of the woman. Now the husband is kicked out of his home and loses half his income and possessions. He also only sees his kids on the weekend. The woman doesn't lose nearly as much. A lot of guys see this happening out there and are wisely not taking the risk for little reward.

  17. Where are you getting your stats, NC?

    However, I DO agree with you that no-fault divorce is a scourge on society and should be abolished.

  18. Yes, divorce is a terrible thing, marriage comes with risk, and often men are left by the woman. I've seen it. So the answer is no to marry? I don't think that's the answer. Also, what about fatherhood? What about children? Where do they fit in, in a world where men do not marry?

  19. Don't worry., there will always be plenty of gullible guys wanting to marry, just not as many as there were before. The times they are a changin'.

  20. Again, Night Cruller, what about children? Fatherhood? You and I both know that these perpetual bachelors are not chaste. They are having sex throughout their lives, and they are producing babies (because that what sex does, biologically), babies that are either being aborted, or growing up without their fathers in the home or at all. What about the children, if men do not marry?

  21. "You and I both know that these perpetual bachelors are not chaste". I don't know that is true in all cases. You have a low opinion of non-married people, especially men. It takes two to tango, why don't these women just say no to these guys until they get a wedding ring?

  22. Night Cruller, it's a great question! Why don't women say no until they get a wedding ring? Why do you think they don't? I think a big part of it is that the culture mocks that sort of thing now. Remember, we are supposed to be all about sexual freedom and pleasure, and the girls get that from a young age.

    I never say that it was true "in all cases". I know chaste single men. They are definitely not the norm in this pornified, hook-up culture, would you agree? The chaste men I know are usually devoutly religious. But I don't think most of the men in this country who are delaying or foregoing marriage are doing so for reasons of consecrated celibacy, priesthood, or still waiting for their spouse, do you?

    It's not that I have a low opinion of non-married people, it's that I have a low opinion of the culture and the messages the culture sends to unmarried (and married) people. Am I so far off base?

  23. But could you go back and answer my actual question? Thanks! :)

  24. This was good for me to read, Leila - we watched much of the coverage and we love him, but I do have to admit to a bit of ;traditional Catholic' letdown that he didn't kick us harder in the pants. ;) BUT, as you've shown, there was no mystery behind his words; they were all affirming Truth.


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