September 28, 2015

Observations on Pope Francis’ Visit to the U. S.

One of Pope Francis’ eight titles is Vicar of Jesus Christ designating him as a representative, deputy or agent of Christ. He is the principal spokesman for Christ in the Catholic Church, and without a doubt one of the most admired Christians in the  world.

During his epic visit to the United States, the Pope was seen in person or on television by millions around the world. His message of love, forgiveness, mercy and service touched the hearts of people of all faiths. It may have even touched some atheists.

The Spirit of God is clearly evident in this son of an Italian immigrant who became the Supreme Pontiff of the Catholic Church. He is a charismatic and eloquent spokesman for Jesus Christ and his thoughts about goodness, truth and beauty were plain-spoken and unambiguous.

Pope Francis’ primary purpose for coming to the United States was to participate in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. With warmth and conviction, he challenged families to share little gestures of love and to be models of tenderness, affection and compassion.  He also referred to the family as, “the most beautiful thing God made.” 

Despite a rigorous schedule, the Pope always appeared to have a look of serenity and joy. He often spoke with great passion especially when he veered off his script. He addressed huge crowds, but he also found time to greet and embrace individuals, especially children and those who were physically or mentally challenged.

I am just one of the millions of people who were touched and moved by Pope Francis, his demeanor, his words and his love for Christ. At a time when our world is so fractured with war, idealogical differences and disagreements, Papa Francisco brought us together speaking as the Vicar of Jesus Christ.

September 5, 2015

A Life in the Presence of God

Long ago when I was a college admissions officer, I interviewed a student who proudly told me she wrote poetry. When I invited her to recite one of her poems for me, she responded with a verse about death which ended, “And when you are dead, you are stone cold dead.”

Recently, a  friend of ours for many years lost her mother at age 91. As followers of Christ, both our friend and her mother met the angel of death with stout hearts, believing in Jesus’ promise as recorded in the Gospel of John:
“I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.”
Both our friend and her mother were convinced that beyond this life there lies a heavenly kingdom and a life of beauty and peace and love; a life of reunion with loved ones; a life without sorrow, tears or pain; a life to be lived in the presence of God.

When she lived among us, our friend’s mother was surrounded by the wonders of God’s natural world which she loved and celebrated in poetry and song. Sadly, everything she admired and loved in this world is perishable. Now her eternal home is in a place where all life and everything beautiful is immortal. 

How do people who have no faith in the promises of Jesus endure the experience of losing a loved one? Without hope and faith, the depth of despair must be overwhelming.  For them, death is a cold space into which we are launched, and we are simply, “stone cold dead.”

Clearly, that’s not what our friend and her mother believed.