Pope Francis will be in our country from September 22 to September 27.
You can be sure that the cities, churches and people of Washington, New York and Philadelphia are preparing. So is the Pope with his 18 talks, his remarkable energy, love of God, all the earth and humanity. Spin doctors, commentators, authors, groups with their laudable causes or not, have already put out their views, analyses, desires, plans for these days of grace, wonder, amazement, discouragement, disagreement and distress. We may already be tired of all the preliminaries. Weary, we may miss the event itself. How do we make sure it’s fresh to us?
Since most of us will not see him up close and personal, here’s my suggestion to make the most of the Pope’s visit. Shut out the ambient noise and instead, concentrate on Pope Francis. Watch him, pray with him, listen to him and draw out your own insights and conclusions. Writing in a recent issue of the National Catholic Reporter, Thomas Reese, S.J. offers checkpoints to do this well. He says we ought to look at five things in the visit of Pope Francis:
Francis the man, but it’s not about himself
Francis the prophet, who speaks truth to power
Francis the peacemaker, speaking to all nations, all creeds
Francis the pastor, visiting, touching, speaking, listening
Francis on message. God’s message: Love one another
See how these qualities emerge in the very busy days ahead. Think for yourself. Talk to others about what you see and what you hear. Eventually you will read and absorb the many facets of this trip. Other voices will help nuance what you think and believe about him and his message, but begin with opening your own heart and mind.
~Sister Joan Sobala