Pope Francis has returned to Rome after a hectic papal visit to the United States, where he was greeted by large and enthusiastic crowds.
Traveling to the east coast was not possible for me, but I followed his trip carefully throughout the past week.
And so today I thought I might pause, and focus on the messages I gleaned, not only from his sermons, but from his unscripted moments of love and honesty.
And so here are my thoughts on Pope Francis' message of love ....
Table of Contents
A Plain Spoken Man
Journalists and political pundits have been parsing that pope’s utterances for their impact, trying to create controversy when he delivered difficult messages about human worth.
I applaud the Pope for his courage in sharing his thoughts on immigration, economic inequality and environmental protection. His pointed messages are evocative, and some have chosen to turn them into fighting words.
But for me, his message was far simpler. He told me to dream big, to love, and to care for my fellow man, just as Jesus asked us to do.
Don't Forget To Dream
Hailed as a liberator for brokering the normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba, Pope Francis may have been expected by some to deliver a caustic message to the Cuban regime.
But Francis is a Pope of the People, and he is far more astute than many politicians. He chose to deliver a message of hope, and of belief in dreams.
No partisan ideologies for Pope Francis, but instead a true emphasis on Jesus' message of love and caring.
I believe his words to the young people of Cuba apply to each and every one of us throughout the world....
“Dream that you can make the world different.
Dream that you can make it better.
Don’t forget to dream.”
Pope Francis believes the world can be different, and he leads the way towards change by giving us his very best, and by showing us his ever-so-human self.
I love how he urged the people of Cuba not to forget to tell their dreams to each other, but to speak out about their aspirations, and to remain united.
The Importance Of Family
Pope Francis stressed the importance of love within all families of the world. And he shared his sense of humor when he said -
"I won't speak about mother-in-laws."
Francis told us that much like happiness, "holiness is always tied to little gestures."
And it is within our families that we can practice these little gestures, put kindness into practice and teach our children to love each other.
"These little gestures are those we learn at home, in the family; they get lost amid all the other things we do, yet they do make each day different. They are the quiet things done by mothers and grandmothers, by fathers and grandfathers, by children. They are little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion."
And in true Pope Francis style he put his words into action, by breaking out of his carefully choreographed schedule to show us these little gestures of love.
The People's Pope
Francis is a Pope of the People. His unscripted moments, his humor and folksy wisdom, make him one of us.
I couldn't help but smile, when I saw Pope Francis get out of his Fiat, to approach a child confined to a wheelchair, lean over the barricade, and bless him.
Through these simple acts of kindness, he demonstrates his belief that ...
"In God’s merciful plan, love and peace triumph over all.”
~ Pope Francis
He met his baby match in Philadelphia, his sense of humor and joy shining through as he laughed and blessed a little baby dressed in papal garb.
Francis left us with many off-the-cuff moments to remember him by, and in all his interactions with the faithful, his love and respect for his fellow man came shining through.
God Bless America
Pope Francis' last officials words for America were:
“May God bless you all - God bless America.”
And so, I pray that Pope Francis has returned to Rome, filled with hope and dreams for a better future, strengthened and encouraged by the warmth and kindness of the American people.
And here's hoping all the speculation about a potential papal visit to Ireland in 2018 will come true.
Slán agus beannacht,
(Goodbye and blessings)
Mairéad -Irish American Mom
Pronunciation - slawn ah-gus ban-ock-th
Mairéad - rhymes with parade
Here are some more ramblings you might enjoy...
Irish Blessings and Sayings About Faith
The Breastplate of Saint Patrick
Irishnannie (Susie O. Towne)
What a lovely overview of this amazing and humble man. Thank you, Mairead!
I read that Archbishop Charles John Brown (Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Ireland) thinks a papal visit to Ireland is indeed possible. What a spectacular blessing that would be!
It seems that Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, spent some time in Ireland, in his younger years, studying English! I read about that in a write-up of an interview that the Irish Independent had with Archbishop Brown. It seems, too, that the Marian devotion of the Irish people is a real connection for Pope Francis because of his own great love for Our Blessed Mother Mary.
God bless you, Mairead, and all your readers!
Irish American Mom
Hi Susie - Devotion to Our Blessed Mother Mary was very strong in Ireland when I was a little girl. I pray it continues to this very day. It's lovely to hear that Pope Francis shares that Marian devotion. I watched a program from Ireland about the pope's time in Dublin. A priest from the Jesuit college where he studied, admitted that he could not remember Francis, even though he taught him. Perhaps that is testament to the fact that Pope Francis is a man of the people. He never stands out from the crowd, but he is extraordinary because of his appreciation of the ordinary.
Thanks so much for stopping by, and blessings to you too.
Thank you for your thoughts & gratitude for Papa Francisco! On Thursday I was lucky enough to see him on the Capitol Lawn. A nice DC Police Officer saw I was alone carrying a "Actonclimate" poster @ gave me a ticket!! I felt I won the Golden Ticket! In 2014 I went to Rome, tried to look for him in his Ford Escort, missed his Wednesday Mass by one day to no Avail. Was so tired flying all the way from Seattle to Rome via Amsterdam. Had an awesome day @ Vatican City waking up @ 5am. There's nothing like being @ St Peters Basilica 7am only Nuns & Cardinals walking around. Doves welcomed me as well ?
Seeing the Pope perhaps a future Saint(no doubt) was all & more I hoped to be. His message of protecting our Children,Family & The Earth was Paramount. After all, it starts with our Children. They are our future & future Leaders.
He seems like such a Humble Man like my Dad was. Too much money breeds Gluttony, Greed & less Gratitude. Although I don't agree with everything about the Catholic Church Doctrine, who does in everyone's particular Religion?
All in all I feel I definately had The Luck of the Irish getting that Ticket!:-)
Top O Day to you Mairead my fellow Irish Sister. Blessings, Patty 🙂
Irish American Mom
Hi Patty - I'm so happy to hear of your good fortune and how that wonderful police officer offered you a ticket. How wonderful to witness his message first hand. I remember when Pope John Paul II visited Ireland in 1979. Over one million people, including my family, attended mass in the Phoenix Park in Dublin - the experience of a lifetime.
I visited Rome once, and the size of St. Peter's just blew me away. You were lucky to experience it so early before tourists thronged the square. I did not feel a sense of holiness there, nor the presence of the Holy Spirit, which I expected. It was only in some of the small unassuming churches I dashed into, that I felt a true sense of peace. Rome was a wonderful city to visit.
Thanks so much for checking out my ramblings about Pope Francis.
The Pope may have given a message that could be seen as one of hope and equality but more than likely his message will be used by haters of personal freedom. I do not wish to to be a wet blanket, but when I hear things like economic equality I hear taking from one group to redistribute to another. It is very easy to take from people but when it isn't done voluntarily I believe it is called stealing which I thought we shall not do. The Socialist/communist plague has imprisoned, murdered and caused more pain to the children of God than any other force in the name of economic equality. I know it sounds so good "lets make all economically equal" but in the end it must be done by force, and that leads to genocide, like Mao, Stalin, Castro, Che, Think of the thousands that escaped communist Romania, Hungary, Croatia, China, Russia, Poland, to make their way to freedom where a country is ruled by a Constitution and a bill of rights. The capitalist system has saved more people from the yoke of poverty than any system known to man. I wish the pope would have celebrated that we are all children of God each a special individual. Perhaps he could have used our heritage of Life Liberty and the pursuit of happiness to influence our president to support Life. The Pope seems like a very good man, I believe he truly cares for the down trodden, I wish he would speak for those that cannot speak like Mother Teresea did.
Irish American Mom
Hi Brian - Well it seems the Pope's call for "economic equality" hit a raw nerve with you. I don't believe he is espousing a communistic society, because as you say, we know communism does not work. You may be shocked, but I too believe capitalism is the most effective system for countries to thrive economically.
However, I do believe that those who work should earn a living wage, not just a minimum wage. When I worked in nursing homes in Florida I met many who worked very long hours for minimal pay. Many had families, but needed to work two or three jobs, sometimes 7 days a week just to pay their bills. And those who lost out the most were their children.
I think success in a capitalistic society brings responsibility. Many make decisions based on profit only, like the company that has increased the price of a drug from $13.50 to $750 per pill, just because they can. I believe the pope is highlighting our responsibilities to each other, and urging business people to make decisions that are not based upon greed alone.
Thanks as always for your input, and for sharing your views on the Pope's message.
All the best,
It's funny how the haters of religion all love this Pope, the media, the "right to choose" crowd, the anti marriage crowd. These people are the first to call someone a right wing extremist if they believe in God or want to raise their family in a responsible way. I think it is naive to believe these people have changed their views that God exists or that the Pope isn't anything more than a nice man in a nice suit. While I must deal with unisex bathrooms in schools, cross gendered boys on the girls lacrosse team, and having an opinion as long as I keep it to myself. Not to mention little things like arming Iran, importing ISIS, and the inevitable confiscation of capital. But that is for a different discussion. I'm sorry for my tone. Strike a nerve indeed, One of my main rules for enjoying a trip to Ireland is to avoid politics, and as your website is a nice mental trip to Ireland I should follow my own rules. But being the Capitalism Genie has already escaped, I know of few poor men who hired others and lifted them out of poverty, there are plenty of poor men who have lifted themselves out of poverty and then helped others. In the end, be them Godless scrooges or not, they cannot take it with them and most end up doing quite a bit of good with their accumulated wealth, just see who paid for your hospitals, art museums etc.
I hope Pope Francis has a plan that spreads the word and that people come together, I truly do, I will do my best to believe so. I know I will be alone in voicing my fears, I guess I still remember Pope John Paul and his brave stances, I'll leave you be,
Irish American Mom
Thankfully Brian that Capitalism Genie will never go back into his bottle. And here's hoping that the charitable ways of both America and Ireland will continue for years to come (both countries are amongst the most generous in the world). We live in an evolving world, and like you, I pray that people can come together to promote peace and prosperity for all.
Take care, and have a lovely weekend.
Love how you summed up what you learned from the Pope, Mairead -- dream big, love, and care for our fellow man. Good lessons for us all indeed!
Irish American Mom
"Don't forget to dream." - I just love that message from the Pope. I think he is a Pope who will bring about change in an unassuming way, all the while teaching us to care for our fellow man. Thanks so much for stopping by.
All the best,
Thanks for sharing the highlights of Pope Francis's American visit and your wonderful tribute to a truly remarkable human being. The senator Garwood B. Jones in the classic novel "Raintree County" called himself "A Man of the People." I consider Pope Francis "a Pope of the people." What impresses me most about Francis is the humanity of the man, his reaching out to people of all ages, backgrounds, the acceptance--and celebration--of their humanity no matter what their failings and foibles.
I once read an interview with a nun who left the Church. Her reason for leaving, she explained, was that the Catholic Church, like so many other established religions was an "exclusive" institution; it tended to "exclude" rather than welcome, seemed cold and intolerant; in short, it stressed doctrine at the expense of humanity. Pope Francis exudes the very things the ex-nun thought the Church should be: tolerant, empathetic and compassionate, all embracing, not cold and distant. Those of us who have had experience directing plays would say the Pope has "stage presence," an infectious warmth that welcomes and is all embracing. I hope you get your wish, IAM, that Francis does visit Ireland, and that you will be there when he does.
By the way, I read that Pope Francis had a brief, private visit with a fellow Kentuckian? TMJ
Irish American Mom
Hi TM - Pope Francis is definitely "a Pope of the people". I just loved how he laughed heartily when he saw baby Quinn dressed up in her papal outfit. He was the one who directed the security man over to the crowd to bring the baby back to him to be blessed. What a memorable occasion for that family.
I like your summation of Pope Francis, and emphasize how he represents a compassionate church many Catholics do not recognize from years gone by.
I truly hope he does visit Ireland. There probably won't be as many Catholics attending events as when Pope John Paul II visited in 1979. Many Irish people are turning away from formal religion. However, I'll be there if I can, and I believe many other devout Irish people who will come out to greet him.
All the best,