Growing In Our Faith Understanding
The Vatican is being written and talked about so much these days that it’s marking a new moment in the history of the Catholic Church throughout the world. One can hardly listen to NPR or watch the evening news on a major network or get on the Internet without hearing/reading something about Pope Francis. It’s quite wonderful and remarkable, and it’s definitely a new moment. Still, ten months after his election to the papacy, people will ask— because I’m Catholic (and a Religious woman)—‘What do you think of the new pope? Or how do you like Pope Francis’? And I’m finding it a pleasant experience, to answer someone non-judgmental or uncritical of the Church. I find myself doing more listening and less talking—letting the questioner give her/his point of view first. Last Easter, just weeks after Pope Francis accepted his new role in Rome, I noticed a dramatic rise in attendance at our Sunday morning service! The small Mission church holds only a hundred people when packed, and we had to add chairs for the first time in some years. There were clearly people in attendance who had not been to church in a while, but who seemed glad to join in the ritual and song! It was Easter for them in new & surprising ways. One man wanted to get his young daughters enrolled in religion classes, and others just wanted to chat over the coffee and cake afterwards. That renewed interest continues in myriad ways as we continue our faith journeys together. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what has changed about our Catholic Faith, our Church, our hopes, but the change cannot be denied. This time, for most folks, the change represents Good News – a positive outlook, a hopeful vision for the future, signs of compassion and charity, interest in and concern for the whole of humankind. As best I can observe, it seems that we are experiencing the humanity of the new leader of the Catholic Church throughout the world, and this is what is keeping our attention in 2014!