For a lot of people, last week was all pope, all the time. An abundance of TV coverage, live Twitter feeds, commentaries, criticisms, and analyses was almost too much to absorb. The pomp, ceremony, parades and processions were worthy of British pageantry.
Aside from the glaring absence of women at some of the functions, despite the civic and ecclesiastical politics and posturing probably hidden in the background, what’s the take-away message for individuals, the church, and the country? When it’s back to business and life as usual, what will we remember?
Consider this: Anthony Gittens, CSSp, has often and sagely remarked that God’s mission has a church. The United States Catholic church is generally healthy and vibrant and is a servant to God’s mission of love, inclusivity, justice, and peace that Jesus teaches us. We saw ourselves at our best during the papal visit; we were proud to be Catholic, awed by the humility and humanity of Francis, and eager to agree with his message.
Consider this: Francis called us to personal, national, hierarchical, and ecclesial conversion and transformation. That puts pride in being Catholic and satisfaction in being a United States citizen in perspective.
We are called and challenged to change our hearts, change our lives, live simply, reach out to others, and care for our common home, this beautiful planet Earth. We’re in for the long haul, not just a parade.
Conversion and transformation are life-long processes. At the Vesper service in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the Pope addressed these words to women religious: “To see and evaluate things from God’s perspective calls for constant conversion.”
This message is equally a challenge to all God’s people as together we journey on our mission to carry out God’s mission.