I had the opportunity to watch most of the daily viewing of the Pope's trip to the United States and through TV and social media experienced the many spiritual moments that have been clearly grace filled. Like most viewers I saw the thunderous crowds at every stop that seemed to sense that even with a split second glance from a motorcade they were in the presence of a holy man.
Although I never left my chair, I felt I was more than a passive viewer. I felt that the Holy Spirit touched me and took me through the gamut of spiritual and emotional experiences and memories of these past few days...
...The delight of seeing the Pope riding in a Fiat surrounded by those large security SUV.
...The honor of seeing the Pope at the White House, remembering that not so long ago the gear of a Catholic presence in the presidency scared a largely Protestant nation.
...The amazement of a Pope addressing Congress saying "God bless America," remembering that once the Vatican considered America a cauldron of heresy.
...The call to model the troublemakers and questioners of our faith (Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton) in our efforts to bring our faith to American society.
...The goodness of lunch with the homeless forsaking the powerful of Congress.
...The joy in Pope Francis' eyes as he picked up children and blessed people with physical challenges.
...The remembrance of pain and our frequent inhumanity at the 9/11 Memorial.
...The courage to join in prayer with other religious traditions in an effort to heal.
...The indictment of world leaders for failing to live up to the ideals set forth in the United Nations Charter.
...The innocence of school children who had no hesitation in showing the Pope how to do it the right way when he had trouble working a smartboard.
...The acknowledgment and recognition of women religious.
...The reminder that Jesus "still walks in our streets" to a crowd of 25,000.
...The call to religious freedom.
...The electric exhortation of the joy and challenges of family life as a mirror of Church.
...The reaching out to victims of sexual abuse.
...The embodiment of the Corporal Works of Mercy by visiting prisoners.
All of these events will eventually be analyzed, criticized, and dissected by various groups. You can almost hear the words they'll use -- Francis should have done more with abuse victims, he should have used the name Jesus more, he only mentioned abortion directly once, he should have not canonized Junipero Serra, too much Latin, not enough Latin, etc.
In his last words to the people of the United States, Pope Francis stated he leaves "with a heart full of gratitude and hope." On the day after my "retreat" ends, I can say he leaves my heart in the same condition.
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