We have a new pope. He is humble and smart, generous, and loving. May his example inspire us all. How is the papacy relevant to me? a young person asked me yesterday. He is the hierarchy in Rome. I live my life here in the modern United States. My response is below:
At first glance, you may think that no, the election of a pope far away in another continent does not affect your daily life. You are still Catholic. You go to Mass each Sunday. You’re trying to live a good life and follow the tenets of the Church, swimming against a culture of death, and often a mockery of your beliefs. Day to day, nothing seems to change with the election of a new official in the Church. It might seem as though the new pope’s election doesn’t make much difference in your personal life. However, upon careful consideration, you will see that the papacy really does matter and affect you. The pope’s election DOES make a difference in yours and my personal lives. How?
FIRST, the election of Pope Francis has caused people everywhere- of every faith and denomination, to stop and consider what the Catholic Faith is all about.
People who never gave the Catholic Faith a second thought before, look and listen, if only out of curiosity, to find out what being Catholic really means.
No one could watch the election on TV with the camera’s poised in St. Peter’s Square, without being blown away by the regality, the formality, the beauty and the ancient traditions demonstrated as the Swiss guards in all their regalia made their way up to the front of where our new Pope Francis would emerge. News commentators were explaining why this or that was done… the truth is, people asked why because they truly cared. They wanted to know more. The election of the pope will affect YOU because people now are curious about your religion. YOU will be asked questions about your Faith. And this is an opportunity in your own way, in your own style to evangelize to others- to answer questions about the Faith and why it is important to you. You may even delve deeper into your Faith, ponder and investigate in order to answer these questions. This pope’s election in another time zone, another continent will impact your life here.
SECOND, the election of the pope brings Catholics together. His election is relevant because eternal Truths are relevant.
Looking out on St. Peter’s Square, we saw young people, families, religious, older people, all coming together in one Faith, to share the event of discovering together the new leader of the Catholic Church. The pope’s election binds us together. With the election of a new pope we are reminded of Jesus who said He will be with us even until the end of the age (Matthew 28:20). “I will not leave you orphans.” (John 14:18) The Truths of Jesus, first revealed in the Bible, will be preserved through the Church. Every one of us is called to be a living manifestation of that Truth. Whether we reside in a brownstone apartment building or high rise in the city, or in a simple home tucked away in a sleepy town, whether we are a recent college graduate starting off a career, or a mother raising a brood of children in the Midwest, we must live the tenets of the Faith and Gospel, in our own positions and states in life. The papacy is relevant because Jesus entrusted the Church to Peter, the first pope, and with the election of the next pope we are reassured that Jesus is present here and now, and that His Truths in this difficult world are eternal. The papacy is relevant because God’s Truths are relevant. Always. Even in 2013, in a global, technology saturated, modern, complex world…
Third, we have in our new pope a leader, a compass.
It is not any pope’s job or even within his ability to change the tenets of Faith, but our new pope can and will explain and focus on and highlight aspects of it. The papacy is relevant to you and me because the new pope gives us courage to live the Faith, ancient in origin, in the midst of a contemporary life. Marriage is to be between one man and one woman for the entire lifetime of the two. With a national divorce rate of around 50%, and not much difference within those who self identify as Catholics, our nation needs to be reminded of the truth of the sanctity and solemnity, sacredness, beauty and joy of authentic marriage. A pope, guardian of the Faith, reminds us of that.
In a world where children are discarded like garbage in bins, ripped from their mothers’ wombs (1.2 million abortions in 2008) , the Catholic Church says, No, every life from conception to natural death is precious and valuable.
This gives us courage to act in Faith and Love when we are met with a real face, the face of a woman facing a crisis pregnancy alone and who feels there is no place to turn.
The Catholic Faith is living, growing and alive! That’s hard to see sometimes when we are in our little corners, or living it alone, with lukewarm Catholics or agnostics or even atheists all around us. A good leader will stand up against the evils of secularism and disregard for marriage and life, and fortify us so that we can stand up in Faith too. A good leader can inspire us to bring vibrancy to our own Faith.
It is important to live our faith in a tangible way. The papacy is very relevant to us because Truth and the preservation of it in an increasingly selfish and secular world, is never outdated.