The Francis effect PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 23 January 2015 11:40



Filipinos love a fiesta and the visit of Pope Francis was one big fiesta. But just like the usual fiesta honoring a barrio’s patron saint, the visit of the Pope was not only a time to rejoice but also a time to  give thanks for God’s many blessings even in the face of much sufferings,  to be reminded to strive even more strongly to be better Catholics.

The celebratory atmosphere generated by the  Papal visit was such a strong contrast to the atmosphere in Europe and Africa in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo incident in France. I was thus  strongly reminded of this quote which I came across very recently:

“For me, religion—no matter which one—is ultimately about people wanting to live humble, moral lives that create a harmonious community and promote tolerance and friendship with those outside the religious community. Any religious rules should be in service of this goal.” Don’t flip now but the comment was made by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar the famous NBA  player of two  generations back who has become an author and filmmaker. He is a follower of Islam and he ends the comment with “The Islam I learned and practice does just that.”

What does the Catholic faith which a majority of Filipinos practice make us do, aside  from honoring the Sto. Niño or the Nuestra. Señora del Pilar or  San Isidro on their designated feast days? We often refer to our country as “the only Catholic country in Asia” even as we admit that the Philippines is one that ranks very high  in the corruption index of Transparency International.

We are happy that Pope Francis was kept safe even in the midst of the enthusiastic millions who came to  see him in the obviously well organized events of the visit. I would not have wanted to be in the committee responsible for security and logistics.

Beyond giving us the occasion to  display our  affection for this  Pope who is so easy to admire and love, what should we carry away from this visit? From the Pope’s statements and what was reported in both the print and the visual media I picked these up:

·      Continue to dream

·      Let God surprise you

·      Learn to weep for tears cleanse our eyes and make us see more clearly

·       Filipinos are called to be missionaries

·      Speak from the silence of one’s heart

·      Pope Francis’ style of humility and simplicity

The whole 4-day visit  also made me proud about being a Filipino. I watched the events unfold in the comfort of my home and so I admired the more  those who braved rain and other discomforts to be with the Pope. And kudos to the  whole organizing committee for the Pope’s visit. God bless us all!