Francis Effect: “I don’t want to go back to the way it was before Pope Francis visited America”

From the blog of Maria Shriver:

Pope Francis has had a dramatic impact on my life this past week. It’s almost hard to put into words.

I got into journalism long ago because I wanted to tell stories that inspired people. Stories that moved people. I’ve covered a lot of big events in my career, interviewed a lot of people, but covering Pope Francis’ visit to America has got to be the highlight.

No, I didn’t get to interview him. I didn’t even get to meet him, but it didn’t actually matter because his words met my heart and ignited my spirit. I felt them deep in my soul. Every sermon, every speech moved me further, moved me deeper. Some I’ve read and reread 10 times. His presence and his words at the 9/11 memorial brought me to tears.

The NBC studio in which I sat was silent. Everyone was transfixed as he spoke about pain, the power of love and remembrance. I listened to the prayer of St. Francis and the Beatitudes. I watched as leaders of so many different faiths stood up beside him and spoke their truths. And I reflected about how I was living my own life and I thought about all the people in it and I thought about their lives.

When the Pope spoke to the Congress about the Golden Rule I thought about that message and how I was living it. When he urged us to all go out and be of service like Mary had been, I took an internal inventory. In fact, this whole week made me take a internal inventory of everything in my life.

It made me reassess power, success, joy, money. I thought about the culture of care and the culture of waste. I thought deeply about those on the margins that this Pope urges us to reach out to.

He pushes us to open our eyes and our hearts to our neighbors that live so close, yet also so far away. He urged us to enable real men and real women to escape from extreme poverty. He said we must allow them to be dignified agents of their own destiny.

“Dignified agents of ones destiny.”

I love that. Each of us have the ability to be dignified agents of our own destiny…

…I hope that we don’t go back to talking to each other in belittling ways. I hope we make this visit matter. I hope we let it transform us for the better. I don’t want to go back to the way it was before Pope Francis came to America. I know I can’t go back. I know I’m going forward differently because of him.

Read it all.

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