Guest post by Susan Hines-Brigger….
When Pope Francis comes to America this month, he’s going to be speaking in some pretty significant venues, such as the White House, Congress, and the UN. I suspect—and hope—that in those talks he will be issuing some challenges for all of us.
As a Catholic and a mom, I welcome that. You see, my kids love Pope Francis. Perhaps it’s his welcoming and nonjudgmental nature. It could be that he talks about everyday things in a way that they can understand. Or, maybe it’s just his love of selfies. Whatever the reason is, they love him. And I love that.
Let’s face it. Being a kid these days can be rough—bullying, self-esteem issues, the list of challenges goes on and on. So, seeing an example of someone they admire, raising his voice to address something that may make people uncomfortable is exactly the example I want them to see. I also embrace the manner in which the Holy Father goes about speaking on these tough issues that best gets his message across.
There is no finger pointing, no yelling, no name calling. There is simply a holy man following in the footsteps of Christ, and preaching on behalf of the common good. That’s something I think we can all get behind.After the pope’s visit, I suspect his message will be one that I’ll be able to carry on as a parent. As many know, getting kids excited about their faith can be a challenge—especially when some of those things can prove challenging and countercultural to their everyday lives. And, let’s be honest. If Mom or Dad says something, it’s going to get some pushback. That’s where Pope Francis helps out. I have found that when he speaks about something, my kids seem to listen—and that’s a really good thing.
Conversations in our household now often stem from something the pope has said, rather than at the urging of me or my husband. Topics that I would have avoided in the past for fear of confrontation, are now a bit more accessible and less scary. Of course I’m not saying it’s all smooth sailing. There are still the factors of age, friends, and surrounding environment, to contend with. But even those barriers seem a bit less insurmountable.
So, during this visit, my family will be watching not only for inspiration, but also for challenges.
After he leaves our country, I look forward to continuing that discussion not only with myself, but also with my family and kids. For that, I thank you, Pope Francis.
SUSAN HINES-BRIGGER is managing editor of St. Anthony Messenger, for which she writes the “Catholic Mom Speaks” column. She is also the author of A Catholic Family Advent. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio, with her husband and four children.