Guest Blogger Anne Gargani Krieger on Pope Francis

My sister-in-law, Anne Gargani Krieger, attended the World Meeting of Families Sep 26-27  in Philadelphia and saw Pope Francis.  I asked her to write a guest blog post about her experience. This is great, inspirational reading; I hope you enjoy my first guest blogger.  And, can I just say that the Pope quote at the end of her blog is very similar to what Augustine said about the line between good and evil being drawn right through the middle of the human heart.  And I swear Anne & I did NOT plan that.Anne and Tracy in Philly  Here’s Anne’s post.

The Pope and My Glasses

I have gone through most of my life witnessing the happenings in the world around me and silently agreeing with the old saying, “this world is going to hell in a handbasket”.  I certainly have not seen the world through rose-colored glasses, but with glasses that were dark-tinted most of the time.

I was fortunate to be able to spend the weekend of September 26-27 in Philadelphia, PA, attending the World Meeting of Families.  The highlight of this gathering was the attendance of Pope Francis.  On Saturday, Pope Francis spoke at Independence Hall, to millions of people in attendance and watching on television.  My friend and I waited over four hours to catch a glimpse of him going by in his vehicle.  On Sunday, Pope Francis celebrated Mass, again with millions watching and hanging on to his every word.  We watched it on a Jumbotron in downtown Philadelphia, away from the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s “Rocky steps” where the Mass was being held, yet we were still surrounded by thousands of people.

When I first saw this bus trip advertised in my church’s weekly bulletin, I knew I had to go – in a sense, I felt like I was being pulled to go.  I went into this trip expecting good things to happen, like seeing our Pope, but also expecting bad things to happen — bad things like violence, shoving, swearing, vandalism, and just general chaos and human indignities.  I mean, you HAVE to expect those kinds of things when you get that many people in one place, all passionate about the same thing….right?

Instead, what I experienced was a unification of people from all walks of life, all colors, all languages, all levels of wealth, all ages, all sexual orientations — unification in a spirit of faith, hope, love, and feeling of “we are all in this together”.  We came together as one group, one brotherhood, one sisterhood, no – one humanhood, in the city of brotherly love.  We all knew the Mass, the songs, the prayers — even if we did not all say the same words.  The highlight of the weekend for me was the sign-of-peace during Mass.  I not only shook hands with people that did not speak my language, but I looked into their eyes and we embraced.   I will forever carry with me the feeling I had in those few moment.

I witnessed no violence, no fighting, no chaos — even in such a huge crowd.  I came home from the weekend feeling alive, inspired by Pope Francis’ words about the family, and very much blessed.

And then, less than a week after the Pope left America, our country experienced yet another tragic gun massacre of innocent people at the Umpqua Community College in Oregon.  The gunman was specifically targeting Christians in his death mission. My heart broke for the family and friends of those murdered.  Yet, this time, my mental reaction was different.  I knew this situation wasn’t the norm.  That the good people in the world will always outnumber the bad people; that love will always conquer evil.  That we all sin, but we sin in different degrees, and that one person’s or group’s horrific actions cannot reflect upon an entire humanity.

As Pope Francis said at the joint meeting of Congress in Washington, D.C. recently:  “There is another temptation which we must especially guard against: the simplistic reductionism which sees only good or evil; or, if you will, the righteous and sinners.”

I need to work on guarding that temptation for sure, and I will be doing it in glasses that are now a tint rosier, thanks to Pope Francis’ visit to America.

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