Family Faith by Selina Venier
THERE’S much to love about Pope Francis.
Not that there wasn’t much to love about the pontiffs before him, but it seems as though Our Holy Father is reaching those who may not have previously even noticed the Church and the supreme gift and potential impact of the papacy.
“Makes me want to go back to Mass,” wrote one commentator after watching Pope Francis’ recent acceptance of a child beside him as he gave an address.
The way he gently touched the child’s head in love spoke volumes. So did the way the child grabbed at his leg, refusing the constant bribes to come away. It made world headlines and had many talking.
Pope Francis has made many comments that also have resonated.
Perhaps it’s the humble and gentle way he comes across that again speaks volumes, like others before him.
He is our living example of Jesus Christ so why would he be any different?
Why are some surprised?
Our family often watch the Italian news and Masses from Rome and constantly witness his gentleness, humility, compassion and great devotion to Mother Mary.
Even though he isn’t one and he’s never married, Pope Francis particularly speaks volumes to me as a parent. That’s hard for non-church-going people to understand.
“Why do you hang onto every word he says?” I was asked recently, “He’s not a father or a husband.”
“Neither was Jesus,” I replied defensively, “(and) look at the wisdom he shared in the Gospels. It was and is relevant for all people.”
Speaking of hanging “on every word”, Pope Francis raised a thought recently that’s “stuck”. He asked and encouraged parents to “waste time” with their children.
If you missed what he said it went like this: “When I hear the confession of a young married man or woman, and they refer to their son or daughter, I ask, ‘How many children do you have?’ and they tell me. Maybe they’re expecting another question after that, but I always ask, ‘And tell me, do you play with your children? Do you waste time with your children?’
“The free gift of a parent’s time is so important,” Pope Francis said.
“Do you waste time?” had me wondering and smiling.
I examined my day.
Would reading to Master Five Months qualify as “wasting time”? After all, he only really wants to eat the book.
Would chatting with Miss Ten, who now talks more than listens and jumps from subject to subject with dizzying regularity, be “time wasted”?
Would reinforcing the same maths principles to Miss Twelve over and over without any obvious result again be a “waste”?
The great thing about Pope Francis’ comment of course was that no time with our children is wasted, especially if we are free from other distractions.
And that’s precisely “the free gift” I understood he was referring to.
Of course Master Five Months is not only wanting to salivate over the corners of the book but he’s absorbing the colours and sounds. He’s begun wanting to touch and turn the pages himself and has found his babbling voice.
Miss Ten hugs me so tightly after we “chat” without interruption or distraction, it’s like the time together is appreciated from the core of her being.
Miss Twelve surprises me every so often and reinforces what I’ve been teaching her as if she’s understood it well before I realised.
So of course, time spent without distraction with my children might be interpreted as “wasted” to some but it certainly isn’t to me.
And I’m so pleased Pope Francis, in his fatherly wisdom, agrees.
Like the gift of faith, it’s meant to be unconditional and freely given. And there’s much to love about that too.