I will never forget the day that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was elected Pope: March 13, 2013. I was sitting in front of the TV just waiting like so many other Catholics around the world. I had watched all of the news broadcasts and read articles with speculations about who would be the next Pope. When the announcement was made, I admit, I had never heard of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio. But then, neither had so many others. Yet, we would all soon learn why he was elected.
As a 50+ Catholic mom of two teens, I have been homeschooling for years, and my faith is a gem to my life. Without it, I don’t know what my life would be like. In 1999, at the age of 34, I experienced a miraculous healing from a very serious heart condition. I had received the Sacrament of the Sick at that time, and very soon after, I received word from my cardiologist that my enlarged heart was healing, and that my chance of full recovery was extremely high. Not a day goes by that I don’t thank the Lord that I’m still here and able to live for him and for others. Even though I have experienced many ups and downs since that time in 1999, I can truly say that God has kept me on a path with him. The journey has not been easy, but God’s grace in receiving our Lord in the Eucharist in daily and Sunday Mass has helped me immensely; truly a blessing to me.
So what does my healing have to do with Pope Francis?
On that historic day, when Francis stepped forward to give his blessing to the world and he proclaimed his name as “Francis” after St. Francis of Assisi, I cried. Francis of Assisi is my favorite saint for many reasons, mostly because his way of bringing Christ to others was gentle and loving, very non-forceful, and his life is a true model after the Lord. I think a person’s smile and kindness says a lot about who they are and their openness to others, too. And I immediately noticed that quality in Pope Francis.
My Answered Prayer
Since his election, Pope Francis has brought a great deal of healing to my life. It’s hard to articulate exactly why. I think all of us have had hurts in life that can harden our hearts and make us doubt that God really loves us. I’m sure many factors came into play during that particular time in my life, and maybe that’s a story for another day. But I can say that I have felt his prayers for the entire Church and the world in my heart and soul. Since the time of his election, I have kept an eye on the messages he offers to all of God’s people as often as I can. The greatest message that I have witnessed from him is his prayerfulness and his humility. What would we all do without the power of prayer in our lives? I thank our Pope for being a great witness to the power of prayer. Even the images of our Pope praying is a display of humility and of love. The Pope is also an example to me in my own life to pray more and to love more.
I had been praying for years that God could use me in some way to help to instill in others a sense of God working in their lives. So, when I was presented with the opportunity to write for Catholic Stand, I felt God answer a prayer and open a door for me. It truly is a blessing for me to hopefully lead people to contemplate the great gift of The Catholic Church and the great gift of Jesus Christ. Yes! The great gift of Christ, in the Eucharist. Christ and the Holy Spirit. Christ and the Church. So many gifts just waiting for the world. And I recognize Pope Francis and his prayerfulness for the Church as a true gift from the Lord.
So, as I write today, I think of that day when Francis stood on the balcony waving to the crowd with love proclaiming the open doors of the Catholic Church to the world. And since then it has been such a wonderful witness of love – his patience, his guidance and most of all his prayers.
Pray Always – In All Ways
Recently, I asked a few friends to help me present examples of the power of prayer by sharing instances in their own lives where they saw the power of God working through prayer.
My friend David told me a story of how he met a stranger one day in need of a ride, because she had missed the bus and needed to get to work on time. On a whim, he drove the stranger to her next bus connection. It was an unexpected favor from God, but David still remembers the story and the woman in need to this day. He had brought her some relief, and he knew through his prayer to God and the Holy Spirit that it was the right thing to do. Although seemingly a small gesture, David’s assistance was quite a big gift for this woman who needed help that day.
Another friend, Barney, witnessed a very young girl get hit by a car. He ran to the scene and gently prayed over the girl even blessing her forehead with three signs of the cross. As he walked away from the accident, he witnessed her go from being unconscious to regaining consciousness.
My friend Adrianne has witnessed the pain of her friends who have a son with Down Syndrome and a rare form of cancer. She has observed the struggle but also the faith of this dear family, and the care and sacrifice they have for this awesome boy who continues on his journey on earth with courage. The prayers are what has gotten the family through to this point, and continues to help them on their journey each day.
Praying like Francis inspires people like David, Barney, Adrianne and me to pray fervently, allowing God to do the rest. Life has a way of presenting us with situations that are definitely out of our control, but those experiences help us to grow and help us to love more and sacrifice more for each other. When we put our trust in God and in the power of prayer, even one small prayer can make a big difference in someone’s life, even our own. God will lead the way, with the guidance of our prayerful Pope and the guidance of Christ himself. We only need to trust.