There is no doubt about it — Pope Francis, who had even non-Catholic and atheist well-wishers during his visit to the Philippines, has truly been a source of inspiration, encouragement and hope not just for Filipinos, but for millions of people worldwide, too.
Locally, many of us found ourselves taking to the streets, hoping to catch a glimpse of the Pope en route to his different appointments and activities.
Many more waited patiently for hours to hear him speak in person at various locations like the Manila Cathedral, the Mall of Asia Arena, Tacloban Airport, Palo Cathedral, University of Sto Tomas, and, of course, Luneta Park.
Others were content to follow the live telecast of the Pope’s activities and messages on TV or other devices, noting his bright smile and laughing along with his audience whenever he’d crack a joke.
Indeed, the 78-year-old pontiff, who is agile even with only one lung has definitely given us words (and an example) to live by. Here are some of them:
“Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others. But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support.”
So if ever you’re feeling discouraged because you’re having a rough time as a family, take heart. Keep moving forward. What you are doing to build your family is important.
“It isn't possible to have a family without such dreams. When you lose this capacity to dream, you lose the capacity and energy to love."
3. Remember your spouses. In the same Meeting with Families, Pope Francis reminded the couples present to also cherish their spouses, and recall their time together as boyfriend and girlfriend:
“How many solutions are found to family problems if we take time to reflect, if we think of a husband or wife, and we dream about the good qualities they have. Don’t ever lose the memory of when you were boyfriend or girlfriend. That is very important.”
4. Raise your children well. The next time you feel like your efforts to parent your kids properly are “just a waste of time” or “useless,” remember these words of Pope Francis at the Meeting with Families:
“When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world.”
5. Respect life. At the Meeting with Families, the pope also reminded us of the importance of respecting life in all forms: “Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death.”
Every person — yes, even the “challenging” or “difficult” ones we may encounter in our families and elsewhere — deserves our respect. Let’s teach our kids the same, too.
7. Protect your family. In his homily at Luneta Park, Pope Francis reminded us again of “the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family.” (He also spoke of the need to protect our families at the Meeting with Families.)
“Sadly, in our day, the family all too often needs to be protected against insidious attacks and programs contrary to all that we hold true and sacred, all that is most beautiful and noble in our culture.”
No matter what your beliefs are, protecting your family against whatever can destroy it should be top priority.
“We are not alone. We also have many brothers who in this moment of catastrophe came to help. And we too, because of this, we feel more like brothers and sisters because we helped each other.”
9. Learn how to weep. The Pope, as quoted on CBCP News, said in his message to the youth gathered at the University of Sto. Tomas that “the expression of weeping is a concrete gesture of empathy with the pain of others and a sign of deeper involvement in issues that may somehow seem abstract and distant like homelessness, drug abuse and sexual abuse.”
He said this in response to 12-year-old Glyzelle Palomar’s heartfelt sharing about her life on the streets. Overcome with emotion and ending up in tears, Glyzelle was unable to finish her testimony.
As families, do we “teach” our children to “weep” and empathize with others?
10. Help other families. Beyond empathizing with others, we are encouraged to help them in concrete ways:
“…go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents.” (Pope Francis, at the Meeting with Families)
11. Focus on what matters most. In his closing Mass at Luneta, Pope Francis mentioned the distractions that could lead us to forget to focus “on the things that really matter”:
“…we squander our God-given gifts by tinkering with gadgets; we squander our money on gambling and drink; we turn in on ourselves.”
Let’s not let these days with our families — especially our young children — pass us by. Let’s focus on what is really essential.
To end, Pope Francis may not be a parent in the biological sense of the term, but he is, in many ways, a great “father” whom we can learn from. May the lessons we’ve learned during his historic visit stay with us — and our families — for generations to come.
Were you inspired by Pope Francis, too? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment below.