Pope Francis was here in the Philippines for only five days but his inspiring words — and shining example of God’s love, joy and hope — continue to impact the lives of millions of people not just in my country, but all over the world.
Our Holy Father, who had even non-Catholic and atheist people wishing him well during his visit, has left many of us — including yours truly — on a special kind of spiritual “high;” one that makes you want to spend hours alone in prayer and go to the ends of the earth to “tell the world of His love,” as one of the popular songs sung during the Papal Visit goes.
Our family is blessed to have been among the thousands of people who lined the streets of Manila every day of the Pope’s visit, hoping to catch a glimpse of his smiling face as he passed by en route to his different activities.
By God’s grace, we were able to see Lolo Kiko (one of the nicknames given to him by fellow Filipinos) in person — even if it was just for a few seconds!
Like others who saw the Popemobile whiz by, we had different emotions.
Our eight-year-old son was more disappointed than joyful, because many people suddenly stood in front of him and blocked his view, just before the popemobile passed by! Since my husband had our five-year-old daughter on his shoulders, and I was carrying our toddler, neither of us was able to help our son get a better view of Pope Francis! He was able to see him the next day though, albeit from a distance. Still, it was better than not seeing the Pope at all!
We learned a lot from Pope Francis while he was here in the Philippines — about loving God, our families and others, especially the poor. Here are some important lessons, especially for those of us who are married with kids:
1. It’s important to dream as a family.
During his Encounter with Families, Pope Francis also encouraged all families to dream together:
“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."
Learn how to dream together. Talk about your family’s hopes, dreams and goals. Write them down. Pray about them. Ask God to make them come true, according to His will and plan.
2. Never forget that life should be respected in all forms.
At the same Encounter 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. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation!”
Jesus, through Pope Francis, reminds us of the sanctity of life, and the need to respect (and protect) it all times. A great reminder for all of us, especially as thousands of people have just marched for life in Washington .
3. If you want to strengthen your family, pray together.
The Holy Father mentioned the importance of prayer many times during his visit to the Philippines. He especially emphasized it at the Encounter with Families:
“Resting in prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. And don’t forget when the family prays together, it remains together. This is important.”
No matter how busy or crazy life can get, always pause for prayer. Take time to pray by yourself, and with your spouse — and with your kids, too, if you have them.
4. The family needs to be protected at all times.
In many of his messages during his visit, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of protecting our families. During his homily at Luneta Park, he spoke of “the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family.”
“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.”
Let us do our best to heed the words of our Holy Father, and do all we can to protect our families.
5. When you are facing trials and tribulations, remember that you are not alone.
In Pope Francis’s moving homily for the survivors of Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan in Tacloban, he reminds us to take courage during times of trial and grief:
“Let us… look to Christ on the cross. He understands us because he endured everything. Let us look to our Mother and, like a little child, let us hold onto her mantle and with a true heart say – ‘Mother’. In silence, tell your Mother what you feel in your heart. Let us know that we have a Mother, Mary, and a great Brother, Jesus. 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.”
Remember that God is always with us, even in our darkest storms. The Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Lady of Sorrows, our Mother, is also there for us at all times. Let us cling to them during times of despair and doubt.
Let us continue to learn from Jesus through Pope Francis, His vicar here on earth, and pray that the Holy Father will receive all the guidance, support, good health and spiritual wisdom he needs to steer us through these crazy times. God bless us, every one!
P.S. I didn’t mention anything about the Pope and his now-famous “rabbits” remark because I wanted to focus on his messages during his visit to the Philippines. For a good read on that topic though, I’d suggest you start here.
Note: This is an excerpt from an article (that I wrote) that originally appeared on SmartParenting.com.ph. It has been edited and used with permission for the specific use of CatholicMom.com. To read the full article, click here.
Copyright 2015, Tina Santiago Rodriguez
First photo: Pope Francis Tacloban3.jpg, Benhur Arcayan, 17 January 2015, Public Domain, Malacanang Photo Bureau on Wikimedia Commons
Second photo: Pope Francis Tacloban 17.jpg, Benhur Arcayan, 17 January 2015, Public Domain, Malacanang Photo Bureau on Wikimedia Commons
Third photo: Pope Francis Malacanang 42.jpg, Rolando Mailo, 16 January 2015, Public Domain, Malacanang Photo Bureau on Wikimedia Commons
About the Author
Tina Santiago-Rodriguez is a Catholic wife and home educating mom by vocation, and a writer and editor by profession. Among her different roles, she believes that her most important "work" is to be a helpmate to her husband, and to raise her kids to be "Kingdom-Seekers." Find out more about Tina through her website: Truly Rich and Blessed.