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Maria V. Gallagher challenges us to enlist today in a revolution of tenderness, inspired by Pope Francis and the stranger who bought her a cup of coffee.

It was one of those days when I was questioning God. Not in an angry, confrontational way, but rather a bit wistfully. I just wondered why a long-time, urgent prayer request had not been granted. It was like a Who-Done-It mystery that offered few clues for solving. I was the bumbling detective, chasing leads, only to find myself completely baffled.

All this was going through my head as I approached the restaurant drive-thru. I placed my usual order, a creature of both habit and caffeine withdrawal. I could not wait to take that first sip of morning java.

When I pulled up to the window to pay, the cashier grinned broadly. “This is your lucky day!” she enthused. She then proceeded to inform me that the kind woman in the vehicle before me had paid for my specialty coffee.

“God bless her!” I exclaimed. It was like I had won the drive-thru lottery. In a world where constant news streams chronicled all manner of disasters, some good news had come my way. It was an unexpected answer to my prayer.

Pope Francis has called for a “revolution of tenderness.” For instance, in an address in 2015, the Holy Father defined tenderness in this way:

It is the love that comes close and becomes real. It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches the eyes, the ears and the hands.


latte with a heart in the foam


The woman ahead of me in the drive-thru had seen a way to extend kindness, and handed over cash to make the action official. It may have been a small act, but it had a big impact on my day — and a positive effect on those on social media with whom I shared the story.

At a time when many of us may feel powerless in the face of enormous challenges in our country, Pope Francis has offered a blueprint for action which we can incorporate into our daily lives.

The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of great leaders, of big companies. Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility. But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other as a ‘you’ and themselves as part of an ‘us.’ We all need each other.


The fact that we all need each other is a thing of great, exquisite beauty. My hand can help yours — yours can help mine. It is in this sense of community that our society can be rebuilt — one good deed at a time.


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Can you find it in your heart to engage in an act of kindness in the next 24 hours? #catholicmom

The tenderness revolution is profoundly personal and heaven-sent. As Pope Francis has exhorted us,

Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face. The "you" is always a real presence, a person to take care of.


I hope you will take up the “tenderness challenge” today. Can you find it in your heart to engage in an act of kindness in the next 24 hours?

Even the simple act of buying a stranger a cup of coffee can pay enormous spiritual dividends. The tenderness revolution needs you!


red paper heart

Copyright 2021 Maria V. Gallagher
Images: Canva Pro