"We are gripped by a powerful spiritual resurgence. Across the entire spectrum from mainstream religions to Eastern philosophies to New Age movements, people in an increasingly driven and fragmented culture are searching for authentic spirituality and the sacred." ~Melissa Gayle West
The only story in Ireland at the weekend was the visit of Pope Francis to Ireland as part of the world meeting of families. There was a a genuine warm welcome for him by many people. Since his appointment as Pope, he has done things very different from his predecessors. There is much more openness, honesty, renewal, searching, listening, discernment and a willingness to work together to bring our faith alive.
The visit by Pope Francis was definitely an outstanding success. He had a hectic schedule and took it in his stride. He has a lovely smile and genuinely engages with people with sincerity and honesty. He also set time aside to meet and speak to abuse survivors. There was time set aside in his speeches too to talk about this incredibly dark cloud that seems to continually hover over the Irish church and across the world.
Was this visit of Pope Francis a good thing? Most definitely yes is my honest answer. While not attending the event due to parish commitments, I was watching events unfold on television and to be fair to RTE the coverage was top class. I genuinely believe that many people are searching, especially our young people. There is a genuine search and a deep hunger today for authentic spirituality and the sacred. The message of Jesus is as relevant, alive and as fresh as it ever was but the way of connecting this to our everyday lives in a modern world is the big challenge. Some of the old roads travelled by the church have completely worn out. Some of them are no longer fit for purpose and need to be closed. If the visit of Pope Francis encourages us to try new roads, while still respecting the old ones that work well; this will be a very good thing. His visit will be a boost for many people. His genuine honesty, simplicity, openness and closeness to God will leave its mark.