It was not so long ago that students complained of bloody knuckles from the ruler. This type of treatment was more the norm than the exception in eliciting Catholic guilt, and it did not stop and end at nuns trying to teach mathematics. The heavy hand extended rather clearly – among the initiated – to the pulpit and even prayer, in advance of the rebirth.
We are not fully reborn of course, but there is something to be said for Pope Francis’ light guiding touch that has made the wait and persistence of faith worth it. No longer do I feel quite so guilty for enjoying myself in ways visceral but victimless, should I also pay respect to what is truly good. No longer do I feel the need to hide from authority because they are bound to only see things in the light of what could go wrong as opposed to what could go right. A God merciful to the good of heart, despite a love of life – I have been waiting for it all my life and it is here.
Tomorrow it does not matter if I see the Pope, though I happen to be in D. C. I have already seen the good done in the faces of those estranged from faith and The Church. We have a Pope respectful of humanity and the human condition, in the face of historical demands made in the name of God, though not always true to His spirit. It is a good time to be a Catholic, and a good time for the world to rethink faith.