I love being around children, and when I get their jokes I love to laugh along! I recently admired my cousin’s love and patience as he played a three-year-old’s version of Name that Tune. He hummed, whistled, or did lip trills to the tune of Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star, Happy Birthday, and The Monkeys Jumping on the Bed. When it was my goddaughter’s turn, she hummed the same three songs and was absolutely thrilled with each of his belabored guesses.
I admire Pope Francis. Don’t you? I think most onlookers would agree that, if he could, he’d spend a little time with each person he encountered. This is what Jesus would do right now if we could see him with our natural eyes.
Courage to Believe in Goodness
The desire to see goodness brightens a child’s eyes as he or she discovers the world. And yet believing in goodness seems like it’s becoming a courageous thing to do in today’s world, doesn’t it?
I often wonder about the world view we pass on to kids these days. We’ve seen so many public figures and companies make moral and legal missteps that some of us have come to expect it. I often ask myself, “How would God speak to this person who just made a very public mistake?” I’d bet God would be much more merciful in most circumstances. That’s why I believe we can love the kids in our lives by meeting the dreams and hopes which brighten their eyes with steady examples of goodness. We all need the sparkle of thoughtfulness, kindness, mercy, courageousness, integrity, and perseverance.
Pope Francis: A Walking Teachable Moment
The saints are classic go-to sources for Catholic parents looking to teach Christian character to their children. If we look around, however, we can recognize in Pope Francis the tremendous opportunity for a walking teachable moment right now. Here are seven things the pope would say to the children in your lives:
1) Share Your Joy
“A Christian is joyful.” This is perhaps the most frequent and succinct definition of a Christian I’ve heard from our Holy Father. He says joy is a gift from God and comes from inside of us. It comes from the security that Jesus is with us. And from joy comes worship and true freedom.
2) Be Courageous
In pace with a group of young people last month, the Holy Father encouraged young people to face the future: “In life, there will always be people who will make you offers to slow down or impede you on your way. Please, go against the current. Be courageous.”
3) Go Forward. Dream of Doing Great Things!
The pope gave young people a title at World Youth Day in Rio. He called them “artisans of the future” saying, “Boys and girls should want to achieve great things.”
4) Be Young
“I wish you all well, do good work with joy in your heart: joyful young people!”
5) You Belong to Christ
Acknowledging the goal of the quest for identity, his message was clear to the millions gathered in Rio: “These young people are from every continent. They speak many languages; they bring with them different cultures; and yet they also find in Christ the answer to their highest aspirations, held in common, and they can satisfy the hunger for a pure truth and an authentic love which binds them together in spite of differences.”
6) Make Noise
Celebrating the spunk and idealism of youth, Pope Francis has repeatedly told young people to be loud about being young. “Wherever there are young people there must be noise. Things can be toned down later on, but a young person always wants to make noise. Go forward.”
7) Pray for Me
Pope Francis asked for prayers. He chuckled as he reasoned, “because this work is unhealthy, it’s not good for you.”
From Pope Francis to Adults
“Our generation will show that it can rise to the promise found in each young person when we know how to give them space. This means that we have to create the material and spiritual conditions for their full development; to give them a solid basis on which to build their lives; to guarantee their safety and their education to be everything they can be; to pass on to them lasting values that make life worth living; to give them a transcendent horizon for their thirst for authentic happiness and their creativity for the good; to give them the legacy of a world worthy of human life; and to awaken in them their greatest potential as builders of their own destiny, sharing responsibility for the future of everyone” (Pope Francis at the Garden of Guanabara Palace, Rio de Janeiro, July 22, 2013).
Join the Daughters of St. Paul, Pauline Books & Media, and JClub in our mission for creating that space the Holy Father suggests. Help us pass on lasting values that make life worth living and point to authentic happiness.