From TPM Reader DR …
Reader TS could have been my triplet (I already have a twin), as he/she just nailed my childhood. When my wife and I moved to Vermont in 2004, we started attending Mass again, looking for the community that TS describes and continues to be for my parents, who are heavily involved in their Church in southern California. But the pedophile scandal, the focus on abortion, the demonization of homosexuals, and the overtly conservative political tones of homilies (especially ahead of the 2008 election) drove me away once again.
Several years ago, we arrived for Christmas Mass only to have the priest announce a shortage of Communion wafers and that they’d be reserved for people who regularly attended Mass. I was absolutely astonished at how instantly divisive the priest set the mood. On Christmas morning. The prodigal son parable certainly didn’t sink in. So I’ve not been back since.
But Pope Francis is certainly reminding me of the love that the Catholic Church can share when it embraces everyone. There’s a point during Mass when we share the Blessing of Peace by shaking hands with or hugging our family and neighbors in the pews adjacent to us. It’s an act of joy, and my eyes moisten slightly each time. It’s the closest I’ve ever felt to a spiritual possession, and it’s simply beautiful, my favorite part of Mass, bar none. And I’ve missed it. Pope Francis is opening my eyes to a Church that I long ago closed my heart to, and that is simply remarkable. God Bless him for what he’s doing, and I don’t say that lightly.