By Alexander Cranstoun
Holy chaos. If there were two words I would use to describe the Holy Father's visit to the United States, holy and chaos would be it, followed by inspiring faith and historic journey.
That's not just because Pope Francis came to the U.S. for the first time, but because of the response that he received here. Millions of people came to Washington D.C., New York, and Philadelphia to greet Pope Francis. Why all of the commotion?
I had the great fortune of attending the Holy Father's canonization Mass for St. Junípero Serra, as well as, going to Philadelphia for his visit and celebration of the final Mass of the World Meeting of Families. One thing that I noticed was that not only were Catholics coming to greet the "vicar of Christ" but people of all faiths were journeying from far and wide just to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis.
In a quaint coffee shop on Philadelphia's Chestnut Street on Sunday, Sept. 27 after the papal Mass, a woman and her daughter approached me to ask about the T-shirt I was wearing. It said "Power to the Papal" and depicted the pope raising his arms with a crozier in his left hand. I explained that I had gotten it at Catholic University of America in D.C. where I'm a student and where the pope had canonized a saint.
This woman told me that she had lived in Philadelphia as a Jewish woman all of her life and never before had she been so excited to see a man that wasn't related to her. She had been taught that Catholicism was a cult which condemns all non-Catholics to hell, but in hearing the Holy Father speak about love, hope, and mercy, she had a change of heart.
After hearing Pope Francis speak throughout this week and at his homily at Mass, she was so moved, that she expressed a wish to join the Catholic Church. She wants to be a part of a faith that not only promotes love and Mercy but that also lives out Christ's call.
On campus here at CUA and around the nation, I have seen a change of heart in Catholics and non-Catholics alike. There has been a rejuvenation. Those who encountered the Holy Father have been filled with a kind of fire for Christ and his body, which I pray leads all of us to serve one another as Christ serves us.
Alexander Cranstoun is a parishioner of St. John the Baptist Parish in Covington and a first-year theology and religious studies student at the university. This commentary has been edited for space and content.
(Photo: Alexander Cranstoun)