The swirl that I found myself in when I visited Washington, D.C. during the Pope Francis’ visit to the United States brought to mind Jesuit Fr. Bill Callahan, who in the early 1980s coined the phrase “noisy contemplation." It was a clear call that we can all pray all the time no matter how hectic our lives become. It is taking the time to really see what is before us, no matter how fast we might be going.
A woman religious who teaches a course at the Philadelphia prison Pope Francis visited Sept. 27 believes the pope's outreach to prisoners will have an impact on the criminal justice system in America. "He'll be aware of the injustices that may occur in the prison system," and his presence will raise public awareness about prison systems around the country, said Mercy Sr. Elizabeth Linehan, a professor of philosophy at Jesuit-run St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia.
As a Sister of St. Joseph of Peace, I often find myself reflecting on the words spoken by the Bishop of Nottingham at the profession of our first sisters in 1884: “To secure this divine peace for ourselves and procure its blessings for others in the midst of the sin, turmoil and restless anxiety of this modern world is the object of your institute.” Our religious congregation was founded to promote peace in family life, in the church, and in society in the late 19th century, a time when there was tremendous social upheaval and poverty causing people to flee their native lands in search of a better life. Today in the early 21st century, there is tremendous poverty and violence forcing millions of people to flee their native lands in search of a better life.
As I sat and reflected on the few days the pope spent in the United States, with all that he did and shared, and the two days, in particular, that we were treated to his presence in Philadelphia, I couldn’t believe how significant the time had been. Seeing him go was like the Ascension; I was sad, but I also knew that what I’d experienced wasn’t over. Francis left a spirit that needs to be kept alive.