Fran, 21, is orginally from the diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. She is currently studying Theology at Leeds Trinity.
Having been brought up in a Catholic family, going to Mass every Sunday with my parents and brothers, you’d think I’d have always had some devotion to our Holy Father. I’m afraid not. Don’t get me wrong, since taking my faith more seriously as a young adult I have learnt so much about the beauty and importance of the Papacy but I can only say that reality has been true for the past two years… since World Youth Day, Madrid. Before that I was just a regular student who didn’t go to Mass on a Sunday, who wouldn’t have known the first thing about who the Pope was, what he was saying, and a regular student who, after one semester, dropped out of uni…
Then, just to be totally cliché, I changed my life around, started a new degree in Theology and started to take my faith seriously. I know you’re probably sitting thinking ‘I’ve heard it all before’, but WYD Madrid really did change my view of the Catholic Church, I’d even go so far to say my life. Up until World Youth Day, I had no idea who Pope Benedict was other than what people around me were saying (non-Catholic people I might add). He was a Nazi and he’d covered up child abuse scandals. Then I opened my ears and started to listen to the beautiful things he had to say and I became a fully-fledged member of Generation Benedict! WYD was incredible, highlights including: celebrating mass with 2 million other young people, the incredible catechesis at the Love and Life Centre and being inspired by the incredible words of Pope Benedict (on several occasions). But what about all the young people who never get to experience WYD, or any event that shows them how alive the Catholic Church really is?!
Pope Benedict has kept the hope alive that one day the beauty of the Truth will truly be accessible to all. He ignited in me a passion to see the message that we all treasure be spread using mediums that young people use themselves… Facebook… Twitter. The Twitter account that Benedict so bravely started is a perfect example. He is a picture of courage and is so clearly passionate about reaching out to young people on their level. What an image of Christ. Jesus would totally have created a Twitter account, I honestly believe that. We need to take note, from Jesus… from Benny, that we cannot live faith without ever being challenged. We put ourselves out there and WITNESS, just as Pope Benedict did with his tweets, knowing that we will be met with opposing arguments and often hate. As Generation Benedict we are called to stand up and be counted, to put our faith out there for people to see and to let our lives be filled with integrity, that what we believe is shown through how we act.
This is the fire that has been lit, the passion that has been spurred in me by so much of what our Holy Father has said. He’s so much better with words than me which might explain why I feel the need to include a quote from him or John Paul II in every essay I write for uni… My favourite quote, and the one that, for me, sums up everything I’ve tried to say here;
The one who has hope lives differently
Spe Savi Encyclical Letter
Let us continue to live differently, to communicate that we live for Christ alone and to honour the incredible service of Papa B.