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A Blessing, A Grace

August 6th, 2012by Mary Anne Bressler

Grace can sneak up on us sometimes. We are going about our business and may not even realize it until later, but God is touching us. The truth of this has become present to me over the past month or so as I have been contacting people who volunteered as docents at an exhibit called “A Blessing to One Another: Pope John Paul II and the Jewish People.” I had rather anticipated that people who had volunteered seven years ago when the exhibit opened at Xavier University would not necessarily be interested in doing so again (even though I was incredibly excited about it myself). After all, the year the exhibit opened was the year John Paul died and there was a lot of interest. Perhaps enthusiasm had faded.  I sent an email and hoped for a few responses.

The first person to contact me talked about what a moving experience it had been, how she remembered the thank you I had sent last time, that she still had a photo of the docents in her kitchen. The steady stream of replies all echoed that theme: this exhibit had an impact that resonates still.

What was it about this exhibit that touched people? I think it was the insight it provided into this unique pope, whose presence extended so far beyond the walls of the Vatican. But beyond the story was the spirit of this man. He realized early in life that if we believe that all people are children of God, we must act accordingly. The relationships with Jewish people in his hometown led him to reach out in extraordinary ways as pontiff—inviting his childhood friend Jerzy to his first papal audience, visiting a synagogue and the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, publishing “We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah.” His love of God and of God’s people graced those he met. The exhibit made that spirit come alive in those who volunteered or visited in ways that none of us would have anticipated. I fully expect this to happen again when the exhibit opens in September. I have no doubt that unexpected graces will occur again.  Be sure to volunteer or visit so that you can share in the blessing.

Photo credit: Used with Permission
Mary Anne Bressler

Mary Anne Bressler is a parishioner and Pastoral Associate at St. Anthony Church in Madisonville and an adjunct faculty member at Xavier University.