If ever there was tangible evidence of the veracity of Jesus’ words, “And behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20), it was certainly there for the whole world to see on March 13th as Pope Francis stepped out onto the balcony to greet the throngs of people gathered in Saint Peter’s Square, as well as those across the world. Without physically being present, the anticipation, the hope, the joy, not dampened by the chilly and wet Roman night, were palpable even to those viewing from the most far-flung corners of the globe.

It is impossible to adequately convey the myriad emotions that washed over me as I watched Pope Francis, a single white lily, surrounded by the Cardinals, like so many bright Christmas poinsettias, standing silently, practically motionless, gazing down at the sea of people. It was a moment of connecting with him – for me, a truly grace-filled moment. I couldn’t help but imagine, “Is his heart pounding wildly?” even as I felt an uptick in my own heart rate.

I innately sensed his simplicity and his deep humility, so much so, that he appeared small, yet strong at the same time; but then again, does not God frequently choose what is small in the world to shame the great? The simple beauty of inviting the crowd to join him in praying a Pater Noster, Ave Maria and Gloria Patri for Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, then his request to the crowd that they pray that God bless him as he humbly bowed was extraordinarily moving.

My heart swells at the thought that there is truly something singularly unique and special about the Catholic faith. While our Church might be made up of imperfect people who at times act in a most imperfect manner, it is nonetheless the true Church built by Jesus on the rock of Peter, and Jesus guides it still, never to abandon it, just as He promised.

I am so grateful to have been blessed with the gift of Catholic faith – a faith continually remaining a force for truth and light in this world even after 2,000 years. My greatest joy is being Catholic, and as I joined with the multitudes in thanking God for our Pope Francis, this prayer resounded from my heart, “Most loving and eternal Father, should my days number to 100 years and were I to spend each moment of each of one of those days thanking you for the extraordinary blessing of being a member of the Catholic Church, it would not, could not suffice!”