By Marta Pensi and Vittorio Paciaroni
On 13th March 2013, while Pope Francis blessed the crowd in St Peter’s Square for the first time, we were watching him on television, holding our 7-month-old daughter in our arms.
We were in another house, in what now seems like another era, but above all we were in a completely different mental and spiritual space. We were frightened, not by the natural fear that inhabits a young parent, but by the inert terror of those who do not look to the future with hope. Yet that very child - and her sister who would arrive a couple of years later - would make us intensely desire to change our lives to be better people, and better parents.
We both grew up in Ignatian spirituality and ways, and we share foundations that, even in the most difficult moments, make us feel we are looking in the same direction: faith as dialogue and relationship on a daily basis, unconditional trust in each other, the knowledge that children are entrusted to us and we are an instrument for their growth, the importance of friendship, gratuitousness and honesty.
However, since we became a mother and a father, we slowly realized that some of our fragilities, born from our respective family histories, which we had been almost comfortable avoiding facing up to that moment, were becoming evident in our relationship with our daughters. We had disproportionate reactions to inconsequential events: a whim, an unexpected occurrence, a behaviour we did not understand, and we would lash out. We were constantly tense, angry, unable to give encouraging words, either to the girls our ourselves.
These frailties that blocked us were also an obstacle to our spiritual life. How difficult it was during the Spiritual Exercises to do a “composition of place” about the Father re-embracing the youngest son coming home; how tiring it was to believe that Someone could tell us: “You are precious in my eyes”...