Thursday, July 25, 2013

After Mother Teresa died, I wondered what saint the Lord would raise up to lead in the reform of the Church.

Every age has its reformers, its moral leaders.

Extraordinary saints have always led the reform, the renewal of the Church in times of crises.  St. Francis for example, as the collect for the Feast of the Stigmata says:

O Lord Jesus Christ, Who when the world was growing cold, in order that the hearts of men might burn anew with the fire of Your love, did in the flesh of the most blessed Francis reproduce the stigmata of Your passion: be mindful of his merits and prayers; and in Your mercy vouchsafe to us the grace ever to carry Your cross, and to bring forth worthy fruits of penance.  
So we see the purpose of holy men and women and the charisms given to them.  We think of St. Pio who enkindled such love and devotion in the hearts of the faithful, a simple priest, enclosed in his friary in Italy.  Before him, Therese of Lisieux, a cloistered nun who never left the enclosure, but who reached millions of souls in her 'Little Way'.  Like Therese - and Francis, the very little, but great Mother Teresa of Calcutta, lived a contemplative life amidst the poorest of the poor, uniting, as it were, the charism of Carmel to that of Francis, alive and active in the streets.

Like these saints, today we have Pope Francis.  He combines these spiritual gifts and presents them to the Church and the world.  He has captured the hearts of the most simple and re-presents the Gospel in the cross-cultural, understandable language of the heart.  In the history of the Church God raised up little ones to lead the way, to reform and renew the faith.  However, it seems to me, in our day he has raised a little one to the Chair of Peter to show the way - to lead the way - with authority... albeit refusing to be confined by ancient protocol.

“The Church must be taken into the streets,” he said in the cathedral of Rio de Janeiro July 25.
“This is your protocol for action: the Beatitudes and Matthew 25,” he advised the youth.

Matthew 25 tells of the separation of the sheep from the goats at the Last Judgement: “I was hungry, and you gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me to drink; I was a stranger, and you took me in.”

“Please, do not water down the faith,” he pleaded. “Stir things up, cause confounding, but do not diminish faith in Jesus Christ.”

Finally, Pope Francis thanked his countrymen for their closeness to him. He lamented that he could not be closer to them.

“At times I feel (encaged) … how ugly it is to be encaged, I would have liked to be closer to you all,” he said, sharing his heart with them.

“Don't forget to make a mess, to disturb complacency. Don't forget the youth and the aged.”
Don't forget the youth and the aged.

The Pope does not marginalize, does not segregate, does not  write off others by expressing confidence in some 'biological solution' or much less, some compromise of Catholic teaching to bring more people 'in'.  He doesn't define and confine Catholics to this camp or that camp, to the left or the right. 

“We do not let aged people speak, and as for young people – it is the same. They do not have the experience and the dignity of work … Young people must be able to go out and fight for their values,” he urged.

“Care for the two extremes of life,” he taught. As youth must be able to stand up for their values, so must “older people be able to speak out, to transmit their wisdom and knowledge.”

“You must not let yourselves be marginalized. Faith in Christ is not a joke. The only sure way, is the way of Jesus, the resurrection of Jesus.”

“Faith in God's Son, who became man and who died for me, must make a mess, must disturb us out of our complacency.” - CNA Pope to Argentine youth.

If the Pope makes us uncomfortable, it is because we have been too comfortable, too self-satisfied, too complacent, too convinced of our own self-righteousness, while looking down on everyone else.   


  1. I love this Pope.

  2. ...with Pope Francis I feel like we Really See the Holy Spirit come to aid us and lead us. It is miraculous - a miracle we are seeing in action, in his person.

  3. ....I wonder...what the future holds for our elderly ... I appreciate Pope Francis commenting on the elderly & the young...the young will grow and become, we only hope, strong and good. The old...they really Are marginalized and "warehoused". consequently we don't regularly run into them and hear them, see them, experience them, as we do the younger generations. When I work nights, in the nursing home, my last task of the day (lately a short day) is to wheel a cart with treats to each room and offer the residents some snack etc. I love this part, as I get to see them alone & do little things for them, and I often get to look at a photo on the wall of them as a younger person. What time does ! How it 'ravages' the body, the face ! I joke with them that I am like an airline stewardess: I don't have martini's, but oreo's. How one's life telescopes ! I love them, and at the same time their intense neediness can be so hard to witness. There Is great dislike of the elderly. Put me in a wheelchair 24/7, in a dorm-like place, confined, and my own anxiety would sky-rocket and I too would be Just Like Them. I find all of this sad, painful, and at times it fills me with anguish. Our country in particular suffers with cruelty to those who are weak - pre-born or those terribly frail with age. I like especially to think about the "black sheep" of the Martin's, Leonie - who lived to 78 (?). It was she who lived the little way for so long. I guess I think about what poverty of spirit we are in that so few people think about sacrifice of Self and thus 'practise' how to become 'old' - at all ages. to be small and thus See others: as our Pope does. Thank you for your insight Terry - much to think about.

  4. This post reminds me of a funny scene from "The Reluctant Saint". The hunchback sees lowly Joseph of Cupertino levitating and then runs around wild-eyed shreiking, "He's saint! He's a saint!" The friars then just drag the hunchback offstage...


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