Tuesday, November 10, 2015

This is glorious: What the Holy Father is saying while he visits Tuscany.

At Florence ...
He spoke about the features of Christian humanism and the temptations to which the Church is exposed.
I especially like this latest address since it seems to me it explains much of Pope Francis' vision for the Church, which has thus far confused so many, causing them to feel the Holy Father is always scolding or changing doctrine.  I rarely feel that he is scolding, insulting, but rather exhorting Catholics.  Likewise, I've never believed he desires doctrinal changes or compromise as regards even 'one letter of the law'.  I like especially how the Holy Father described the reform of the Church, citing the character of the Church as semper reformata - always reforming.  The Church is not "a closed system incapable of generating questions, concerns, questions, but it is alive, unsettles, animates. Its face isn’t rigid, its body moves and develops, it has tender flesh: that of Jesus Christ.

"The reform of the church then, and the church is semper reformanda ... does not end in the umpteenth plan to change structures, It means instead grafting yourself to and rooting yourself in Christ, leaving yourself to be guided by the Spirit -- so that all will be possible with genius and creativity."

I'm surprised at people like Janet Smith and Ed Peters and so many other laity and ordained, who keep discussing every statement, every development as if it bodes schism or a more deeply splintered Church - as if the Church has been at peace during recent pontificates and the Franciscan papacy represents some sort of rupture with the past.  Others speak of schism or a divided Church, splitting into the Anglican model of high church and low church, or the Orthodox synodal structure.  These people need to listen more closely to what the Pope is actually saying - perhaps becoming a bit less scrupulous about Latin translations and choir-dress, avoiding what the editors and journalists of Catholic news sources are extrapolating and projecting onto the Pope's allocutions.

That said, the following notes on what the Pope had to say at Florence are very reassuring - at least for me.  I call it glorious - because it seems to me to clarify his teaching and vision for evangelization.

“We can speak about humanism only by starting from the centrality of Jesus, discovering in Him the features of the authentic face of man. And the contemplation of the face of the dead and risen Jesus that recomposes our humanity, fragmented as it may be by the hardships of life, or marked by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ. The face is the image of His transcendence. … I do not wish here to draw an abstract image of the 'new humanism', a certain idea of man, but to present with simplicity some features of Christian humanism, which is that of the sentiments, the mind of Jesus Christ. These are not abstract temporary sensations but rather represent the warm interior force that makes us able to live and to make decisions”:
“The first sentiment is humility. … The obsession with preserving one's own glory and 'dignity', one's own influence, must not form part of our sentiments. We must seek God's glory, that does not coincide with ours. God's glory that shines in the humility of the stable in Bethlehem or in the dishonour of Christ's cross always surprises us”.

“Another sentiment is selflessness. '… The humanity of the Christian is always outward-looking. … Please, let us avoid 'remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits that make us feel safe'. Our duty is to make this world a better place, and to fight. Our faith is revolutionary because of the inspiration that comes from the Holy Spirit”.

“Another of Jesus Christ's sentiments is beatitude. The Christian is blessed. … In the Beatitudes, the Lord shows us the path. By taking it, we human beings can arrive at the most authentically human and divine happiness. … For the great saints, beatitude is about humiliation and poverty. But also in the most humble of our people there is much of this beatitude: it is that of he who knows the richness of solidarity, of sharing also the little he possesses. … The beatitudes we read in the Gospel begin with a blessing and end with a promise of consolation. They introduce us to a path of possible greatness, that of the spirit, and when the spirit is ready all the rest comes by itself”.
“However, we know that there are many temptations we must resist. I will present you at least two of them. The first is that of Pelagianism, which leads the Church not to be humble, selfless and blessed. … Often it leads us even to assuming a style of control, of hardness, normativity. Rules give to the Pelagian the security of feeling superior, of having a precise orientation. In this it finds its strength, not in the soft breath of the Spirit. Faced with the ills or the problems of the Church, it is useless to seek solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of outdated forms and conduct that have no capacity for meaning, even culturally. Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts and uncertainties, but it is living, it knows how to disturb and to encourage. Its face is not rigid, it has a body that moves and develops, it has tender flesh; Christian doctrine is called Jesus Christ”.
“A second temptation is the gnosticism that leads us to place our trust in logical and clear reasoning that, however, loses the tenderness of our brother's flesh. … The difference between Christian transcendence and any other form of gnostic spiritualism resides in the mystery of the Incarnation. Not putting into practice, not leading the Word to reality, means building on sand, remaining in the pure idea and degenerating into intimisms that do not bear fruit, that render its dynamism sterile”. - Finish reading here.

Here is what I think.  If you don't understand the Pope - you maybe are not listening.  Or you think you know better.  A maxim of St. John of the Cross may help with that:  "Allow yourself to be taught."
Christian doctrine is not a closed system incapable of generating questions, doubts and uncertainties, but it is living, it knows how to disturb and to encourage. Its face is not rigid, it has a body that moves and develops, it has tender flesh; Christian doctrine is called Jesus Christ”. - VIS
Works for me.

. . .

Bonus Trivia Question:  "Now class, who said the following?"

"In my view, a Church which seeks above all to be attractive, is already on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for herself, she does not work to increase her numbers and power. She works for Another. She serves not herself, not to become strong. She serves to make the announcement of Jesus Christ more accessible….. "



  1. Love the doctrine quote...though I think Pope Francis is a bit much, I mean, trying to make us "think," about all these things...maybe inspiring us to read and do some research, maybe get us to talk about Doctrine as a living thing instead of a musty old rule that the nuns told us to follow or we would go to Hell. All of that takes energy to engage the Faith as he wants us to.

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    1. "These people need to listen more closely to what the Pope is actually saying"

      The more I read about "these people" the more I am convinced they just don't like Papa Francis, period. So, in other words, no matter what he says, does not say, how he says it, does, does not do, they just don't like him as he has in their eyes, "failed to meet their criteria of what a pope should be."

      Call me judgemental? So what?

      "These people" and their lot have set the standard and I am just assuming, presuming, speculating, dissecting, scrutinizing, hand-wringing, preparing for the worst ... all just in imitation of "these people."

      And to think the week has only just begun!

      Viva il Papa and forever under the mantle of the Blessed Virgin!

  3. Raising my hand.... I know the answer to your question. :) ! Francis and Benedict are different to me only in their manner. I googled this: Did Benedict say “One might say that a church which seeks above all to be attractive would already be on the wrong path, because the Church does not work for itself? And you know what came up. lol I'm not worried about Pope Francis. I now live in southeastern Arizona by the border. I've been here since late February 2001. I came back to the Church in 2008 after 40 years away. The liturgy was quite a shock, boy oh boy oh boy. I was used to the Latin Mass, but I now love the novus ordo that we celebrate here. We have a beautiful church, but a parish whose membership is diminishing as the population gets older. Our church is a national historic landmark and we are celebrating our centennial. Quite a history this little city has.It went from a mining town with the largest population between St. Louis & San Francisco in the 20's to Hippieville when the mines closed, to a little bit of everything now, including the most gay couples population in Arizona. You can see the church here and some history: https://www.stpatsbisbee.com/162

    1. I have always liked Tucson myself. I had a cousin who lived in Green Valley. I loved sitting out on her porch watching the sun go down.
      I have family 90 miles south of Nogales in Sonora. Spent all my summers there as a kid. ^^
      I thought the answer might be Papa Benny too. I love the idea of those two praying for each other and for us all. Our God reigns!

    2. I have very good friends in Green Valley, who moved out there from Tucson. I used to go up to Tucson at least once a week, and will probably start doing so again in the not too distant future. I like it, too. It's a 200 miles round trip. How blessed you were to be able to spend your summers where you did. And yes, our God reigns!


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