Humbly regard others as more important than yourselves ...
Yesterday's reading from Mass consoled me, while so many online were once again questioning what the Pope was doing in Sweden and what he was saying. It was a quiet consolation, an assurance that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church, and the Pope...
If there is any encouragement in Christ,If there is any encouragement in Christ ...
any solace in love,
any participation in the Spirit,
any compassion and mercy,
complete my joy by being of the same mind, with the same love,
united in heart, thinking one thing.
Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory;
rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves,
each looking out not for his own interests,
but also everyone for those of others. - Philippians
Today the Holy Father offers considerations for six new beatitudes ... NOT changing Scripture, or adding to it, but offering a meditation - highlighting our path with a deeper understanding of holiness in today's world.
The Beatitudes are in some sense the Christian’s identity card. They identify us as followers of Jesus. We are called to be blessed, to be followers of Jesus, to confront the troubles and anxieties of our age with the spirit and love of Jesus.
Thus we ought to be able to recognize and respond to new situations with fresh spiritual energy. Blessed are those who remain faithful while enduring evils inflicted on them by others, and forgive them from their heart. Blessed are those who look into the eyes of the abandoned and marginalized, and show them their closeness. Blessed are those who see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him. Blessed are those who protect and care for our common home. Blessed are those who renounce their own comfort in order to help others. Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians. All these are messengers of God’s mercy and tenderness, and surely they will receive from him their merited reward.
Dear brothers and sisters, the call to holiness is directed to everyone and must be received from the Lord in a spirit of faith. - source
The Holy Father keeps asking us not to sadden the Holy Spirit, not to put limits on God's merciful, not to impede the freedom of the children of God. He opens hearts of those who listen - to recognize the dignity of each person, their freedom, and then to act, asking us to 'see God in every person, and strive to make others also discover him.'
Swedish cloistered nuns awaiting the Pope's arrival.
Blessed are those who pray and work for full communion between Christians.
We are so often confused by media reports on what the Holy Father says and does, and Catholic social media is one of the most contentious places to follow what the Holy Father is saying and doing. This Cardinal against Cardinal crap would be nothing if it wasn't for social media. There has always been dissension in the Church, and in no other time is it more obvious than in time of reform.
That said, ordinary people do not have to obsess over what the Pope says and does.
Pope Francis' predecessors have confused many at times. Benedict resigned, and is now kinda-sorta understood as a co-pope. He gave communion to a Lutheran monk at the funeral of John Paul. John Paul attended the Assisi peace gathering, kissed a Koran, was blessed by pagans, and so on. People blame the Council for all of this. That's not what the Church teaches about Vatican II though. It is not a 'bad Council'.
So we don't understand everything, but we have the promises of Christ, and he will never abandon us, he will not leave us orphans, he cannot deceive nor be deceived.
So what to do when we don't understand, especially when everyone else seems to believe they know more than the Pope and the hierarchy, and are more Catholic than the Pope and the Ordinary Form? That they are more holy than the Church?
Whatever the Pope is doing and saying may be at times difficult to understand or follow. It seems to me it is because his style is so spontaneous, immediate and personal, it inspires non-Catholics and fallen away Catholics in such a unique way, that it excites a genuine interest in Catholic practise and teaching. With an open heart, he opens the hearts of those who hear him.
If I'm confused about something - it is usually because I'm reading negative commentary and speculative analysis on a pull-quote or soundbite attributed to the Pope. If I genuinely do not understand something, I keep telling myself it will all work out. I totally do not want to criticize the Holy Father.
To become disquieted over the daily reports on the Holy Father and his pastoral mission is not my responsibility. I don't have to understand, explain, or defend the Pope. As I explained to a trusted friend, 'I have a pretty simple spirituality - I repent every day, I pray, and do the best I can. I try. I have confidence in God, and not in man - and least of all, myself.'
Swedish rood screen.