A dear friend sent me a note from the Spiritual Exercises which I found very helpful when it comes to reading editorialized news reports online: "that every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor's statement than to condemn it." I take it to heart as advice to myself.
It seems to me that Ignatian spirituality is the key to understanding the Holy Father, and perhaps why I find his teaching so appealing. The Spiritual Exercises bolstered me in my conversion many years ago. Shortly after returning to the sacraments I made an Ignatian retreat - not the long one - but the Ignatian method of prayer was how my prayer was initially formed and directed.
That said, I came across some good stuff the Holy Father recently told the Jesuits in Vilnius: "Meditate on the Passion, he tells his brothers, and be not afraid to go into the terrain of the devil..."
What? I know! But I totally get what the Pope means - it explains so much about this papacy. It even corrects many of my misconceptions about the ministries of a few controversial figures. What does the Holy Father mean?
Listen... or rather read with the heart.
As the spiritual support of their flocks, the Jesuits must not fear to descend into other people’s “hell,” Pope Francis told his spiritual brothers.
We must not be afraid to go down into “people’s hell,” said the Successor of Peter on this occasion. Upon entering the “terrain of the devil,” one touches human and social sufferings, he said; that is to say, people’s “wounds,” and, through them, those of Christ. It helps, said the head of the Catholic Church, to “meditate on the Passion of the Lord.”
This mission, however, should not be undertaken “on one’s own,” but with the help of the Lord and the “beautiful mafia of angels,” he jokingly recommended.
Difficult situations must be confronted with the Lord, he assured, and in dialogue with the whole community, especially the superior. “The provincial is a brother,” said the pope, who himself held this position for the Jesuit community of Argentina between 1973 and 1980.
In addition, Pope Francis discussed the role of the confessor. According to him, it is “to embrace the prodigal son.” The confessor must therefore act with “paternity” and never chase away a penitent. If not, he warned, his bishop must question whether this priest should have the faculties to confess. It is not a question of granting “sweeping” pardons, but of acting like a “merciful father.” - Source
As St. Therese wrote: "a soul in the state of grace need never be afraid of the devil, who is such a coward that even the gaze of a child will frighten him away.”