Pope Francis seems to be a Pope for the people – well-loved, humble, plain and simple.
His inspiring words and surprisingly compassionate actions have touched the souls and hearts of so many around the world. Here at St. Ed’s we have embraced the hope he brings to our church. My husband affectionately calls him the ‘Hope Pope.’ This is a time within our world church, and our local archdiocesan church, and even our home church when Hope is welcomed; hope is a breath of new life that leads us forward.
Last Fall we began our year of Adult Faith offerings with Jackie Witter nourishing us with the “Ignatian Theology of Pope Francis.” Some folks who were at that retreat, said that the Ignatian Theology of Pope Francis is about “Humbleness – Being Christ – truly living the gospels;” it’s about seeing God as a “God of Surprises” and we need to “be available to God. Take to the streets and get to know people by name;” it’s about “My God lives in me, walks with me, wants me to live the Gospel in the world and to be open to his surprises!” “How fortunate we are to have a Pope who cares. Especially for the poor.” Pope Francis wrote a fabulous Apostolic Exhortation called “The Joy of the Gospel.” (Evangelii Gaudium) This document encourages, warns, explains and challenges Catholics, and as William N. Patenaude in the Nov. 27, 2013 Catholic World Report says, “all rooted in a pastor’s love for the flock.” Pope Francis is concerned about the “consumer” church of today and “warns that worldly forces will crush adherents to lukewarm, highly interiorized, and personalized Christian spiritualities that seek only their own ends—their own salvation. Such spiritualities impede the mission of the Church. Symptoms of these closed-in attitudes include the expectation that Mass must entertain; that the Church is a means to personal, worldly gain; or that the Gospel must make no demands on one’s life.” (William Patenaude) Oooh — that’s harsh. But it is a reality in churches like ours around the world.
Pope Francis also recognizes threats from society that keep folks from truly living the Gospel – or even hearing it properly.
This document cites threats like an “economy of exclusion,” where “[h]uman beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded” (EG 53-54); the “new idolatry of money,” which derives from “the denial of the primacy of the human person” (EG 55-56); a “financial system which rules rather than serves” (EG 57-58); rampant “inequality which spawns violence” (EG 59-60); and an array of other cultural concerns (EG 61-67) such as secularism, the breakdown of the family, and the viewing of marriage as a means to “mere emotional satisfaction that can be constructed in any way or modified at will” (EG 66).
But Pope Francis finds hope in the Joy of the Gospel that calls us to live the love that Jesus showed us so well in his example in the Gospels. He says in his document, “Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross is nothing else than the culmination of the way he lived his entire life. Moved by his example, we want to enter fully into the fabric of society, sharing the lives of all, listening to their concerns, helping them materially and spiritually in their needs, rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep; arm in arm with others, we are committed to building a new world. But we do so not from a sense of obligation, not as a burdensome duty, but as the result of a personal decision which brings us joy and gives meaning to our lives” (Evangelii Gaudium, 269).
Here at St. Ed’s, our many ministries of outreach to the poor and marginalized show that we take seriously this call to live a life of love of neighbor, of charity and justice.
From our many collections of food and other necessities, to hosting homeless families here for a week at a time through Families Moving Forward, even to our conscientious distribution of our Tithing money, we at St. Ed’s are answering this call to share the Joy of the Gospel. Pope Francis offers a Vision of JOY, a vision of HOPE, and a vision to be a “Church for and with the poor.”
Pope Francis says. “Be a Joyful Messenger.” So, here at St. Ed’s, on Sat. March 8, our Adult Faith Committee offers one more chance to get to know our new ‘Hope Pope.’ Fr. Greg Welch will present a morning on “Pope Francis: Plain and Simple,” from 9:00-11:30 am. We hope you will join us to embrace this new Pope who teaches us how to live the joyful Gospel more intentionally, every day, and in every way. Please call the parish to register, 952-835-7101.
MaryPat Potts (Director of Adult Faith, Community Life and Social Justice & Charity)