Monday, July 29, 2013

Some good observations by John Thavis on Pope Francis and WYD

I just want to pass off some quotes from an article I picked up at New Advent, written by John Thavis.  You may have read that Pope Francis wanted people to go out and "make a mess" in their diocese.  Keep in mind that things can be translated in different ways.  Being told to, "go fly a kite," doesn't mean you should go fly a kite in reality, but to get lost. But, when someone tells you to get lost they don't mean.... oh, never mind!  Moving right along...

Thavis writes:

Here’s how the Vatican officially translated the pope’s remarks, delivered off-the-cuff to Argentinian pilgrims at World Youth Day in Brazil: 
“I want you to make yourselves heard in your dioceses, I want the noise to go out, I want the church to go out onto the streets, I want us to resist everything worldly, everything static, everything comfortable, everything to do with clericalism, everything that might make us closed in on ourselves. The parishes, the schools, the institutions are made for going out ... if they don’t, they become an NGO, and the church cannot be an NGO. May the bishops and priests forgive me if some of you create a bit of confusion afterward. That’s my advice. Thanks for whatever you can do.” 
That’s a radical message from a pope, and yet it was perfectly in line with Francis’ effort to move the church out of the sacristy and into the street, away from theological debates and toward real-life encounters with the suffering and marginalized.

Having heard Pope Francis say something similar so many times, to "go outside" of "ourselves" or, "our churches" I pretty much understood him to be saying that the Gospel isn't something to be kept to ourselves. We are not meant to go to Mass on Sunday, then go about our week without using some of those "talents" given us by the Lord to bring others to him.  It reminds me of the e-poster that was going around soon after Pope Francis was elected:

If you can't read it the first frame shows Pope John Paul II saying, "This is what we believe." The second has Pope Benedict XVI saying, "This is why we believe it." And, the last shows Pope Francis saying, "Now go do it."

This means there is a reason for the different personalities of each of the Popes and one not being better than the other.  Each serves a particular purpose just as St. John was different from St. Paul.

Back to the article by Thavis, here is another good quote.

- The pope implicitly addressed the challenge raised by Pentecostal and evangelical communities, which have attracted many Brazilian Catholics over the last 30 years. He did so primarily by showing attention to spiritual needs of the suffering – the kind of attention many say they have not found in the Catholic Church. 
On another level, Francis’ insistence on the Gospel of the poor stood in marked contrast with the “prosperity theology” espoused by some Brazilian Christian preachers.

-- He gave some strong marching orders to Catholic ministers and pastoral workers, telling them to promote a “culture of encounter” with those outside the church: “We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities, when so many people are waiting for the Gospel! It is not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people!” 
And taking a page from his own playbook, the pope encouraged ministers to reject intellectualism and speak the language of simplicity. He spelled it out bluntly: “At times we lose people because they don’t understand what we are saying.” 
-- Francis connected with the young – but reminded them to keep in mind the elderly. It was clear that the pope sees young people in the church as part of a larger community, not as an isolated subset that needs a special “marketing” approach by the hierarchy.

Translation: Spare the gimmicks, slogans and programs - which are superficial and often ignored.  But who can ignore someone who goes into the trenches and proclaims the truth, sometimes without words? Mother Teresa brought more into the Church than any program or gimmick.  St. Philip Neri, St. John Bosco, St. Gemma, St. Francis, St. Guiseppe Moscati all went out against the grain of their times and carried truth in charity to places many intellectual and nominal Catholics did not want to go.

Pope Francis warns of not becoming an NGO.  I'm reminded of a moving video created some years ago by Grass Roots Films called, "God in the Streets of New York City"  Many of the friars  in this video minister daily to the poorest of the poor in that city, but they don't sidestep the spiritual side.  The food they eat is often food that is considered throw away. They feel the pain of the poor because they live among them.  They don't sugar coat a relationship with Jesus because to have a relationship with Jesus involves giving something to him - one's will.  People want to stay in their sin because it brings them worldly pleasure and too many priests are afraid to upset them or cause them pain.  But, a boil that is not lanced is a boil that can lead to a bloodstream infection and death. 

And this is a point often missed:

He emphasized that young people need to appreciate the experience and wisdom of elders, who are often forgotten by society. In this way, he introduced a new theme into World Youth Day: that the young and the old are sometimes victims of our modern economy, which treats both categories as disposable. "We do the elderly an injustice. We set them aside as if they had nothing to offer us," he said.
When my mother was in a nursing home for rehab several years ago before she passed away, I had to go there and saw things that just tugged at my heart.  It was painful to be there, yet I was moved to pity for these people who were probably in most need of a priest, and were least likely to see one.  Their souls are no less precious to God than the smallest of babies.  Here they were at the end of their life without the benefit of the grace that comes with regular Sunday Mass and opportunity for Confession.  Some have dismissed this when I have brought it up because they presume all of those people are senile .  The suffering in those places for those of sound mind is all the more reason for priests to draw closer to them.  If you want to talk about "going out" a priest might consider spending one afternoon a month at a local nursing home and going room to room seeing who might want confession and the Eucharist.  I guarantee he would forgo many other things and go back and would feel the satisfaction that comes with saving souls in the most vulnerable period of their lives when Satan can exert very little to snatch them.

But I am glad to that the Holy Father talked about the wisdom of elders.  We've all been young and we all know what kind of pride can dwell in people at that time.  There is much for old people to learn from the young and for the young to learn from the old.

Go read the whole article at the blog of John Thavis.

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

Te Deum Laudamus! Home

The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
it is the disobedient who are held captive by the world!

- Diane M. Korzeniewski

Note: The recommended links below are automatically generated by the tool, so they are not necessarily related content.