The letter to the priests of Rome (May 31, 2020) is steeped in teachings on priestly ministry, largely drawn from the experience of the pandemic and in view of the new post-pandemic era.
For "more to love and serve".
They can be presented in four steps, all of which are introduced by a central message: "The new phase calls for wisdom, foresight and common care, so that all the efforts and sacrifices made so far will not be in vain."
1) Keep hope alive and operative. Hope is a gift and a task and, therefore, requires substantial collaboration on our part. The first apostolic community also lived "moments of confinement, isolation, fear and uncertainty." between the death of Jesus and his appearance as the Risen One (cf. Jn 20:19). In our case, Francis observes, "we live in community the hour of the Lord's weeping". when it was our turn "the hour also of the disciple's weeping". before the mystery of the Cross and of evil.
In our culture numbed by the welfare state, it has become evident - the Holy Father points out - that the following are the most important aspects of our culture "the lack of cultural and spiritual immunity from conflict".. We must also overcome the temptations that range from being satisfied with palliative activities in the face of the needs of our brothers and sisters, to taking refuge in nostalgia for times past, thinking that we will be able to overcome the temptations of the past. "nothing will ever be the same".
But the Risen One did not wait for ideal situations. Jesus offered his hands and his wounded side as a way of resurrection. Hence the Pope encourages us to see things as they are, to allow ourselves to be consoled by Jesus, to share the suffering of others, to feel others as flesh of our flesh, not to be afraid to touch their wounds, to sympathize with them and thus experience that distances are erased. In short: "Knowing how to cry with others, this is holiness." (apostolic exhortation Gaudete et exsultate76) and for this we have received the Holy Spirit (cf. Jn 20:22).
3) Moreover, faith allows us a realistic and creative imagination. If the situation we have just been through has confronted us with reality, let us not be afraid to continue to do so in the face of the needs of our brothers and sisters: "The strength of the testimony of the saints is in living the beatitudes and the protocol of the final judgment." (Gaudete et exsultate, 109).
4) To assume responsibility with generosity, is what the Risen One is asking of us now: not to turn our backs on our people, but to accompany and heal them, with courage and compassion, avoiding all skepticism and fatalism.
"Let us place in the Lord's wounded hands." -The Pope advises us, "as a holy offering, our own fragility, the fragility of our people, the fragility of the whole of humanity"..
And so the Lord will transform us as bread in his hands, he will bless us and give us to his people so that they may fill the world with hope. It also depends on us to "love and serve more".
Overcoming narcissism, victimhood and pessimism
In its Pentecost homily (May 31, 2020), Francis invited us to know how to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit: the gift of unity that brings together diversity.
In choosing the apostles, Jesus did not make them uniform or mass-produced specimens. Then, with the coming of the Holy Spirit, his anointing brings about this gift of union in diversity. What unites us is the reality and the awareness of being beloved children of God and not the pretension that others have the same ideas as we do.
That is why we should not allow ourselves to be carried away by those who sociologically classify us Christians into groups and tendencies, perhaps to block us. "The Spirit" -The successor of Peter points out. "He opens, revives, impels beyond what has already been said and done, He leads beyond the realms of a timid and distrustful faith.". Thus we are able to grow by giving ourselves: "not preserving ourselves, but giving ourselves without reserve"..
What is it that prevents us from giving ourselves, the Pope asks. And he answers that "three are the main enemies of the gift [...], always crouching at the door of the heart: narcissism, victimhood and pessimism.". The narcissism leads to thinking only of oneself, without seeing one's own frailties and mistakes. The victimhood leads to complaining all the time, but complaining especially about others, because they do not understand us and they antagonize us. The pessimism leads one to think that everything is wrong and that it is useless to surrender.
It is about three gods or better three idols, which Francisco characterizes with quick strokes: "In these three - the narcissistic mirror idol, the mirror god; the lamentation-god: 'I feel like a person when I lament'; the negativity-god: 'everything is black, everything is darkness' - we are confronted with a dearth of hope and we need to value the gift of life, the gift that is each one of us.".
And he invites us to pray for healing from these three enemies: "Holy Spirit, memory of God, revive in us the memory of the gift we have received. Deliver us from the paralysis of selfishness and enkindle in us the desire to serve, to do good. For worse than this crisis is only the drama of wasting it, closing in on ourselves. Come, Holy Spirit, You who are harmony, make us builders of unity; You who always give Yourself, grant us the courage to go out of ourselves, to love and help each other, to become one family. Amen.
The Eucharist: "memorial" of God who heals us
The homily at Corpus Christi (14-VI-2020) contains a profound teaching on the Eucharist as "memorial": memorial of the Lord's Passover, and also memorial of our faith, our hope and our love. "Memorial of God." that heals us, says the Pope. And so we could say memorial of the heart, giving the term heart all its biblical meaning, because "a man is worth what his heart is worth." (St. Josemaría Ecrivá).
First of all, the Eucharist "heals the orphaned memory". That is to say, "the memory wounded by the lack of affection and the bitter disappointments received from the one who should have given love but instead left the heart desolate.". The Eucharist infuses us with a greater love, the very love of God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In second place, the Eucharist heals our negative memory. This "memory" that "it always brings out the things that are wrong and leaves us with the sad idea that we are good for nothing, that we only make mistakes, that we are wrong.".
Jesus comes to tell us that this is not so. That we are valuable to him, that he always sees the good and the beautiful in us, that he desires our company and our love. "The Lord knows that evil and sins are not our identity; they are diseases, infections." And - with good examples in this time of pandemic - the Pope explains how the Eucharist "heals": "contains the antibodies to our sick memory of negativity. With Jesus we can immunize ourselves against sadness".
Thirdly, the Eucharist heals our closed memory, which makes us fearful and suspicious, cynical or indifferent, arrogant..., selfish. All this, notes the successor of Peter, "it is a deception, for only love cures fear at the root and frees us from the obstinations that imprison".. Jesus comes to free us from those armors, inner blockages and paralysis of the heart.
The Eucharist helps us to stand up to help others who are hungry for food, dignity and work. It invites us to establish authentic chains of solidarity. In addition to uniting us personally with Christ, it enables us to build up the mystery of communion that is the Church and to participate in its mission (see also the Angelus of the same day, June 14).