Pope's teachings

Conversion, compassion and trust

The health crisis unleashed in so many places by the coronavirus prompts us to reflect on some of Francis' teachings of the past weeks, and makes them resonate now in a singular way.

Ramiro Pellitero-April 3, 2020-Reading time: 5 minutes

We refer to his message for Lent, his message for the World Youth Day initially scheduled for early April in Rome; thirdly, his address to the Roman clergy on the occasion of Lent.

Call to conversion in a "special Lent".

The Pope's message was centered on a Pauline text: "In the name of Christ we ask you to be reconciled to God." (2 Cor 5:20). He invites us to look to the Crucified One in order to rediscover the Paschal MysteryThe basis for conversion: "Look into the open arms of Christ crucified, let yourself be saved again and again. And when you come to confess your sins, believe firmly in his mercy that frees you from guilt. Contemplate his blood so lovingly shed and let yourself be purified by it. Thus you will be reborn, again and again." (apostolic exhortation Christus vivit, n. 123).

This time of grace, which is always Lent, is this year strongly tinged by the circumstances - linked to the coronavirus pandemic - that surround us, which have led to the granting of profuse Indulgences (cfr. Decree of the Apostolic Penitentiary, 19-III-2020) by the Holy See. 

Much has already been written and will be written about the "lessons" we can draw from this difficult time, in which so many loved ones have left us and many others are seriously damaged or threatened in their lives, their families and their economies. 

This is why Francis' words, published months before he could foresee the situation in which we find ourselves, specifically on October 7, 2019, the same day that the Amazon Synod opened, become particularly dramatic and significant: "Placing the Paschal Mystery at the center of life means feeling compassion for the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, of abuses against the life of both the unborn and the elderly, of the many forms of violence, of environmental disasters, of the unjust distribution of the earth's goods, of human trafficking in all its forms and of the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry."

Perhaps this desire to accumulate - time and research will tell, but so will our conscience as Western consumers - is one of the factors triggering the problems we are experiencing. 

For great evils, great remedies, and the reaction of Christians all over the world is one of prayer and penance, huddled together with the Pope and the bishops. Anchored in faith, protected by Our Lady's mantle. Knowing that, even from all this, God can draw great good, counting on our prayer and conversion, our closeness to those who suffer and our work.

Experiencing compassion and always standing up for oneself

The Message for the XXXV World Youth Day 2020 The words of the Lord to the son of the widow of Nain: "Young man, to you I say, stand up!" (Lk 7:14). As a continuation of the synod on young people and in preparation for the great World Youth Day in Lisbon (2022), the Pope wants young people to wake up during these years and rise up to truly live with Christ. 

It is not a message of sweetness and appeasement. The Pope proposes to them to look, "seeing pain and death" around them. It does not refer only to what we are contemplating these days, but to the broad panorama of moral and spiritual, emotional and social death, which to a large extent affects young people themselves. Many are dead because they have lost hope, they live in superficiality or materialism, illusorily savoring their failures. Others have various reasons for suffering.

The Pope invites everyone to look directly, with attentive eyes, without putting their cell phones in front of them or hiding behind social networks. He invites them to tear down idols, to experience compassion for others (cf. Mt 25:35 ff.).

So many times you have to start by lifting yourself up. Not as a "psychological conditioning" as certain "self-help" advices, so fashionable (believe in yourself, in your positive energy!), pretend, as if they were "magic words" that should solve everything. Because for those who are "dead inside" these words do not work. To let oneself be lifted up by Christ really means a new life, a rebirth, a new creation, a resurrection. And that translates - as it happened with the son of the widow of Nain - into rebuilding our relationships with others. ("began to speak"): Lk 7:15).

Today there are many young people "in connection", but not so much "in communication". Many live in isolation, withdrawn into virtual worlds, without opening up to reality. And this - Francis warns - "it does not mean to despise technology, but to use it as a means, not as an end."

In short, it proposes: "'Arise' also means 'dream,' 'risk,' 'commit to change the world.'" To stand up means to be passionate about what is big, what is worthwhile. And great is "to become a witness for Christ and to lay down one's life for Him"..

The Pope concludes with what we could call million dollar question for young people: "What are your passions and your dreams?". He entrusts them to Mary, Mother of the Church: "For every one of her children who dies, the Church also dies, and for every child who rises again, she also rises again.".

Hope, trust in God, unity

"Bitterness in the life of the priest".was the theme of the Holy Father's address to the clergy of Rome (read by Cardinal De Donatis) on Thursday, February 27. While most priests are content with their lives and accept certain bitterness as part of life itself, Francis considers it interesting to reflect on the roots and solutions to these "bitternesses". This will make it easier to "look them in the face," touch our humanity and be able to better serve our mission. 

To help look at these roots, he divides them into three parts: in relation to the faith, to the bishops and to each other. 

In relation to faith, points out the need to distinguish between "expectations" and "hopes". The disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:21) were talking about their expectations, without realizing that "God is always greater" than our plans, and that his grace is the true protagonist of our lives (to inoculate us against all Pelagianism and Gnosticism). 

In our case," Francis points out, "perhaps we lack "dealing with God" and trust in Him, reminding us of ourselves: "God spoke to me and promised me on the day of ordination that mine will be a full life, with the fullness and taste of the Beatitudes." And for that it is necessary to listen not only to the history but also to accept - with the help of spiritual accompaniment - the realities of our life: "Things will be better not only because we change our superiors, or our mission, or our strategies, but because we will be comforted by the Word (of God)".

In relation to the bishopsOn the part of the bishop, the key is unity between the bishop and the priests. On the part of the bishop, in the exercise of authority as paternity, prudence, discernment and equity. In this way he will teach to believe, to hope and to love. 

In relation to othersFrancis promotes fraternity and loyalty, sharing while rejecting the spirit of caution and suspicion. Moreover, he points out, it requires a good management of solitude, necessary for contemplation, which is, around the Eucharist, the soul of the priestly ministry. But all this, without taking refuge in isolation; not isolating oneself from the grace of God (which leads to rationalism and sentimentalism) or from others: from history, from the "we" of God's holy and faithful people (which would lead to victimhood, the elixir of the devil), who expect us to be masters of the spirit, capable of pointing out wells of fresh water in the middle of the desert.

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