Great Commentary on Recent Pope Francis’ Interviews

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Both of Pope Francis’ recent interviews have caused significant waves through the Catholic Church and the secular media.  Nearly everyone has an opinion on his perspective, style, and content.   Below is a link to an article written by Carl E. Olson for The Catholic World Report which presents a very balanced and thoughtful look at the Holy Father’s comments.  Feel free to respond to the article in the comments section or under the original article.

Pope Francis: The Good, the Baffling, and the Unclear by Carl E. Olson

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A Seminarian’s Take on Pope Francis

Pope Francis Crowd by Dan Westermann

One of the great blessings of preparing for the Priesthood in the Eternal City, is the opportunity to remain so close to the Holy Father. This last year provided a unique blessing to be present at the election of Pope Francis on Wednesday, March 13. The structure of the Conclave guarantees that two times every day, smoke will be released from the small chimney above the Sistine Chapel.  Before Wednesday, I had been present for the previous two times when the black smoke was released. That evening, we had our communal praying of vespers moved forward so that the seminarians could be in St. Peter’s Square in case anything happened. I was waiting about halfway back, next to the large obelisk in the middle of the piazza, with one of my classmates and two of the fifth-year priests from the American College. Because of the rain, everyone had umbrellas up and out, which made it difficult to see the screens showing the close-up on the chimney. Right around seven o’clock, gray smoke started to pour forth from the opening. A similar shade was seen at the start of the previous night’s burning of ballots. I remarked to one of the priests, “Oh, it’s going to turn black again…” But then I heard a gasp in the crowd and he shouted back, “It’s white!” The four of us all shouted back and forth in disbelief, “It’s white, it’s white!” As the excitement grew we made our way, with the other few thousand people in the square, as close as possible to the balcony. The next hour was filled with shouts of, “Viva il Papa! Long live the Pope!” although no one yet knew who had been elected. As Pope Francis made his way onto the Loggia, everyone cheered with excitement. The love of the crowd for this one man was palpable, we were just waiting for some sign of affection back. As they finally brought forward the microphone, the simple inflection of his voice in his greeting, “Buonasera!” (Good evening) was enough to win the hearts of everyone in the piazza.

Two things really stuck out from that night: first was the incredible diversity of the Church.  I can’t imagine any other event in the world where you could find people of every age, coming from every continent, excited about one man. It was a clear sign of why the Church Fathers always pointed to the Pope as the “source of Unity” of the Church. The other thing was Francis’ incredible humility in taking on this role. When he asked the crowd to pray that the Lord would bless him, one could hear a pin-drop in the square. The presence of the Spirit was palpable as everyone interceded for our new Father.

Now after a few months of his service, many people are still interested in what this unique Papa Americano is up to. Regarding the New Evangelization, I think Francis can help us to see one crucial aspect to witnessing to the Truth: that is simplicity. The many stories about his simple ways in Argentina spread like wildfire, and now he has even forgone moving into the Papal apartments. His life of incredible simplicity, while definitely drawing attention of many outside the Church, has really been shaking things up within Her walls. He is calling the whole Church to a life of poverty, where our one treasure is Jesus Christ. As we surrender more and more to a radical simplicity, imitating our Holy Father Francis, I think that we will begin to see a great flourishing of evangelization. People will see the great witness of Catholics who do not store up treasure here on earth, but treasure in heaven, and they will not help but question, “What is different here?” The answer is simple: our treasure is Christ. The deeper that we are drawn in our relationship with Christ, the more that we are able to rely on him for everything and the more that we recognize the fleetingness of so much of what the world offers us.

May the example of Pope Francis challenge us to grow in simplicity and a love for the poor. To our great Holy Father, ad multos annos!

More Quotes from Lumen Fidei

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More quotes from Pope Francis’ Lumen Fidei, I still highly recommend reading the entire thing.

“Faith is linked to hearing. Abraham does not see God, but hears his voice. Faith thus takes on a personal aspect. God is not the god of a particular place, or a deity linked to specific sacred time, but the God of a person, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, capable of interacting with man and establishing a covenant with him. Faith is our response to a word which engages us personally, to a “Thou” who calls us by name.” #8
“As Saint Augustine explains: “Man is faithful when he believes in God and his promises; God is faithful when he grants to man what he has promised” #10
“Faith by its very nature demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time. Martin Buber once cited a definition of idolatry proposed by the rabbi of Kock: idolatry is “when a face addresses a face which is not a face” #13
“Faith is God’s free gift, which calls for humility and the courage to trust and to entrust; it enables us to see the luminous path leading to the encounter of God and humanity: the history of salvation.”#14

Quotes from Lumen Fidei

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As I continue to read through Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis’ first encyclical, I thought that I could, over the next few days,  post some quotes that particularly struck me.  Hopefully these quotes will inspire a more detailed reading of the entire text since it is a true gift to the Church.  Click here for the entire text.

“Faith was thus understood either as a leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion, or as a subjective light, capable perhaps of warming the heart and bringing personal consolation, but not something which could be proposed to others as an objective and shared light which points the way… As a result, humanity renounced the search for a great light, Truth itself, in order to be content with smaller lights which illumine the fleeting moment yet prove incapable of showing the way. Yet in the absence of light everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.” #3

“The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful cannot come from ourselves but from a more primordial source: in a word, it must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.” #4

Pope Quote: The Charismatic Movement

“We talked about the statistics regarding Pentecostals with the bishops on Brazil in a meeting yesterday. I’ll tell you something about the Charismatic Movement … at the end of the ’70s and in the ’80s, I wasn’t a big fan. I used to say they confused the holy liturgy with a school of samba. I was converted when I got to know them better and saw the good they do. In this moment of the life of the church, the movements are necessary. They’re a grace of the Spirit, and in general, they do much good for the church. The charismatic renewal movement isn’t just about winning back a few Pentecostals, but it serves the church and its renewal.” – Pope Francis

Disciples in the Marketplace

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This past Saturday, i.d.916, together with the Ann Arbor chapter of Legatus, held our first annual conference, Disciples in the Marketplace, at the Inn at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI. It was a rousing success. We praise the Lord for his guidance and His Spirit that gave such tremendous life to the event.  The event was attended by approximately 90 young adults from Iowa, Canada and all over Southeastern Michigan–ranging from lawyers, medical professionals, IT specialists, teachers, and those in career transitions. In large part, the success of the event was due to the professionals who came to mentor the young adults. We were blessed to have around 20 successful, seasoned professionals from a wide array of fields impart to us their wisdom about how to be faithful followers of Jesus in whatever marketplace we find ourselves.

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We heard talks and presentations from Bishop Michael Byrnes from the Archdiocese of Detroit, Deacon Larry Oney from New Orleans and a variety of others. In addition, we also had fourteen discussion groups in which we explored the realities of living as a disciple. We closed the day with a casual hour of mingling, networking and face-to-face time. Though the day was jam-packed, it was a very productive, fruitful and encouraging time to band together as Catholics, meet new people and discuss a very important aspect of our lives.

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As the day concluded, we had the attendees fill out evaluations.  Here is what few of them had to say:

“My experience at this event will dramatically change my work life and my discipleship.”

“Inspiring and challenging – like God is asking more of me.”

“Left wanting more of this!”

“Well worth a beautiful Saturday.”

Thank you to all who helped make this event possible.  May the Lord continue to guide and bless us all as we walk in His Spirit.