Thursday, 14 March 2013

Let us not pigeonhole Pope Francis: The Poor Man of Assisi Shunned all Worldly Definitions

St Francis of Assisi could not be pigeonholed. Instead, he flew to Heaven!
We have a Pope.

His name is Francis.

The name of Francis conjures up, immediately, the person and figure of St Francis of Assisi.

We who prayed and cried out to the Lord for a man after His own heart as Chief Shepherd are astonished by the choice of Successor to St Peter. Who is this man? Few, if any of us, have even heard of him!

If the new Pope is to be for the Church of Rome a great reformer, a man of faith, a humble and zealous missionary in the mold of Francis of Assisi, then we are in for a truly spectacular and astonishing pontificate.

To speak of St Francis is to speak of a way that is new. It is to speak of a way that few, if any, even think of. It is to speak of a return to the apostolic simplicity and humility of the Apostles called by the Lord Jesus who called us to forget ourselves, lay down our lives and serve our brothers and sisters in need. To speak of Francis of Assisi, is to also speak of a man who himself refused to be pigeonholed and who refused and shunned the 'way of the World' for the way of Christ Jesus, Who is 'the Way, the Truth and the Life'. In choosing such a name, that makes people immediately think of the poor man of Assisi, the 'new breed of simpleton', the 'fool for Christ', Pope Francis is choosing a model such as this for his pontificate, is an inspired choice indeed!

If Pope Francis is to modelled on the poverello, good times lay ahead
For a long, long time, the Catholic Church has been looking inside itself. Divisions, heresies and internal strife, marked greatly by human corruption have scarred Her. In such times, as we Catholics write reams of words about the liturgy and the fallout of the 'spirit of the Council' with all the errors that has brought, think little of how the Catholic Church must appear to those outside of Her and to whom She must seem far more black, than beautiful.

If ever there was a time when the World needed a new Francis, this is that time. If Pope Francis is to model himself on Francis of Assisi (or St Francis Xavier) then this, truly, will see the great humbling of the Catholic Church that the Church is desperately in need of. God has taken us all by surprise and let us exclaim to God our wonder and awe of His Providence, since His ways are not our ways, our thoughts unlike His own! We had anticipated, or hoped, or worse, expected, a Pope whose reign would see the return of the Papal tiara and the glory and power of the Papacy would shine out from Vatican City in splendour and majesty. But what have we been given? We have been given a man of humble service. A man who is close to the poor and to the broken-hearted. We have been given a man whose paternal heart goes out to the oppressed, the rejected and marginalised. This is a good thing!

St Francis of Assisi receives the stigmata of his pierced and Risen Lord
The time for divisions within the Church has ceased. The time for the rampant internal, insular self-obsession of the Church has come, we pray, to a close. Let us follow Christ. Let us follow Francis for here is a way that is new.

There is a way out of the unbridled mess that human sin has brought the Church into. There is a way. It is a way of true penitence. There is a way. It is the way of love. There is a way, it is the way of Christ, the tender Shepherd. There is a way. It is the way of Francis! People want to know what Christianity looks like, but the lapsed and those outside of the Church will not see what Christianity looks like in a Church, since they will not go there. We need to gather in unity with Peter to show the World what Christianity looks like. If we show the World what Christianity looks like, the World will be drawn to the love of our Saviour. What does Christianity look like? It looks like Jesus Christ. It looks like Francis, who was revered and honoured in the Church so highly that not only did the reigning Pope of his time kiss his hands and feet, but he was known as a Saint who followed his Saviour so closely and so perfectly as to be like a 'second Christ'.

If the new Pope is to be seen touring the World kissing the feet of social lepers, washing the feet of the poor and setting an example to all of His Holiness's flock of how to be a Christian then there is a true springtime ahead for God's holy Church. Let us pray for His Holiness with boundless love and affection and pledge our loyalty and obedience to the Successor of St Peter. Let us listen attentively to what the Holy Father will say to us and, more importantly, what the Holy Father will ask of us!

There is a way out of the Church's crisis. It is the way of poverty, humble love, compassion, missionary zeal and love for Jesus that manifests itself in closeness to the poor, abandoned and despised of this World. It is the way out of sin and darkness and into the glorious light of Salvation. It is the way of Jesus. It is the way of St Francis. Let us pray for our beloved Pope. May those who do not yet love His Holiness be given the grace to pray for a superabundance of supernatural love for the Successor of St Peter. Let us go out into the World, preaching repentance, preaching Christ Crucified, bringing holy joy to all the nations. Where there is discord, let us sow unity! Where there is error, let us sow truth. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is darkness, let us bring light. Where there is hatred, let us sow love!

Don't pigeonhole the new Pope. St Francis of Assisi refused to be pigeonholed. He was too holy and too innocent, too in love with Jesus Christ for the World's definitions. He refused to be pigeonholed. He flew to Heaven instead. Words. Words. So many words! Now is the time for action. Now is the time of salvation. Now is the time for love. This is the acceptable time. Now is the time for Francis, for 'what earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us.'

Let us go out, like Francis, and preach the good news to all the nations.


Anonymous said...

Good post...just a pity that the Franciscans did not practise what St. Francis preached.
As is sometimes said among my friends: " The Franciscans take the vow of poverty and we, who don't take the vow, keep it"

Genty said...

I'm glad you wrote this. There's been far too much knee-jerk reaction so far. We've no idea yet how this pontificate will run. We'll get a clear idea once Pope Francis starts making his appointments.
We must pray to the Holy Spirit to give him the spiritual strength needed to confront the negative issues in the Church. My additonal prayer is that he will keep the Nuncio in place.

The Bones said...

We need love and loyalty to Peter.

Not love and loyalty to the mere concept of Peter.

Roses and Jessamine said...

St. Francis of Assisi is one of the most wonderful saints of all time, no doubt. But we must not assume His Holiness, the new Bishop of Rome, has chosen that name for that reason - there is also St. Francis Xavier, St. Francesco Fogolla, St. Francis Borgia, and a whole host of other saint Frances. We have not yet been told why he chose the name of Francis. Let's wait for him to tell us.

epsilon said...

Great posts, Laurence! I'm disgusted at the attitude of the liturgical snobs - they're showing themselves up to the extent that you have to say is it any wonder they haven't achieved their so-called aims?! They never wanted a reform of the liturgy for the whole Church - they too much want to be part of an exclusive club - shame! It's so sad for the few genuine ones:(

Anonymous said...

Those of us who prefer reverence in our Liturgies are NOT "Liturgical Snobs" We want dignity in reverence in our Masses which under John Paul II were very mediocre. What Benedict did was introduce the "Reform of the Reform" HOW WE PRAY IS WHAT WE BELIEVE. It does matter what the Pope does liturgically because of his role as High Priest. Remember this Pope was made a priest in 1969 after the New Rite of Mass started.

Unknown said...

Hi, could I please ask where you got the photo of the pigeons?



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