Thursday, 17 October 2013

a short, muddled post before James loses patience with his mama

Of all the endless things to love about Pope Francis, one of my favorites is that the man speaks plain English (in Italian, of course). I don't need to reread every sentence multiple times, consulting amateur philosophers, just to check that I am ticking the boxes of basic reading comprehension. In his homilies and his interviews, his words are so simple and so true.  The observations he makes strike me as plainly obvious - even though many of them are either brand-new thoughts to me or things I only vaguely grasped but never fully understood. Pope Francis has a clear and sometimes surprising grasp on what is  really important. And what is more important. And what is most important.  

Below are some condensed quotes I love from his homily this morning (with some points I plan to use for personal reflection). Pope Francis was preaching about how easily a Christian can slip from "having faith" to "having an ideology" - and how there is a massive difference between following Jesus and being a Christian.  These words are like daggers to my heart. I love them. 

"...Ideology does not beckon [people]. In ideologies there is not Jesus: his tenderness, his love, his meekness. And ideologies are rigid, always. At every sign: rigid. And when a Christian becomes a disciple of the ideology, he has lost the faith: he is no longer a disciple of Jesus, he is a disciple of this attitude of thought…" 
-Is my witness to Christ beckoning people? Who? (if anyone) 
-Who, if anyone, has it failed to beckon? Could a lack of tenderness, love or meekness on my part explain the failure?
-Where in my faith am I rigid? Where was Jesus himself rigid? Do these two answers align?
-In witnessing to others, is the uppermost goal of my heart to move them to behave in a more "Christian"
 manner OR is it to help them to truly know Jesus and His mercy, love and goodness?

“...Ideology frightens. Ideology chases away the people. It creates distances between people and it distances the Church from the people. But it is a serious illness, this ideology in Christians.....But why is it that a Christian can become like this? Just one thing: this Christian does not pray." 
-Can I remember times where the religious or political ideology of others has repelled me? Other than the possibility that I simply did not agree, was there something else repugnant about mere ideology? What was it?
-What symptoms of the illness of "Christian ideology" do I exhibit? (If I do not know the answer to this question, why don't I know it? And how can I learn the answer?)

“When a Christian does not pray, this happens. And his witness is an arrogant witness. He who does not pray is arrogant, is proud, is sure of himself. He is not humble.” 
“It is one thing to pray, and another thing to say prayers.”  
-Am I praying
-Am I praying to the heart of Jesus? Am I reading Scripture daily in a way that truly helps me to know His heart?
-Do I know the pitfalls in the way I personally witness to others? 
-Am I more focused on what others (Jesus, the Pope, mentors) are teaching me about authentically following Christ or am I more preoccupied with how I can explicitly teach/correct others?  
-Am I asking Jesus to show me the ways in which I drive others away from Him? Am I receptive when other people hint about or tell me this information themselves? 

I think this is important stuff to reflect on. The Pope is basically working with those of us who think we are The Religious Ones and telling us, "Look, your intentions are good but your execution stinks." So far he's put a good deal of his time and energy into teaching us how to be more effective, more genuine disciples. His major points are deceptively simple:  Comfort is the enemy - we need to accept our share of suffering; Don't get so lost in the "issues" that the Church is up against - remember the persons whom she is not "against"; Face up to your own materialism - and get rid of it;  etc...

I started thinking through the answers to some of those reflection questions above as I was writing them; I'll sit with the rest later tonight.....and the not-so-humble part of me is SUPER glad that I won't be putting the fruit of all that reflection up on a blog for all to see!   :)


  1. Kelly, this is such a good post. Our pope is challenging and authentic. Praise the Lord!

  2. Kelly - ahh like all of your posts, they reach the very core of my soul and nudge me when I need nudging. God Bless