Pilgrimage with Pope Francis – Two days, two thoughts

Photo credit: Michelle Francl © Used with permission

Photo credit: Michelle Francl © Used with permission

Doing this blogging has been great, but it has been a bit like a marathon. By missing a day, I am now combining two days worth of material, but they are connected. Hey, we’re Catholics – everything is connected. And Pope Francis really embodies that sense of the connection of all creation.

Speaking to the Bishops, Pope Francis was very clear:

The pope said pastors must resist the temptation to say things were better in the old days and be willing to engage people where they are, not blame them for the way things are today.

“Are today’s young people hopelessly timid, weak, inconsistent? We must not fall into this trap,” Francis said.

Then this:

The pope called on bishops to move away from stale denunciations about the state of the world, and instead engage with young people.

“We need to invest our energies not so much in rehearsing the problems of the world around us and the merits of Christianity, but in extending a sincere invitation to young people to be brave and to opt for marriage and the family,” Francis said.

In his final homily in the US today, our Holy Father spoke about the Sunday readings and Gospel with great skill, pointing out how the readings pointed to leaving others out, supposedly because they were not in the “in crowd.”

“Jesus encountered hostility from people who did not accept what he said and did. For them, his openness to the honest and sincere faith of many men and women who were not part of God’s chosen people seemed intolerable.”

And then he said this:

“Anyone who wants to bring into this world a family which teaches children to be excited by every gesture aimed at overcoming evil – a family which shows that the Spirit is alive and at work – will encounter our gratitude and our appreciation. Whatever the family, people, region, or religion to which they belong!”

What do all these things have to do with one another and what do they have to do with us and our prayer? Well – perhaps God is asking something of us as well. In fact, God is always asking something of us!

Let us pray for one another and pray together to be open to the Spirit, especially in regard to change. As a people (guilty as charged, I do it all the time) who are known to sit in the same seat every week, we Catholics are not always change-positive.  As was said – what is God asking of us?

In that regard, looking over our shoulders to the past has a way of perfecting what was. The problem with that is we might often hold up a past that never was. And even if it was, that was then, this is now, and God is in this moment.

Are we resistant to different people, thoughts, ideas, voices? For example, is Pope Francis a challenge, with his focus on the poor, immigrants, and so forth? For some of us he is a big challenge. Taking it to another level, who annoys us the most in life? Our co-worker or neighbor or a relative? What might that person have to teach us if we were to stop turning away?

And to really hit his point about “young people” and their wanton ways, not going to church and so forth, not to mention the tendency to “blame” many of these changes on “them” and their generation… We must stop if we do this. None of that will invite them to church, in fact, it will have (it HAS) many people of many ages fleeing.

The Eucharist is a celebration, a meal – let’s sit with someone we don’t know or don’t like, let’s invite someone instead of shaking our head or wagging our finger. God might surprise us. Can we pray for one another about this?

This also touches on the first part of the second set of quotes – who is “in” and who is “out?” If God is present in all of us, and whether we realize it or not, God is indeed present in all of us, if someone imitates Christ, even if they don’t do it “our way” are they any less valid? Look at Jesus, he hung around with the outsiders from the fringes. And yet we tend to reject those at the fringes.

Finally that last thought – about willingness to commit and bring children into this world. Yet, we might criticize those who have children and seem like unworthy “outsiders.” See, this is all connected. If people are pursuing family commitment, let us try to help them, not scrutinize and reject them. Can we pray for one another and about that?

We have a lot to pray with, don’t we? Pilgrimage is never easy, the road is long, arduous, going up and down, difficult in some places, easy in others, seemingly impossible at certain turns. Yet together we go. Let us pray, let us try to open the doors to our hearts, let us see what God can surprise us with – if we let God do so.

We will finish up with a summary post on Tuesday or Wednesday.

(Please feel free to share this post. If you wish, use our parish hashtag for this week’s posts, #StECPPope when sharing!)



1 Comment

Filed under Pope Francis, Pope Francis Visit 2015

One response to “Pilgrimage with Pope Francis – Two days, two thoughts

  1. In the world of science education one metaphor is pumps and filters. We can help move people up the pipeline toward work in science — be pumps — or we can act as filters, barricading out anyone we are in the least unsure of. Francis is calling us to act as pumps, to greet people with warmth rather than derision or discouragement.