Pope Francis

Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives

The best way to dominate and gain control over people is to spread despair and discouragement, even under the guise of defending certain values. Today, in many countries, hyperbole, extremism and polarization have become political tools. Employing a strategy of ridicule, suspicion and relentless criticism, in a variety of ways one denies the right of others to exist or to have an opinion. Their share of the truth and their values are rejected and, as a result, the life of society is impoverished and subjected to the hubris of the powerful. Political life no longer has to do with healthy debates about long-term plans to improve people’s lives and to advance the common good, but only with slick marketing techniques primarily aimed at discrediting others. In this craven exchange of charges and counter-charges, debate degenerates into a permanent state of disagreement and confrontation.

Pope Francis, Fratelli Tutti n. 15

Pope Francis is right on the money here. No doubt this issue is worse in some countries than in others, and no doubt it has been bad in the past too, but it does feel like politics is generally degenerating. In the USA there is this current election, and here in the UK there was the Brexit campaign. No doubt, this problem is all over the globe (I don’t believe Pope Francis is that obsessed with the USA, and certainly not the UK).

I haven’t read far enough to know what Pope Francis proposes as a solution. My own modest proposal is we all a) chill out, and b) actually listen to our supposed opponents. We’ll then discover that they’re not the monsters we’ve made them out to be, and usually we can actually learn something.

The point of government and politics is for people to come together for a common cause. When politics works to divide people, it is working against its own true purpose. At that point, it is already corrupt, and seeking power alone.

What’s really ugly is when you see this kind of attitude with regards to the Church. People who don’t discuss things or deal with people respectfully, but just attack and slander every little thing, without taking the time to hear the person out. This is a grave sin. We should give all people a charitable hearing and look for the good in all they say and do as much as possible, but especially our brothers and sisters in the faith, and especially especially priests, Bishops and the Pope.

God bless you

Do you let his fire inflame your heart?

‘We need to remember that “contemplation of the face of Jesus, died and risen, restores our humanity, even when it has been broken by the troubles of this life or marred by sin. We must not domesticate the power of the face of Christ”. So let me ask you: Are there moments when you place yourself quietly in the Lord’s presence, when you calmly spend time with him, when you bask in his gaze? Do you let his fire inflame your heart? Unless you let him warm you more and more with his love and tenderness, you will not catch fire. How will you then be able to set the hearts of others on fire by your words and witness? If, gazing on the face of Christ, you feel unable to let yourself be healed and transformed, then enter into the Lord’s heart, into his wounds, for that is the abode of divine mercy.’
-Gaudete et Exsultate n. 151

No corner of our heart

‘Hope is a gift of God. We must ask for it. It is placed deep within each human heart in order to shed light on this life, so often troubled and clouded by so many situations that bring sadness and pain. We need to nourish the roots of our hope so that they can bear fruit; primarily, the certainty of God’s closeness and compassion, despite whatever evil we have done. There is no corner of our heart that cannot be touched by God’s love. Whenever someone makes a mistake, the Father’s mercy is all the more present, awakening repentance, forgiveness, reconciliation and peace.’

-Pope Francis

[Taken from Happiness In This Life: A Passionate Meditation On Material Existence And The Meaning Of Life]

You need to see the entirety of your life as a mission

‘This is a powerful summons to all of us. You too need to see the entirety of your life as a mission. Try to do so by listening to God in prayer and recognizing the signs that he gives you. Always ask the Spirit what Jesus expects from you at every moment of your life and in every decision you must make, so as to discern its place in the mission you have received. Allow the Spirit to forge in you the personal mystery that can reflect Jesus Christ in today’s world.’
Pope Francis, Gaudete et exsultate n. 23

God bless you!

Pope Francis reminds me of the Church Fathers

Pope Francis’ homilies remind me of the Church Fathers, such as St Basil, St Gregory the Great, and St John Chrysostom. Firstly, I think they all keep the good news as Jesus gave it to us, in its gratuitousness and its total demands. In today’s homily, the Pope called God a “loving and demanding Father”, and I think that captures a great deal. With all of the theological controversies of the past two millenia, sometimes it seems like orthodoxy is a balancing act (a Liberal Democrats sort of religion), when actually it’s more of a wild dance of extremities. And secondly, they are all happy to take creative liberties with interpreting Scripture. The stories in the scriptures are not taken as dead objects, but as part of a conversation with God, and so they continuously open up in new and unexpected ways. They allow God Himself to elaborate. A small example is last week, Francis said the lamps of the ten virgins is faith, and the oil is charity.

I especially recommend reading the Pope’s homily for today, which is what prompted me to think this. It’s powerful stuff.

If only more would preach this way.

God bless you