“Francis, go and rebuild my Church”.
Francis of Assisi (1181- 1226) heard a voice saying this to him, when he was praying in a little chapel that nearly felt in ruin. He had lived a life of debauchery, spending the money of his rich and wealthy father on parties, with women and his friends and not caring for the people around him. After having been wounded in a war he was bound to his sickbed where he received a vision of Jesus that changed his life completely. Francis embraced poverty, simplicity and humility and attracted many fellow men to live a life according to the gospel. He renewed the Church, not only the little chapel where he heard the voice, but the entire Church of his time. The Church became again what Jesus wanted it to be: a Church of the poor, a Church that lives in the joy of being close to the people, a Church that is welcoming and warmhearted to the sick, the marginalized, the little once.
Pope Francis through his life and preaching is showing again what the Church needs in our time to be attractive, convincing and true. Are we taking the challenge?
He called the cardinals, the bishops and priest to have the smell of the people, to be near to them, to have an ear and heart for their needs. Only if the Church, the members of the Church, especially the clergy live a life that corresponds to the preaching of Jesus and the values of the Gospel it can survive in time of secularism and materialism. Many Catholics that have received a poor knowledge of the doctrine and Catechism are attracted in our days by Pentecostal Churches, by their way of singing, of preaching, of being united and close to the people. These people are looking for instant solutions without the cross: instant healing, instant prosperity, instant wealth and heaven without suffering. This is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Nevertheless many Christians often see the Catholic Church living in distance to the people; the priests are living in nice, big Father-houses; driving nice, big cars, eating and dressing well; doing their business; having no time and interest for the people. Many faithful who are living in poverty often feel squeezed like oranges by first, second and third collections, by appeals for donations and contributions. The church is in danger to be ruled only by the influence of the rich and wealthy people in the parishes. We need to cry Alarm!!!
“Francis, go and renew my Church”.
This call is addressed to all of us. How do we convince people to follow Jesus Christ, to embrace him as the savior, the healer, the master of our life in accepting the whole of the Gospel?
The beatitudes that we present in this edition are a program for happiness and a way to life to the full. Is it a possible way for you?
Find some thoughts of Pope Francis in his interview and his homilies and try to understand the challenges for the Catholic Church today. Faith is a gift from God, but we need to be open to it. j
We wish you a happy and fruitful reading and our greetings of the season.
Yours in Christ and Saint Vincent Pallotti.
Fr. Peter Hillen SAC