Pope Francis on Humility

Photo by Gilly Stewart on Unsplash

via the Vatican:

The humble allow themselves to be challenged. They are open to what is new, since they feel secure in what has gone before them, firm in their roots and their sense of belonging. Their present is grounded in a past that opens them up to a hope-filled future. Unlike the proud, they know that their existence is not based on their merits or their “good habits”. As such, they are able to trust, unlike the proud.

All of us are called to humility, because all of us are called to remember and to give life. We are called to find a right relationship with our roots and our branches. Without those two things, we become sick, destined to disappear.

Jesus, who came into the world by the path of humility, has opened a way for us; he indicates a way and shows us a goal.

Dear brothers and sisters, without humility we cannot encounter God and experience salvation, yet it is equally true that without humility we cannot even encounter our neighbours, our brothers and sisters next door.


Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “Life is a time for making decisive, eternal choices. Trivial choices lead to a trivial life; great choices to a life of greatness. In fact, we become what we choose. If we choose God, we grow daily in his love, and if we choose to love others, we find true happiness.


Christmas Hope in a Time of Despair

Photo by Gareth Harper on Unsplash

Michael Gerson writes:

Many in our country have lost the simple confidence that better days are ahead, for a variety of understandable reasons. There are the coronavirus’s false dawns, followed by new fears. There are rising prices and empty store shelves, as if in Soviet Romania. There is Afghanistan, descending into man-made catastrophe. There are increases in urban violence. And deeply embedded racial injustice. And an environment buckling under terrible strains. Everything seems crying out in chaotic chorus: Things are not getting better.

That spirit possesses our politics. The right sees a country in cultural decline, stripped of its identify and values. The left fears we are moving toward a new American authoritarianism. Both are ideologies of prophesied loss. In a society, such resentments easily become septic. So many otherwise irenic people seem captured by the politics of the clenched fist. A portion seem to genuinely wish some of their neighbors humiliation and harm.

Under such circumstances, it can feel impossible to sustain hope….

No matter how we react to the historicity of each element, however, the Nativity presents the inner reality of God’s arrival.

He is a God who goes to ridiculous lengths to seek us.

He is a God who chose the low way: power in humility; strength perfected in weakness; the last shall be first; blessed are the least of these.

He is a God who was cloaked in blood and bone and destined for human suffering — which he does not try to explain to us, but rather just shares. It is perhaps the hardest to fathom: the astounding vulnerability of God.

And he is a God of hope, who offers a different kind of security than the fulfillment of our deepest wishes. He promises a transformation of the heart in which we release the burden of our desires, and live in expectation of God’s unfolding purposes, until all his mercies stand revealed….

On Christmas, we consider the disorienting, vivid evidence that hope wins. If true, it is a story that can reorient every human story. It means that God is with us, even in suffering. It is the assurance, as from a parent, as from an angel, as from a savior: It is okay. And even at the extreme of death (quoting Julian of Norwich): “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”


Quote of the Day

Pope Francis: “God never tires of waiting for us. When we turn away, He comes to look for us; when we fall, He picks us up; when we return to Him after losing our way, He waits for us with open arms. His love always gives us the courage to start anew.”


Pope Francs on How We Can Respond to the Retreat from Democracy

Photo by Anna Kurmaeva on Unsplash

via the Vatican:

Here man first became conscious of being “a political animal” (cf. ARISTOTLE, Politics, I, 2) and, as members of the community, began to see others not subjects but as fellow citizens, with whom to work together in organizing the polis. Here democracy was born. That cradle, thousands of years later, was to become a house, a great house of democratic peoples. I am speaking of the European Union and the dream of peace and fraternity that it represents for so many peoples.

Yet we cannot avoid noting with concern how today, and not only in Europe, we are witnessing a retreat from democracy. Democracy requires participation and involvement on the part of all; consequently, it demands hard work and patience. It is complex, whereas authoritarianism is peremptory and populism’s easy answers appear attractive. In some societies, concerned for security and dulled by consumerism, weariness and malcontent can lead to a sort of skepticism about democracy. Yet universal participation is something essential; not simply to attain shared goals, but also because it corresponds to what we are: social beings, at once unique and interdependent.

At the same time, we are also witnessing a skepticism about democracy provoked by the distance of institutions, by fear of a loss of identity, by bureaucracy. The remedy is not to be found in an obsessive quest for popularity, in a thirst for visibility, in a flurry of unrealistic promises or in adherence to forms of ideological colonization, but in good politics. For politics is, and ought to be in practice, a good thing, as the supreme responsibility of citizens and as the art of the common good. So that the good can be truly shared, particular attention, I would even say priority, should be given to the weaker strata of society. This is the direction to take. One of Europe’s founding fathers indicated it as an antidote to the polarizations that enliven democracy, but also risk debilitating it. As he said: “There is much talk of who is moving left or right, but the decisive thing is to move forward, and to move forward means to move towards social justice” (A. DE GASPERI, Address in Milan, 23 April 1949)….

From partisanship to participation. This what should motivate our actions on a variety of fronts. I think of the climate, the pandemic, the common market and, above all, the widespread forms of poverty. These are challenges that call for concrete and active cooperation. The international community needs this, in order to open up paths of peace through a multilateralism that will not end up being stifled by excessive nationalistic demands. Politics needs this, in order to put common needs ahead of private interests….

I would like to encourage once again a global, communitarian vision with regard to the issue of migration, and to urge that attention be paid to those in greatest need, so that, in proportion to each country’s means, they will be welcomed, protected, promoted and integrated, in full respect for their human rights and dignity. Rather than a present obstacle, this represents a guarantee for a future marked by peaceful coexistence with all those who increasingly are forced to flee in search of a new home and new hope….

God readily sets his signature on human freedom, always and everywhere. It is his greatest gift to us, the gift that, in turn, he values most from us. For God created us to be free, and what most pleases him is that, in freedom, we love him and our neighbour. Laws exist to help make this possible, but also training in responsibility and the growth of a culture of respect.


Pope Francis: Don’t Be Afraid of Doubts

Photo by Jack Sharp on Unsplash

via the Vatican:

I want to say to you and to everyone here: don’t be afraid of doubts, because they are not a sign of the lack of faith. Don’t be afraid of doubts. On the contrary, doubts are “vitamins of faith”: they help strengthen faith and make it more robust. They enable faith to grow, to become more conscious, free and mature. They make it more eager to set out, to persevere with humility, day after day. Faith is precisely that: a daily journey with Jesus who takes us by the hand, accompanies us, encourages us, and, when we fall, lifts us up. He is never afraid to do this. Faith is like a love story, where we press forward together, day after day. Like a love story too, there are times when we have to think, to face questions, to look into our hearts. And that is good, because it raises the quality of the relationship! This is very important for you, because you cannot travel the path of faith blind, no; instead, dialogue with God, with your conscience and with others….

Wonder, amazement, is the beginning not only of philosophy, but also of our faith. Frequently the Gospel tells us that when people encountered Jesus, they were amazed. In the encounter with God, amazement is always present, for it is the beginning of dialogue with God. And the reason is because faith is not primarily about a list of things to believe and rules to follow. In the deepest sense, faith is not an idea or a system of morality, but a reality, a beautiful truth that does not depend on us and that leaves us amazed: we are God’s beloved children! This is what faith is in its deepest sense: we are God’s beloved children! We are beloved children because we have a Father who watches over us and who never stops loving us. Think about this: whatever you may think or do, even the worst things possible, God continues to love you.  I want you to understand this well: God never tires of loving….

Nowadays, we risk forgetting who we are, becoming obsessed with appearances, bombarded with messages that make life depend on what we wear, the car we drive, how others see us… Yet those ancient words – know thyself – remain valid today. Realize that your worth is in who you are and not what you have. Your worth is not in the brand of the dress or shoes you wear, but because you are unique.

 


Advent Lessons on Patience from Henri Nouwen

Photo by KaLisa Veer on Unsplash

Millennial Catholic Jonathan Lewis writes:

Waiting can be painful, especially when it feels forced upon us due to COVID-19.

The spiritual writer Father Henri Nouwen speaks into this pandemic moment, pointing out that “increasingly in our society we feel we have less and less influence on the decisions that affect our own existence. Therefore it becomes increasingly important to recognize that the largest part of our existence involves waiting in the sense of being acted upon. The life of Jesus tells us that not being in control is part of the human condition. His vocation and ours are fulfilled not just in action but also in passion, waiting.”

Father Nouwen observes that the spiritual practice of patient waiting is a prerequisite to recognizing and receiving God’s presence….

A spirituality of waiting is not passive; it is active spiritual work to become more attentive to the quiet voice of God….

Mary’s fiat (“may it be done to me according to your word”) in the face of shame and difficulty reveals her radical vulnerability and openness to God. She did not hope in herself or her own predetermined plans and dreams, but trusted in God’s plan that was beyond her vision.

Mary teaches us that a spirituality of waiting is hopeful, daring to see beyond our own imagination….

This Advent, in the midst of suffering in our daily lives, the distractions of Christmas preparations or the mourning of loved ones not gathered around our table, we are called to be people of hope, “living with the conviction that God molds us in love, holds us in tenderness and moves us away from the sources of our fear. Our spiritual life is a life in which we wait, actively present to the moment, expecting that new things will happen to us, new things that are far beyond our own imagination or prediction.”