Pope Francis: “Our deepest joy comes from Christ: remaining with him, walking with him, being his disciples.”
Reading Henri Nouwen’s Bread for the Journey, I was struck by the parallels found in his short reflections and Pope Francis’ big themes: the importance of mercy, presence, joy, and being a church of the poor. These themes are deeply rooted in the actions and teachings of Christ. Here are some of my favorites from Nouwen’s book, which offers a short reflection for each day of the year:
- Let’s not forget the preciousness and vulnerability of life during the times we are powerful, successful, and popular.
- The great temptation is to cling in anger to our enemies and then define ourselves as being offended and wounded by them. Forgiveness, therefore, liberates not only the other but also ourselves.
- Strange as it may sound, we can choose joy.
- We want to hear, “I’ve been thinking of you today,” or “I missed you,” or “I wish you were here,” or “I really love.” It is not always easy to say these words, but such words can deepen our bonds with one another.
- As John the Evangelist writes, “Perfect love drives out fear” (I John 4:18). Jesus’ central message is that God loves us with an unconditional love and desires our love, free from all fear, in return.
- Love is eternal…When we die, we will lose everything that life gave us except love…It is the divine, indestructible core of our being.
- To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.
- When we truly enjoy God’s unlimited generosity, we will be grateful for what our brothers and sisters receive. Jealousy will simply have no place in our hearts.
- When the Church is no longer a church for the poor, it loses its spiritual identity. It gets caught up in disagreements, jealousy, power games, and pettiness.
- Those who are marginal in the world are central in the Church, and that is how it is supposed to be! Thus we are called as members of the Church to keep going to the margins of our society. The homeless, the starving, parentless children, people with AIDS, our emotionally disturbed brothers and sisters—they require our first attention.
- Being with a person in pain, offering simple presence to someone in despair, sharing with a friend times of confusion and uncertainty…such experiences can bring us deep joy. Not happiness, not excitement, not great satisfaction, but the quiet joy of being there for someone else and living in deep solidarity with our brothers and sisters in this human family.
- When people say of us, “See how they love on another,” they catch a glimpse of the Kingdom of God that Jesus announced and are drawn to it as a magnet.
Pope Francis: “What zest life acquires when we allow ourselves to be filled by the love of God!”
Pope Francis: “Dear young people, Jesus gives us life, life in abundance. If we are close to him we will have joy in our hearts and a smile on our face.”
Check out these recent articles from around the web:
Pope Francis and the argument for compassionate capitalism by Michael Gerson: “In ‘The Joy of the Gospel,’ Francis returns to the defining theme of his papacy: the priority of the person. Human beings have an essential value and nature. They can’t be reduced to economic objects or to the sum of their desires.”
Rescuing the Pro-Life Cause by Michael Sean Winters, NCR: “If we on the Catholic Left who care, and care deeply, about the tragedy of abortion, if we do not stand up with greater vigor and frequency, we will abandon the issue to the wingnuts. The pro-life cause deserves better. The political Left deserves better. The unborn children deserve better.”
Is Capitalism “Intrinsically Disordered”? by Michael Sean Winters, NCR: “An additional difficulty is the real challenge for all of us who have not joined the laissez-faire brigade to disentangle ourselves from the tentacles of the market.”
My History; Our Nation’s Future by Tom Roberts: “I don’t usually don’t go in for fasting. I don’t have that kind of discipline. But this one gave me an opportunity to join in solidarity, however briefly, with brothers and sisters who face the hardship of leaving their homelands for opportunity, to provide for their families, to seek the same kind of changes that drove my own grandparents to emigrate.”
The Central African Republic needs our help by Michael Gerson: “Apart from the essential task of protecting civilians from murder, the most important intervention may come in urging CAR religious leaders to reduce tensions — to calm the paranoia on both sides and encourage trust.”
Like Pope Francis? You’ll love Jesus by Elizabeth Tenety: “But woe to those who remake the pope in their own image. If you focus only on what you like about Francis’s papacy — whatever makes you feel comfortable and smug about your own religious and political convictions — you’re doing it wrong. And you’re not seeing the real Francis.”
The Terrifying First Christmas by Matt Emerson, America: “A mix of joy and confusion, happiness and worry. This is the first Christmas. Can we today recover some of its dramatic impact? Can we let it reveal something of our inner thoughts and renew our passion for conversion?”
Cardinal O’Malley calls on Congress to support food stamps by Joshua McElwee, NCR: “As Catholics around the world joined in Tuesday for a day of prayer to eradicate world hunger, Boston’s Cardinal Seán O’Malley said the U.S. government should not pursue cuts to food stamp programs.”
Five Chinese daughters speak up for their fathers by Fred Hiatt: “Wang was one of five daughters of Chinese prisoners of conscience who testified Thursday before a subcommittee of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in a hearing chaired by Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). Their stories confirmed Smith’s observation: ‘In a very real sense, everyone close to a prisoner of conscience goes to jail and lives a seemingly unending nightmare.’”
Resurrection by EJ Dionne: “A pope who sees lifting up the poor and moralizing an unjust economy as primary objectives inevitably views the culture wars that so engage Catholic conservatives, particularly in the United States, as a peculiar rock on which to build the church’s public ministry.”
Is Catholicism compatible with libertarianism? by Michael Peppard, Commonweal: “It’s hard to believe that question is still being debated, isn’t it? For over 100 years, the definitive answer is No. Pope after pope after pope, right up to Benedict XVI, has explained this in the most magisterial ways. But perhaps it has taken Pope Francis’s singular history, style, and gift for communication to break through the noise of American-style capitalism.”
Bishops lead protesters in prayer after night of police action in Kiev by Cindy Wooden, CNS: “Corrupt politicians, he said, are getting rich, while the population gets poorer and more people try to emigrate in search of work.”
Chinese prosecutors file charges against leading activist Xu Zhiyong by Washington Post: “Xu, a legal scholar, founded the New Citizens Movement, a loose network of activists seeking to promote the rule of law and human rights in China. In March and April, several members unfurled banners in Beijing demanding that Communist Party officials publicly disclose their assets, and many have since been arrested as part of a broad crackdown on dissent under President Xi Jinping.”
Have Faith in Joy by Fr. James Martin, SJ, America: “So does the Christian have to be happy all the time? No. But is the Christian invited to experience lasting joy, which can stand unshaken in the midst of troubles? Just ask the disciples on Easter Sunday morning.”
Pope Francis: “The Saints were not superhuman. They were people who loved God in their hearts, and who shared this joy with others.”
“The Church decidedly bets on living the globalization of mercy and solidarity.”
“In practice, the hyperventilation of the economy has produced great amounts of money, fruit of the erosion of governmental regulation and a symptom of the failure of materialism. But, as a result, there is always a particular category of victim: ‘the poor.’ Jesus of Nazareth made a warning that should be heeded by all the powers: civil and religious, democratic, monarchic, socialist, of any type: ‘You know that those who are considered the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave.’ (Mark 10: 41; Matthew 20: 25).”
“There is no doubt that doctrinal argument is important, but people will be attracted by the humanity of Christians, those who live by the faith, who live in a human way, who irradiate the joy of living, the consistency in their behavior.”