Some random thoughts on this new Pope

I was recently going back through my book on the prayer of St. Francis, “Make me an Instrument of your Peace.”  I was pleased at what I read.  I did well in that work, calling forth my better angels in service of a kinder vision of life than I often practice in my daily affairs.  And, in the course of rereading, it got me thinking about this new pope who has taken Francis’ name.

I like this new man, and am drawn to him.  It is the first time in a long time that the Catholics have raised up a leader who seems to shed grace and calm and light on the world through which he passes.

Since John the 23rd, all the popes have seemed to have a pinched severity somewhere at their cores — a judgmentalism born of the weight of the institution they have been called upon to lead.

This is only natural — institutions, by their nature, are embodiments of structure, not agents of non-judgmental embrace, because they have to have rules and standards by which they hold themselves together.

If the Catholic Church — one of the most venerable, venerated, and vilified institutions in the history of the world — is to become more like the man on whose message it is founded, it would seem to need to go through a period of almost chaotic embrace of the spiritual cacophony of human experience.

This new pope has chosen well by claiming the mantle of Francis.  Who among us remembers Francis’ theology and moral strictures?  We remember the man and his joy and his embrace. If this new pope can remain true to the spirit of Francis, caring more about embodying the message of Jesus than with defining it — if he can give us more Beatitudes and less Ten Commandments — a thousand flowers may yet bloom.

5 comments

  1. Patt Rall says:

    nice commentary–we visited Assisi twice and also the original small cabin that Francis lived in when he became a man of the people. He and his friend Clare–founder of the Poor Clares–are both interred in the churches at the top of the town of Assisi built into the side of a hill–we visited there after the tremendous earth quake that almost destroyed both churches. There is also a very good film about Francis starring Micky Rourke named “Francisco” I believe.

    Anyway, not the reason I’m writing–try to see today’s (0330) paper online for my feature on Pam Nelson—she mentioned a course she took with you that was instrumental in her life–a thoughtful comment.

    Hope you and Louise are enjoying Oregon–best to you both–Patt

  2. Marion Johnson says:

    Yes, “Make me an Instrument” is my favorite book that renews my spirit every time I read even one story. It is a gift that I often give to special people. Thank you for writing that inspi9res and renews my thinking and openers my world of limitations
    Marion (a senior in the 80’s)

  3. Tim says:

    Amen!!!

  4. Marc Allen says:

    Beautifully put, Kent. Thank you for your thoughts.

  5. Ray M says:

    What great firsts! A Jesuit from S. America. Italian, but that’s okay. I went to a Jesuit high school and University (both in Seattle). The vast majority of my Jesuit teachers walked the spiritual walk. And they did not just teach us, they taught us how to think. Another spirit walker was St Francis. I heard a story about a visitor to a Franciscan monastery who observed the brothers and friars doing their walk-about around the grounds, saying prayers or the rosary or just “getting air.” This guest said he witnessed several of them who would approach each other–while walking–and then, looking at each other, just burst out laughing! (Not exactly the same scenario I encountered at a Trappist monastery in Ireland). So I’m cool with Pope Francis. Like the classic Jesuits and Franciscans, he appears to be intelligent, selfless, dedicated, and blessed with a sense of humor. Pax, Ray M

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