Image Courtesy of Spero Forum
This past week, shockwaves were sent through the Catholic Church when a recent interview of Pope Francis went public. The Pope has made headlines over the past six months with his devotion to helping the poor and his dedication to a simple life. He has been given the nickname the “world’s parish priest” by the Italian media in reference to his charitable involvement with the common man. Pope Francis is the poster child for St. Francis of Assisi’s famous quote, “Preach the Gospel at all times, and when necessary, use words.” Pope Francis touched upon a lot of issues in the interview, but there are three concepts from Pope’s interview that I believe could help revive Catholicism in our modern society.
We’re all sinners: When asked who he really is, Pope Francis answered confidently, “I am a sinner.” This is a groundbreaking statement. No longer do we need to see the Pope or those in positions within the Church as “better” people. Catholics can shake off their self-proclaimed “Catholic guilt.” We are all on the same playing field, we are all human, and we are all sinners. This acknowledgment of being a sinner allows us to break away from the chains that enslave us to sin. The message of Christ wasn’t one of perfection to the law. Christ knew as humans we are not capable of staying true to law. We will fail. Christ’s message was one of salvation and mercy. It’s only through the grace of God that we are saved. Even Pope Francis, the chosen leader of the Church, needs God’s mercy to be forgiven.
Universal Church: The modern Church has put up walls to help purify itself from a sinful world. However, Christ made it very clear that the Church is not meant for those who are healthy, but for those who need to be healed. The message of Christ was one of salvation. We find this in Luke 7:50 when Christ exclaims, “Your faith has saved you, now go in peace.” The Church is open to all who believe and have faith in Christ’s saving power. It’s not exclusive to the privileged few. Pope Francis refers to this message of a universal Church, “I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else.” The Church needs to be inclusive for all of God’s people, especially those who are disenfranchised.
Daily prayer: Prayer is our ability to commune with God. However, this ability can be a daunting task, and become very intimidating. How do we talk to God? What do I say to Him? Pope Francis helped humanize prayer during his interview. He talks about prayer as “full of memory.” Prayer is to have the ability to just sit and be aware of all the things that Christ has done throughout your life and the life of others. Prayer isn’t limited. We don’t need to have a rosary in hand, or be inside a church to experience mindful prayer. Pope Francis urges us to pray throughout the day, to be in constant recollection of the graces that God has bestowed upon us.
Being a Catholic I am truly excited for the new direction of the Church under Pope Francis. He isn’t here to change dogma or doctrines, but he is here to remind us of the Church’s true message. A message dedicated to the words of Christ. A message of mercy, forgiveness, and salvation.
Link to the full interview with the Pope: