On March 13, 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina, was voted the 266th pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He is the first Jesuit, the first from the Southern Hemisphere, and the first from the Americas to be named pope. These are all big firsts, and matched with the fact that Pope Benedict XVI decided to resign (the first pope to do so since 1415), it is an interesting season for the Vatican.
This book provides six faith-sharing sessions on Franciscan spirituality. Each session begins and ends with simple prayers from scripture or from St. Francis’ writings. Stories of Francis’ life and scripture passages he loved and lived by form the core of each session. Reflection questions help us readers and group users apply the theme of the session to our own lives.
In his first month as pope, Francis has won widespread acclaim thus far by gestures such as stopping to pay his own hotel bill, dressing down, choosing to live in the less fancy Vatican guest house and riding the elevator with the cardinals instead of by himself. Already this is sending a message of a less formal interpretation of his papal role, mirrored by his mode of speech in addresses to the public and during worship. He is not afraid to break convention in the name of simplicity. “This choice indicates about all a style for the church: simplicity, poverty, rigor,” said the Rev. Antonio Spadaro. On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis washed the feet of twelve inmates at a juvenile prison in Rome. Two of the inmates were Muslim women. This, again breaking convention since the pope’s ceremonial foot washing traditionally has only included men since in the biblical story Jesus washed the feet of twelve male apostles. Then, on Easter Sunday, Pope Francis’ address showed deep concern for the poor and marginalized among us, quite in line with his chosen name.
Bergoglio chose the name Francis upon his papal appointment, many are saying after Francis of Assisi. Francis of Assisi was raised in a rich family, went to war, was imprisoned, and became very ill. Upon returning to Assisi, Francis eventually denounced his wealth and worldliness to work to imitate Jesus in his own life. Francis of Assisi was never ordained to the Catholic priesthood, but lived among beggars in Rome and worked to end the Crusades. He is the patron saint of animals and the environment and is associated with peace, poverty and simplicity. An interesting namesake choice for Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. One month after his appointment, it is clear that there are eyes on the Vatican, wondering where Pope Francis will lead the Church.
The Prayer of St. Francis
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen
If you had to change your name, who would you want to be named after?
What would taking on that name mean for you as a reminder to how you want to live?
If you were to pick on line from The Prayer of St. Francis as your mantra for the week, which would it be? Why?