Saturday, March 16, 2013

Teachings of Pope Francis

I have just contributed these two sub-sections in Wikipedia in the article on Pope Francis.

Announcing Jesus and rejecting worldliness

In both his first homily as Pope and in his first address to the cardinals, Francis talked about walking in the presence of Jesus Christ and stressed the church mission to announce him. In the audience with the cardinals, he said:

Stimulated by the Year of Faith, all together, pastors and faithful, we will make an effort to respond faithfully to the eternal mission: to bring Jesus Christ to humanity, and to lead humanity to an encounter with Jesus Christ: the Way, the Truth and the Life, truly present in the Church and, at the same time, in every person. This encounter makes us become new men in the mystery of Grace, provoking in our hearts the Christian joy that is a hundredfold that given us by Christ to those who welcome Him into their lives.

In his homily, he stressed that "if we do not profess Jesus Christ, things go wrong. We may become a charitable NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of the Lord." He went on to teach that "When we do not profess Jesus Christ, we profess the worldliness of the devil... when we profess Christ without the Cross, we are not disciples of the Lord, we are worldly".

The theme of rejecting "spiritual worldliness", has been described as a "leitmotif" of his teachings even before he became Pope. Understanding this worldliness as "putting oneself at the center", he said that it is the "greatest danger for the Church, for us, who are in the Church."

Morality as response to God’s mercy

Bergoglio views morality in the context of an encounter with Christ. This encounter is “triggered” by mercy, and the “privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin.”

And thus, he says, a new morality --a correspondence to mercy-- is born. He views this morality as a “revolution”: it is “not a titanic effort of the will”, but “simply a response” to a “surprising, unforeseeable, and ‘unjust’ mercy”. It is “not a ‘never falling down’ but an ‘always getting up again.’”

According to his biography, The Jesuit, he changed his life when, at 17 years of age, he started a day of student celebrations by going to confession. "A strange thing happened to me...It was a surprise, the astonishment of an encounter...This is the religious experience: the astonishment of encountering someone who was waiting for you... God is the one who seeks us first."

To find the source references, please visit the site.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

To love, we have to receive love. How?

This morning I read an article from Catholic Education Resource Center written by Donald Demarco. He talked about love and reason, favorite topics in this blog.

De Marco's thoughts made me think again of Benedict's enlightening point on how love grows. As far back as 2007 I have been emphasizing this insight of Benedict XVI's Deus Caritas Est: Anyone who wishes to give love must also receive love as a gift.

It is a new formulation of the classic nemo dat quod non habet, we cannot give what we don't have. But Benedict's is a more precise insight into reality, because he starts from the key and all-encompassing principle of all reality: God is love and we -- who want to be better -- are merely made in his image.

And so for us to live his life of love, we have to follow the "design" that is at the heart of the Trinity, the design specifically of God the Son who is the prototype of all humans. Jesus receives everything from the Father and so he is able to give to the Father and to all of us, everything from the Father. He is able to give love because he receives love. We, too, if we are to give love, have to receive God's life of love.

The key then is: how do we receive God's life of love?

This quote from Benedict's talk in Britain can give us the answer:

We were made to receive love, and we have. Every day we should thank God for the love we have already known, for the love that has made us who we are, the love that has shown us what is truly important in life. We need to thank the Lord for the love we have received from our families, our friends, our teachers, and all those people in our lives who have helped us to realise how precious we are, in their eyes and in the eyes of God.

We were also made to give love, to make it the inspiration for all we do and the most enduring thing in our lives. At times this seems so natural, especially when we feel the exhilaration of love, when our hearts brim over with generosity, idealism, the desire to help others, to build a better world. But at other times we realise that it is difficult to love; our hearts can easily be hardened by selfishness, envy and pride. Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, the great Missionary of Charity, reminded us that giving love, pure and generous love, is the fruit of a daily decision. Every day we have to choose to love, and this requires help, the help that comes from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in his word, and from the grace which he bestow on us in the sacraments of his Church.

The answer is simple. From where do we receive love? "from Christ, from prayer and from the wisdom found in his word, and from the grace which he bestow on us in the sacraments of his Church."

Let's read and meditate on the Bible daily and do lectio divina: ask what God is saying in those words and respond to his message with our own words of praise, thanksgiving, contrition, love, and so on. Scriptures is the privileged place for experiencing and receiving Christ.

And let's go to confession often, as often as possible, because it is there where we receive God's life of love --whose kernel is mercy-- in great abundance.

And let's receive Caritas himself in holy communion daily, and experience the fire of God's love in person.

It is only then when we will be tireless like Mother Teresa, John Paul II and St. Josemaria, in giving our lives to others.