Francis the Builder

He’s great because he is everything. He is a man who wants to do things, wants to build, he founded an order and its rules, he is an itinerant and a missionary, a poet and a prophet, he is mystical. He found evil in himself and rooted it out. He loved nature, animals, the blade of grass on the lawn and the birds flying in the sky. But above all he loved people, children, old people, women. He is the most shining example of that agape we talked about earlier.

—Francis on Francis

Pope Francis’ description of his namesake, given in his recent interview with Eugenio Scalfari, is a popular one, both in style and content.  In it is found the reason why the St. Francis-with-the-bird statue winds up in many a garden of those whose identity as Catholics is otherwise nominal.  St. Francis had a love for nature.  For some that will be the take home from the above statement of the Pope.  But there is more in the Holy Father’s description.  St. Francis was like Jesus.  His life was poetry.  He achieved a life of charity rarely found in mere mortals.  Pope Francis is building, like his namesake.  He is making something more significant of that statue in the garden.  Thus, the pastoral method of Pope Francis in his interviews is personal, direct and spontaneous, but I believe we would be mistaken if we took them has haphazard. Continue reading

Francis the Prophet

I have sat back a bit to observe the reaction to Pope Francis’s interview with Father Antonio Spadaro.  So far, I have only mentioned it briefly in my last post where the Holy Father touched upon a topic I was already working on.  I do not think anyone is surprised that pundits on the far left and right have interpreted the Holy Father’s remarks as expressing freewheeling liberalism.  Neither is it surprising that those loyal to the Holy Father have dedicated most of their time to clarifying what the Holy Father actually said.  Hopefully, now more time will be spent assimilating his words without fear of receiving or conveying the wrong message.

I think Pope Francis in the interview is perceived  by many commentators the way he must be by the Vatican Police who are constantly challenged in their efforts to maintain a parameter of safety around this man who is of the people, and who finds it necessary to relate directly with them.  The Vatican police must wonder if the Holy Father is aware of the danger, because he does not seem to show it.  On the contrary, from his contact with the people as well as from his teaching and example, it seems that Pope Francis sees a greater danger in not taking such risks. Continue reading