20 September 2013

Francis: "Religious Men and Women are Prophets . . .Prophecy may imply making waves"

There is a new interview with Pope Francis and MUCH of it is incredibly important, inspiring and needing discussion. (Actually as a whole it is incredibly significant but it is also composed of many important subpoints.) One small passage has to do with religious life explicitly and I want it post it here because it so completely comports with what the Sisters of the LCWR have been saying right along. It seems undoubted that Francis and the LCWR are on the same page here.

[[“Religious men and women are prophets,” says the pope. “They are those who have chosen a following of Jesus that imitates his life in obedience to the Father, poverty, community life and chastity. In this sense, the vows cannot end up being caricatures; otherwise, for example, community life becomes hell, and chastity becomes a way of life for unfruitful bachelors. The vow of chastity must be a vow of fruitfulness. In the church, the religious are called to be prophets in particular by demonstrating how Jesus lived on this earth, and to proclaim how the kingdom of God will be in its perfection. A religious must never give up prophecy. This does not mean opposing the hierarchical part of the church, although the prophetic function and the hierarchical structure do not coincide. I am talking about a proposal that is always positive, but it should not cause timidity. Let us think about what so many great saints, monks and religious men and women have done, from St. Anthony the Abbot onward. Being prophets may sometimes imply making waves. I do not know how to put it.... Prophecy makes noise, uproar, some say ‘a mess.’ But in reality, the charism of religious people is like yeast: prophecy announces the spirit of the Gospel.”]]

I encourage all readers to check out the interview. It can be found at: http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20130919_1.pdf . It is also available on Amazon for Kindle under the title A Big Heart Open to God (it may also be available in a hard copy; I am not sure of that). The cost of the Kindle version is about $3.00.

I am hoping to write about other parts of it as soon as I have had time to digest them. Let me just say that I am more excited now than I was in the first days of Francis' papacy and more sure than ever that Vatican II and the Holy Spirit are alive and well in our Church; because of this I am also more confident that the Council will be fully received in time. There is so much in what Francis has had to say here that is surprisingly wonderful and an answer to prayers which leaves me feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all.

Francis' tone is honest, humble, transparent, and also very frank. It is not merely the way he says things, but the substance of what he believes about the universal call to holiness, about the holiness of ordinary life, the need for homilies in touch with the faith and hungers of the people, a synodal structure in church governance, the need for increased subsidiarity and his criticism of a process that has Rome as the center of  fielding denunciations for heterodoxy (which should be handled on the local level), a clarity on the role of the curia, and above all, that everything the church says or does should first of all proclaim the good news of a Merciful God in Christ --- all of this is straight out of Vatican II; it therefore is in continuity with and represents the best of the entire Catholic Tradition. All of this, in other words, reflects the heart and mind of a Jesuit who shepherds (and desires to Shepherd) a post VII Church which lives from and in light of the Gospel which makes ALL THINGS NEW (including the Church's own Tradition!).