Our daily breaking news reports often invite despondency! And I? After too many minutes of angry responses, I turn to Pope Francis for his ability to see the bigger picture and to suggest ways to get back into balance:
- “We must restore hope to young people, help the old, be open to the future, spread love. Be poor among the poor. Include the excluded and preach peace” (news.va, 9/24/2013).
- “When we draw near with tender love to those in need of care, we bring hope and God’s smile to the contradictions of the world” (World Day of the Sick, 2014).
- “Be amazed, dear young people; let us not be satisfied with a mediocre life. Be amazed at what is true and beautiful, what is of God” (via Twitter, 1/27/2014).
- “…becoming acquainted with other people and other cultures is always good for us; it makes us grow. And why does this happen? It is because if we isolate ourselves, we have only what we have; we cannot develop culturally, but if we seek out other people, other cultures, their ways of thinking, other religions, we go out of ourselves and start that most beautiful adventure which is called dialogue…This dialogue is what creates peace. It is impossible for peace to exist without dialogue” (Address to junior high students, Tokyo, 7/21/2013).
- “There is no fruitful work without the Cross. We do not know what will happen to us, but there will be a cross, and we need to ask for the grace not to flee when it comes” (Morning Meditation 9/28/2013).
How do we identify ourselves when asked? Pope Francis, in his recently published Gaudete et Exsultate, exhorts us to hear our call to holiness in this modern world. He is deeply indebted to incarnational spirituality and theology; i.e. God is alive everywhere and lives in everyone and it is in the Beatitudes that we have our “calling” or “identity card!” Blessed are the merciful, blessed are the pure of heart; blessed are those who hunger for justice, etc. Can we be not only “blessed,” but also “happy” in following these directives? The Gospels are about the abundance of life; they challenge us, no doubt about that! But they are also farsighted, insightful, interdependent, complex and yes, increasingly under threat here in our common home (Laudato Si, 2015). But we are not alone! St. Paul also gives me lively motivation to work with my bit of personhood: “Do you not know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough?” (1 Corinthians 5:6). I need only give my little bit! Finally, Senator Cory Booker says it in ten two-lettered words: “If it is to be, it is up to me!” (On Being.org, 7/29/2018).
So, how can I sit around and mope??
Renée Domeier, OSB