Pope Francis on Lent – The Expected and Unexpected

by | Feb 28, 2020 | Formation, Reflections, Vincentian Family

Not surprised… and yet surprised

I must admit I have come to look forward to reading Pope Francis’ short daily homilies… and even his 15,000 word major documents. Of course, the latter takes a bit more time to work through. However, both remind me of forgotten truths and challenge me out of my comfort zone.

As I read the MESSAGE OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS FOR LENT I realized that in just about everything he often says in a beautiful way some things that I expect. But I also have come to realize that he also often says things that I didn’t expect him to say. I had that experience once again.

Some things I was not surprised to read

Some things I expected centered on his emphasis on “personal encounter,” especially in the service of the poor. Pope Francis wrote:

  • “Jesus’ Pasch is not a past event; rather, through the power of the Holy Spirit, it is ever present, enabling us to see and touch with faith the flesh of Christ in those who suffer.”
  • On Prayer: “…the experience of mercy is only possible in a face to face relationship with the crucified and risen Lord ‘who loved me and gave himself for me’ (Gal 2:20), in a heartfelt dialogue between friends.”
  • “Putting the paschal mystery at the center of our lives means feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims of wars, in attacks on life, from that of the unborn to the elderly, and in various forms of violence. They are likewise present in environmental disasters, the unequal distribution of the earth’s goods, human trafficking in all of its forms, and the unbridled thirst for profit, which is a form of idolatry.”
  • “Today, too, there is a need to appeal to men and women of good will to share, by almsgiving, their goods with those most in need, as a means of personally participating in the building of a better world. Charitable giving makes us more human, whereas hoarding risks making us less human, imprisoned by our own selfishness.”

What I did not expect

What I did not expect was the fact and the strength of his words related to a current theme of the Vincentian Family… the importance of advocacy. What especially surprised me is the strength of his words and the practical steps he himself is taking. Pope Francis wrote:

  • “We can and must go even further, and consider the structural aspects of our economic life. For this reason, in the midst of Lent this year, from 26 to 28 March, I have convened a meeting in Assisi with young economists, entrepreneurs and change-makers, with the aim of shaping a more just and inclusive economy.”
  • “As the Church’s magisterium has often repeated, political life represents an eminent form of charity (cf. Pius XI, Address to the Italian Federation of Catholic University Students, 18 December 1927). The same holds true for economic life, which can be approached in the same evangelical spirit, the spirit of the Beatitudes.”

Food for thought…

  • Do I place at the center of my life “feeling compassion towards the wounds of the crucified Christ present in the many innocent victims?”
  • Do I see the beatitudes as a call to move out of my comfort zone to be the the “voice of the poor?”


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