A Reflection on Pope Francis

I made my first trip to Argentina in 1990.  Although I took one year of Spanish in college in 1967, I was far from fluent, so I carried a small pocket dictionary.  After a 15-hour flight from St. Louis through Miami, my clothes were quite wrinkled.  The first word I learned from that dictionary was ‘planchar,’ to iron.

I became fond of saying that Argentines are Italians who speak Spanish who want to be British.  How’s that for prejudice!  I thoroughly enjoyed my business associates in Buenos Aires, but the boss’s business ethics were somewhat different than mine were.  Driving through B.A., he was constantly ‘crossing’ himself.  “What are you doing?” I asked.  He would nod to his left or to his right and answer, “We are passing a church.”  His persistent self-blessing did not prevent him from taking advantage of his countrymen for his personal financial gain.  Of course, I concluded that my Argentine associates were no different from my other business contacts around the world….

Pope Francis
Pope Francis

Familiar with Argentina, I was pleasantly surprised when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, and even more pleased when he selected as his papal name Franciscus, Francis in honor of Francis of Assisi, the one-time Italian nobleman who gave up everything to serve the poor.  One year ago, we posted on heroes and I offered mine 

  1. Jesus Christ
  2. John Paul II
  3. Mahatma Gandhi
  4. Mother Teresa
  5. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

I can say with certainty that Francis of Assisi would be included in the next five, most likely in the sixth position.

Earlier today, I wrote a letter to a young friend of mine who is struggling with some issues in his life.  He is no different from any of us.  We all confront our dragons each and every day.  Of all the things I could have said to my young friend, I limited my response to a single suggestion:  make the prayer of St. Francis a part of your life and a part of those whose lives who influence.

The feet of Francis from the film "Brother Sun, Sister Moon"
The feet of Francis from the film “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”

I ask you, loyal reader or person who just stumbled across this post on this site, is there a better way to begin your day than with this prayer?

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, let me sow pardon.
Where there is doubt, let be sow faith.
Where there is despair, let me sow hope.
Where there is darkness, let me bring light.
Where there is sadness, let me bring joy.

Lord, grant that I might seek rather to comfort, than to be comforted
to understand, than to be understood
to love, than to be loved.
For it is by giving that one receives.
It is by forgiving that one is forgiven.
It is by dying to self that one is born to eternal life.

If there is, please let me know.  If you agree with me, then I encourage you to start your day with the commitment to make your life and the lives of everyone you touch, better.  What St. Francis prays can be of great benefit to the world IF we take it to heart with meaning and conviction.

I am convinced that Pope Francis would not have chosen the name of the one from Assisi if he was not prepared and committed to following in his footsteps.  I look forward to the positive influence Pope Francis will bring to our troubled and searching world.  Francis of Assisi followed in the footsteps of the One.  Nothing could lead him from his path.

Join me in the same conviction.  Make Francis’s prayer a part of your life every day.  The world will be a better place for it.

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  1. I watched part of this show “the borgias” with my wife, and I also watched part of that “tudors” show. I didn’t stick with either, but what I noticed is how deeply corrupt the catholic church was in those 2 different times. I was wondering what you thought about if the church is just as corrupt today? Or better? Worse? It sounded like the election of a new pope was as corrupt as regular politics in those 2 shows — do you think that’s still true today? Or does it all not matter because the pope that is picked is picked by god, no matter the way he’s chosen. ?? Just curious since you’re knowledgeable on this stuff!

    1. TB, It is a stretch to say that I am ‘knowledgeable on this stuff.’ Regardless, I do practice Catholicism although I wear a Star of David around my neck which influences many people to ask if I am Jewish. I recently posted an article entitled “On Being Catholic.” From my perspective, the most important point in the post is this: because I am Catholic does not mean I am perfect and/or without sin. I’ll leave it at that. The single thing that bothers me about Catholicism is the opulence I see at the Vatican. It bothers me, but it does not turn me from my faith. I believe Pope Francis is moving the Vatican away from that opulence that so annoys me. I do not believe the Catholic Church is corrupt. Too many people who profess Catholicism — priests included — have made too many bad choices. That distresses me, BUT, I recognize the Catholic church is not perfect, and there are significant issues that MUST be addressed. Even if they are not…. I believe Catholicism is a direct extension of Jesus. I will not condone any who have taken advantage of that direct extension, but I will not let their deviation divert me from the true message of Jesus, which simply put is peace and love. Who on earth — or in heaven — can argue with that. Thanks for your thoughtful response. Keep on truckin’, Dude!

      1. That makes some sense about not letting the bad choices of some people get in the way of the true meaning behind the religion and teachings. I’ve wondered sometimes why churches can be built with so much marble and expensive materials, they cost a fortune, and yet there are people still in the world who are starving. It would be pretty sweet if the new pope tried to turn that boat around, and move away from spending like that, and instead putting money where it should go! Here’s hopin’ 🙂

        1. We’re on the same page. Back in the 60’s, Otto Preminger made a really good film, “The Cardinal” based on the 1950 novel by Henry Morton Robinson of the same name. Early in the film when the young priest is ordained, he expects to be sent immediately to the Vatican. Instead, he finds himself in a poor parish in rural Vermont [I recall that Burgess Meredith was the old parish priest]. They sent the new priest there to learn humility. I sense that Pope Francis will bring a much-needed shot of humility and less arrogance back to the Catholic Church.