Pope Francis on how priests should be – Vatican Insider

I’m hoping to take a wee bit of a break from the computer during these holy days, but I just have to share this. Pope Francis addressed priests at the chrism mass this morning in Rome. As with all that he has done so far, his words are like a breath of fresh air. There is no mention of the privilege and exclusivity of the priesthood. He calls them all to go out to the outskirts of society, to reach beyond church walls, to be with the people. The words are all the more meaningful, because they are spoken by one who has lived these words. Here are a few quotes….

A good priest can be recognized by the way his people are anointed. When our people are anointed with the oil of gladness, it is obvious: for example, when they leave Mass looking as if they have heard good news. Our people like to hear the Gospel preached with “unction”, they like it when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith…

It is not in soul-searching or constant introspection that we encounter the Lord: self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all. A priest who seldom goes out of himself, who anoints little – I won’t say “not at all” because, thank God, our people take our oil from us anyway – misses out on the best of our people, on what can stir the depths of his priestly heart….

It is not a bad thing that reality itself forces us to “put out into the deep”, where what we are by grace is clearly seen as pure grace, out into the deep of the contemporary world, where the only thing that counts is “unction” – not function – and the nets which overflow with fish are those cast solely in the name of the One in whom we have put our trust: Jesus.

via Pope Francis on how priests should be – Vatican Insider.

Many years ago, I listened with a heavy heart to a priest preach on Holy Thursday about how special he was, turning our focus on his “priestly, consecrated hands”. How different are the words of Francis. They bring hope for a renewed understanding and respect for the priesthood; something so needed in our church today.

A blessed Holy Thursday to all!

we have a pastor pope!


I’m still relishing the first days of the new papacy. My hopes were not high as the conclave approached. The top contenders seemed to be more of the same old, same old. I SO wanted to have the WOW factor with a new pope. And, the WOW factor we got!

Many spoke of the need for a pope who would be a true pastor. I did not realize how much we needed this until Pope Francis stepped out on the papal balcony. Each day, proof of his true pastor’s heart makes head-lines around the world. Tomorrow, he will be celebrating the traditional Holy Thursday mass with the foot washing at the chapel of the Casal del Marmo Penitential Institute for Minors (IPM) in Rome. It will be a simple mass, with no live coverage. Not turning the gesture into a photo op makes it even more genuine.

My catholic dialogue column in this week’s issue of the Prairie Messenger has little to say that hasn’t already been said about Pope Francis, but here it is…

Humble gestures of pastor pope a welcome change

new pope, new papal living quarters

It’s a surprise a day with our new pope. Today’s headlines announced that Pope Francis has declined the papal apartments in favor of a suite at the Domus Sanctae Marthae, the Vatican guest-house that housed the cardinals during the conclave. In a CNS article, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman stated that,

“He is experimenting with this type of living arrangement, which is simple,” but allows him “to live in community with others,” both the permanent residents — priests and bishops who work at the Vatican — as well as guests coming to the Vatican for meetings and conferences, Lombardi said Tuesday.

The living arrangement is similar to that of many religious community houses that open their doors to guests. This is especially so in Rome, where many religious orders have their “mother houses”. I reflected on this in an National Catholic Reporter blog post today.

Pope Francis is not only a man of simple tastes, he is a man formed within a religious community; the Jesuits. It makes perfect sense that he would seek a communal life-style rather than the exclusive and secluded life of the papal apartments. This goes beyond making a statement about simplicity, it reflects the heart of the man; a man who finds energy in the presence of others.

I confess my guilt in taking every action that Francis makes and lifting it up in comparison to his predecessor. But, in the choice of living arrangements I really do understand the different needs of two very different men. As an introvert myself, I relish my privacy and personal space. This is ironic since we raised five children and large family gatherings are part and parcel of our life. I am also a big believer and promoter of the gift of community life in our church.

But, if I was pope, I might want to close the door on my papal apartments after a full day of greeting people and addressing the crowds. But, then again, I probably wouldn’t give up the red shoes either. (Did I mention already that I love red? 😉 )

Pope Francis is trying to form papal life to fit his life-style instead of squeezing himself into a preconceived notion of who the pope should be. And, this is a good thing. It means that those who follow him will have the freedom to do the same.