papal intention for november – dialogue!

Source: Pope’s general prayer intention for November is for dialogue (Vatican Radio)

Pope Francis wants us to pray for dialogue. This prayer intention, for the month of November, is timely and welcomed (at least by this blogger!) It comes as no surprise that dialogue is on the pope’s mind after the hard work – and sometimes craziness – of the October synod. Francis has a vision for a truly synodal church,

“a listening church, aware that listening is more than hearing. It is a reciprocal listening in which each one has something to learn.”

Listening is at the heart of dialogue. Constantly interrupting, or shouting down a speaker is not only rude. It shows an inability or lack of desire to listen to what the person is trying to say. The same is true for discussion board commenters who pull words out of context to attack a writer, while ignoring the main idea of an article.

Whether in speech or in writing, it takes more than a few words to express an idea. Listening is giving an other the sacred space to fully express themselves before engaging in a deeper discussion on the idea.

From the Vatican Radio article,

At a meeting in Brazil, Pope Francis said: “When leaders in various fields ask me for advice, my response is always the same: dialogue, dialogue, dialogue.” He said, “It is the only way for individuals, families, and societies to grow along with the culture of encounter, a culture in which all have something good to give and all can receive something good in return.”

The goal of dialogue is not to reach a false sense of consensus by letting go of our beliefs. The article continues,

Dialogue does not mean denying objective truth, but rather respecting the dignity of the other person “in a way that everyone can see in the other not an enemy, not a rival, but a brother or sister to be welcomed and embraced.”

We may not have a seat at the table of global discussions, but we sit at many tables in our daily lives. These everyday tables offer the same challenges of diverse views and different personalities. Whether it is with family, friends, workers, teachers, students, or faith communities, difficult discussions can be seen as a call to dialogue. To listen deeply before speaking.

For greater dialogue in our church and in our world….We pray….

pope francis shares vision of a synodal church


While the focus during the Synod on the Family has been on disagreements and documents, perhaps the real news is yet to come. Pope Francis has been clear in his vision for a synodal church, a listening church which makes room for all the People of God to be heard. Here is my latest article for the Prairie Messenger….

Pope Francis shares vision of a synodal church

pope francis and st. thérèse of lisieux

francis and therese

October 1st is the feast of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. I fell in love with Thérèse as a child. In contrast to the big sacrifices of martyrs and missionaries, Thérèse promoted a “little way” to holiness.

Miss no single opportunity of making some small sacrifice, here by a smiling look, there by a kindly word; always doing the smallest right and doing it all for love.

Her own struggles showed that this was not necessarily an easier way. We all know that the “patience of a saint” is needed to face the frustrations and annoyances caused by trivial events and daily encounters with those closest to us. They may be small, but the effort is often a substantial sacrifice.

Pope Francis is a big fan of Thérèse and looks to her for guidance,

When I have a problem, I ask St. Thérèse to take it in her hands and help me solve it.

There were echoes of Thérèse in the pope’s homily at the closing mass of the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia.

like happiness, holiness is always tied to little gestures…They are the little signs of tenderness, affection and compassion. Like the warm supper we look forward to at night, the early lunch awaiting someone who gets up early to go to work. Homely gestures. Like a blessing before we go to bed, or a hug after we return from a hard day’s work. Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home.

Holiness by way of little gestures. Such simplicity. Such wisdom.