Posts Tagged ‘Pope Francis’

Final Thoughts On the Pope’s Visit: How We Could Miss It, How It Could Change Us

Tuesday, September 29th, 2015

What a weekend.  Tbe beauty of Pope Francis’ visit touched many lives.

And it is easy to miss it.  To miss the impact and let what could be transformation simply slide into the warm embrace, a fondly remembered time, September of 2015.

Miss #1: That “miss” begins with this.  To be moved, to be moved to tears, is beautiful.  Often a starting point, a “breaking” that leads us to act.  But not always. Sometimes tears are just sentimental.  Sincere no doubt but just sentimental.  So if we find ourselves moved we must move.

Miss # 2: Transitory movement politics gets us only so far. Activists must pave the way for broader coalitions to act.  In one word – how do we create endeavors that are widely based and sustainable? That demonstrate prolonged obedience and sacrifice in one direction while at the same time inviting many into the dialog?

Miss # 3: We cannot do it all.  The Pope addressed many issues from the environment to immigration to the death penalty to homeless to reaching out to those in prison.  We cannot … THANKFULLY … do it all.  And we can do our bit. Just our bit.

So be changed.  Allow the moving parts of his visit to move you, to reposition your life around the primacy of love – Christ’s beautiful command.  To move you to act.  To find that sweet spot of engagement.  Not a place of shrillness but a place of stillness where you feel God’s calling in your heart.  A place where the need is clear.  A place where a leap of faith is needed.  And a joyous place of God’s embrace.


Urgency and the Perfect Storm

Thursday, September 24th, 2015

“Humanity has the ability to work together in builidng our common home … As Christians inspired by this certainty we wish to committ ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.” (Pope Francis)

Urgency in those words.  Hope there as well.  It is why untold millions are moved by his words.

And my hope … that his visit to the US becomes a wake up call.

Asleep, we face a perfect storm.  Actually two storms, each tracking to a collision point.

Storm one – cultural.  Storm two – church.

The cultural storm continues to increasingly value more and more entertainment over engagement, consumption over stewardship, auditing over partnering, a shallow glance at life vs. a deeply engaged work at it.  Individualism and entertainment at all costs.

Storm two is church, church as a corporate force in the US.  Many churches fall into a consumer model that asks little of congregants except to be entertained.  Other churches double down on what was.  Failing to engage.  Picking up war-like paradigms of standing for the truth no matter the cost, a “standing” far divorced from “doing.”

Place those two storms together.  And there is … nothing.  A storm of nothing.  Shallow culture.  Irrelevant churches. And a certain thing dies.

What dies is the beautiful, powerful immagination of Christianity.  The part that gave rise to countless hospitals and schools. The part that founded the Salvation Army.  The YMCA.  The YWCA.  Homeless shelters. The Catholic Worker.  St. Francis Inn.  Sunday Morning Breakfast Rescue Mission, Habitat for Humanity.

All the above flowering from imagination … “the ability to work together in builidng our common home.”

An imagination to not just talk about the church but instead the endeavor to BE the church.

My prayer … that Pope Francis rekindles that imagination.   That we all find that spark again.


Brave New Voices

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Brave new voices.  Have you noticed some brave new voices?

We live in a time that appears more shrill, more shallow, more lean, more sensationalist.  Example … Ebola in the US … two cases … receives far more coverage than 1,000′s of deaths in Africa.  So we fear monger.  One recent pole noted that 55% of Americans now favor sealing, completely, all our borders.

And in that shrillness, brave new voices are speaking.  Malala Yousafzai.  Pope Francis.  And many others.

After having spoken of Malala and her growing legacy I want to speak for a moment of Pope Francis and the immense shifts he is stewarding in. These shifts will not just benefit Catholicism.  They will benefit all of Christendom.

One case in point was the declaration at a recent synod,  “that homosexual persons have gifts and talents to offer the Christian community and that pastoral outreach to them is an important educative challenge.”  While clearly not an advocate of church sanctioned same sex marriage in Catholic churches, Pope Francis with this statement opened the conversation around ENGAGEMENT.

Churches and denominations that refuse that engagement with any number of groups around any number of issues will find themselves out of step with broader trends in the Christian world.  Engagement takes work.  And engagment take courage.  The easy solution is to always cordon ourselves off, building clerical walls of rightness that we mistakenly see as walls of legitimacy.  They are not.  Take stands we must.  And one of those stands must be engagement.

In a famous Biblical passage God offers, “I stand at the door at knock.”  Sometimes He stands at the door at knocks to get in.  And sometimes He stands at the door and knocks to get out.  I see these brave new voices reflecting the latter, and reflecting what Emanuel Swedenborg called true faith.

“Faith is more than knowledge… First and foremost it is obedience to everything that faith teaches; and the primary thing faith teaches and requires our obedience to is love – love for the Lord and love for our neighbor.”  Secrets of Heaven, 36


Pope Francis, Rob Bell and hope for New Church Christianity

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

In the world of pastors, last week witnessed several fascinating events.

Pope Francis continued his obvious push as an advocate of lifestyle Christianity aligned to the needs to the poor.  Rob Bell, acclaimed author of “Love Wins”, in a well publicized interview preceding his most recent book, argued for Christianity to evolve largely along the same lines.  Fascinating. A Catholic.  An Evangelical.  Both calling for a radical reclaiming of a Christianity pulled back into its roots.   One could apply Richard Rohr’s words for the Pope to both actually …  ”this man is about lifestyle Christianity more than perpetual doctrinal food fights, which bear so little real fruit anyway.”

Listen to Rob Bell’s words as well. “I think we are witnessing the death of a particular subculture that doesn’t work. I think there is a very narrow, politically intertwined, culturally ghettoized, Evangelical subculture that was told “we’re gonna change the thing” and they haven’t. And they actually have turned away lots of people. And I think that when you’re in a part of a subculture that is dying, you make a lot more noise because it’s very painful. You sort of die or you adapt. And if you adapt, it means you have to come face to face with some of the ways we’ve talked about God, which don’t actually shape people into more loving, compassionate people. And we have supported policies and ways of viewing the world that are actually destructive. And we’ve done it in the name of God and we need to repent.”

Re-read those words as a Catholic.  I know and work and with many Catholics.  Don’t they ring true for Catholicism as well?  Re-read those words as member of the New Church.  I at least get a ringing in my ears!

What was immensely refreshing to me was hearing commentators note the consistent murmur from the disaffected that they would be willing to give Catholicism “one more try” if Pope Francis’ vision of simplicity, humility and generosity holds true.  I imagine many lapsed Protestants feel the same on hearing Bell’s words.

Hope.  This is a message of the universal Church, a Christianity spread over denominational lines, tied by hearts in the mystery that is Christ’s loving kindness lived into this world.