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Pope Francis, rebuild our Church. Please.

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The weeks between Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI resigning and Pope Francis stepping out onto that balcony happened to coincide with particularly dark spiritual days for me, a long stretch of feeling adrift and wondering where I’d eventually land. There were even days, I will admit, when I railed against the Church (if only in the privacy of my own home). All I kept hearing in my head were Jesus’ own words: “Blind guides…hypocrites.”  Even the run-up to the conclave held no appeal for me. I was detached, unfeeling, unsure.

But yesterday afternoon, when that white smoke billowed out of the chimney, I felt a twinge of excitement — and hope — at the prospect that maybe, just maybe, this would not just be business as usual. When I heard the name Pope Francis, my heart leapt. When I realized that man was the one I’d heard had shunned a private car and a fancy house, I smiled. When Pope Francis stood there and bowed before the crowd, asking the people to bless him before he blessed them, the darkness that had been enveloping me began to lift.

I started searching for things Pope Francis had said or written, and this was the first thing I found:

“We have to avoid the spiritual sickness of a self-referential church.

“It’s true that when you get out into the street, as happens to every man and woman, there can be accidents. However, if the church remains closed in on itself, self-referential, it gets old.

“Between a church that suffers accidents in the street, and a church that’s sick because it’s self-referential, I have no doubts about preferring the former.”

And the light grew. Then I found this:

“We seek to make contact with families that are not involved in the parish. Instead of just being a Church that welcomes and receives, we try to be a Church that comes out of itself and goes to the men and women who do not participate in parish life, do not know much about it and are indifferent towards it. We organise missions in public squares where many people usually gather: we pray, we celebrate mass, we offer baptism which we administer after a brief preparation. This is the style of the parishes and the diocese itself. Other than this, we also try to reach out to people who are far away, via digital means, the web and brief messaging.”

And the tears formed, and for the first time in weeks I no longer felt adrift. Every quote and every photo I found over the course of last night gave me more and more hope. When I went to bed,I picked up the “little black book” I had been using for Lent, the one still opened to the first week of Lent because I had been unable to pray, and turned to March 13 and prayed.

I don’t usually put so much stock in one person, especially a high-ranking churchman, but this man gives me hope in new ways. Being a Jesuit but choosing the name Francis speaks volumes, and I am so excited to see what happens next for our Church, where this humble man who has chosen simplicity and the poor over comfort and the curia will take us.

God told Francis: “Rebuild my church.” Please, Pope Francis, do the same for us. Rebuild our Church from the inside out and remind us what stands at the heart of our faith under all the worldly trappings.

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7 Comments Post a comment
  1. Amen and AMDG!

    Did you read this at John Thavis’ blog today? It gives me such hope.
    http://www.johnthavis.com/pope-francis-first-24-hours-doing-it-his-way

    And Mary, you ALWAYS give me hope. I’m sorry for your time adrift, but it was a gift to speak with you last week. Thanks for being such a good friend.

    March 14, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thanks, Fran! And wasn’t that a great post by John Thavis? Lots of hope today. Let’s keep it going. :-)

      March 14, 2013
  2. Anonymous #

    I know Pope Francis deserves to be seen as his own man, and it is both too early and unfair to make comparsions with other popes, but as I watch him and read about him, I keep thinking: Pope John XXIII. And that’s a good thing for all the hopes you’re feeling.

    March 14, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      I agree. I feel the same way, even with my limited knowledge of John XXIII. I feel like anything could happen down the road — anything good — because this man breaks from the status quo in so many ways. All bets are off. I can’t wait to see what happens.

      March 14, 2013
  3. A beautiful post. Thank you for your authenticity and openness. Please keep it up!

    March 15, 2013
    • Mary DeTurris Poust #

      Thank you, Cathy!

      March 15, 2013

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