I Received a Letter From Pope Francis

May 12, 2019 | Fr. John Freund, C.M.

Pope Francis Wrote to Me… And You

I was privileged to receive this letter from Pope Francis. He asked me to share with you some of what he wrote.

He wrote because he firmly believes that:

“God in fact desires that our lives not become banal and predictable, imprisoned by daily routine, or unresponsive before decisions that could give it meaning. The Lord does not want us to live from day to day, thinking that nothing is worth fighting for, slowly losing our desire to set out on new and exciting paths.

The Story of Four Young Men

So he tells us the story of two pairs of brothers – John, James, Andrew and Simon going about their daily lives as fishermen.

“In this demanding work, they had learned the laws of nature, yet at times, when the winds were adverse and waves shook their boats, they had to defy the elements. On some days, the catch of fish amply repaid their efforts, but on others, an entire night’s work was not sufficient to fill their nets, and they had to return to shore weary and disappointed.”

Jesus walks by, sees those fishermen, and walks up to them… He makes a startling offer to them.

“That day, by the sea of Galilee, Jesus drew near to those fishermen, breaking through the “paralysis of routine” And he immediately made them a promise: “I will make you fishers of men” (Mk 1:17).”

But It Is Not Just Their Story

It is also our story. He connects the dots with our worlds.

“Much of life is like that. Each of us tries to realize his or her deepest desires; we engage in activities that we hope will prove enriching, and we put out on a “sea” of possibilities in the hope of steering the right course, one that will satisfy our thirst for happiness. Sometimes we enjoy a good catch, while at others, we need courage to keep our boat from being tossed by the waves, or we are frustrated at seeing our nets come up empty.”

“The same thing happened when we met the person we wanted to marry, or when we first felt the attraction of a life of consecration: we were surprised by an encounter, and at that moment we glimpsed the promise of a joy capable of bringing fulfilment to our lives.”

“I think of the decision to marry in Christ and to form a family, as well as all those other vocations associated with work and professional life, with the commitment to charity and solidarity, with social and political responsibilities, and so forth. These vocations make us bearers of a promise of goodness, love and justice, not only for ourselves but also for our societies and cultures, which need courageous Christians and authentic witnesses of the kingdom of God.”

Mary’s Story

He concludes his letter with the story of a young woman, barely a teenager.

“Her vocation was both a promise and a risk. Her mission was not easy, yet she did not allow fear to prevail. “It was the ‘yes’ of someone prepared to be committed, someone willing to take a risk, ready to stake everything she had, with no more security than the certainty of knowing that she was the bearer of a promise.

Mary’s would undoubtedly be a difficult mission, but the challenges that lay ahead were no reason to say ‘no’. Things would get complicated, of course, but not in the same way as happens when cowardice paralyzes us because things are not clear or sure in advance”

She responds with the ‘yes’ of someone prepared to be committed, someone willing to take a risk, ready to stake everything she had, with no more security than the certainty of knowing that she was the bearer of a promise.

His Final Words

“On this World Day of Prayer for Vocations, let us join in prayer and ask the Lord to help us discover his plan of love for our lives, and to grant us the courage to walk in the path that, from the beginning, he has chosen for each of us.”

I encourage you to read his full letter and pray about the two questions he asks of each of us

o Do you see yourselves as bearers of a promise?
o What promise do I bear within my heart to take forward?

Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date with how we are living up to the mission of St. Vincent de Paul, and how you can help.