Stepping Back With Pope Francis

As I was looking for the text of Pope Francis’s extraordinary blessing/reflection on the world at this time of crisis, I came across this passage. It is from a commentary by the “DigitalNun” in a cloister in England.

Paradoxical though it may seem, I believe that this Lent we are all being asked to stand alone before the Lord as Moses stood, interceding for his people; as Jesus stood, interceding for the whole of humanity.

We are being invited to embrace a vocation much bigger and more demanding than we expected — one that is meant for us all, not just popes and nuns and those we might think of as the ‘professional pray-ers.’ That strange, but luminous, Urbi et Orbi of yesterday was indeed for everyone.

Here are some of the passages that struck me in Pope Francis’ reflection…

  • We find ourselves afraid and lost. Like the disciples in the Gospel we were caught off guard by an unexpected, turbulent storm. 
  • We have realized that we are on the same boat, all of us fragile and disoriented, but at the same time important and needed, all of us called to row together, each of us in need of comforting the other. On this boat… are all of us. Just like those disciples, who spoke anxiously with one voice, saying “We are perishing” (v. 38), so we too have realized that we cannot go on thinking of ourselves, but only together can we do this.
  • The storm exposes our vulnerability and uncovers those false and superfluous certainties around which we have constructed our daily schedules, our projects, our habits, and priorities.
  • Now that we are in a stormy sea, we implore you: “Wake up, Lord!”
  • You are calling on us to seize this time of trial as a time of choosing. 
    • It is not the time of your judgement, but of our judgement: a time to choose what matters and what passes away, a time to separate what is necessary from what is not.
    • It is a time to get our lives back on track with regard to you, Lord, and to others. We can look to so many exemplary companions for the journey, who, even though fearful, have reacted by giving their lives.
  • We experience the priestly prayer of Jesus: “That they may all be one” (Jn 17:21).
    • How many people every day are exercising patience and offering hope, taking care to sow not panic but a shared responsibility.
    • How many fathers, mothers, grandparents and teachers are showing our children, in small everyday gestures, how to face up to and navigate a crisis by adjusting their routines, lifting their gaze, and fostering prayer.
    • How many are praying, offering and interceding for the good of all. Prayer and quiet service: these are our victorious weapons.
  • Like the disciples, we will experience that with him on board, but there will be no shipwreck. Because this is God’s strength: turning to the good everything that happens to us, even the bad things. He brings serenity into our storms because with God life never dies.
  • The Lord asks us and, in the midst of our tempest, invites us to reawaken and put into practice that solidarity and hope capable of giving strength, support, and meaning to these hours when everything seems to be floundering.
  • Embracing his cross means finding … the courage to create spaces where everyone can recognize that they are called, and to allow new forms of hospitality, fraternity, and solidarity.
  • Yet our faith is weak and we are fearful. But you, Lord, will not leave us at the mercy of the storm. Tell us again: “Do not be afraid” (Mt 28:5). And we, together with Peter, “cast all our anxieties onto you, for you care about us” (cf. 1 Pet 5:7).

Thank you, Pope Francis!




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