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Pope Francis: A call to joy, action and contemplation

Posted by Br Lewis Harwood on 10 April 2020
Pope Francis: A call to joy, action and contemplation

Pope Francis Reflection and Resources

In this commentary and reflection, we highlight the inspiration of Pope Francis as a leader of the global Church. His pastoral and inclusive vision for the Church gives hope to many and his emphasis on interreligious dialogue provides a wonderful reference point across our Lasallian schools and networks. It is hoped that further conversations and reflection will encourage teachers, students and all those engaged in the human and Christian education of young people to dream of a more compassionate world. His qualities of spiritual discernment and his call to take up a vocation to humanity are particularly relevant for 21st-century ministry to young people and to each other. Taking care of creation and of the planet is also a defining feature to the spirituality of Pope Francis.

Who is Pope Francis and why is he so relevant today?

Pope Francis was elected to the position on the 13th of March, 2013 after the unexpected announcement of the retirement of Pope Benedict XVI.  At that point, not many people around the world had heard of this Jesuit Cardinal from Argentina. When he entered the world stage, he quickly established himself as the "people's Pope"; the pastoral and imaginative leader of over 1.2 billion Catholics. Indeed one remarkable thing about him is that he has a universal appeal across religions and cultures. He offers a positive message and an optimistic worldview.  His care is for the disempowered; for the poor; for migrants and refugees; for the lost; the imprisoned and the oppressed.  He is prepared to listen and to respond with compassion and action. One of his other gifts is the ability to be "patient" and discern carefully and peacefully. Pope Francis believes in the role of prayerful discernment whenever making big decisions; he believes in contemplative dialogue with the Scriptures and the notion of "gradualism" the idea that things evolve, and attitudes shift and move. He believes in the movement of the spirit in guiding one's actions and decisions. These spiritual principles that Pope Francis espouses has many Lasallian parallels and commonalities. Towards the end of his life, St John Baptist de La Salle described that one commitment led him to another in "imperceptible ways" by a "wise and gentle" God that invited him to discover his vocation. Pope Francis has a spirituality that is practical, relevant and life-giving and which is centred on the common humanity of people.

Time to Reflect and Pause

Three important Pope Francis documents are: The Joy of the Gospel; Care for our Common Home; and Christ Lives. These writings offer further reflection on service to young people; human and spiritual accompaniment; caring for our creation and environment and the importance of promoting joy and hope.  You are encouraged to be to enter into these meditations on the following quotes for personal reflection time:

Contemplative Quotes for reflection:

Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home. (Laudato Si)

The ability to discern pathways where others only see walls, to recognize potential where others see only peril. That is how God the Father sees things; he knows how to cherish and nurture the seeds of goodness sown in the hearts of the young. (Christus Vivit)
  1. What is my purpose what is the purpose of life?
  2. Do I know myself?
  3. Do I know what brings joy or sorrow to my heart?
  4. What are my strengths and weaknesses?
  5. How can I serve others, the world and the Church?
  6. Do I have the abilities to offer this service and can these abilities develop more? (Christus Vivit)

Key Summary themes from Christus Vivit:

  • Christ is alive! this is repeated several times by Pope Francis
  • Accompaniment of Young Adults is an investment in relationships and faith
  • Youth Ministry programs need to be about empowering young people with hope for humanity and for mission
  • "We are always missionaries" in discovering new fields of mission in varied settings
  • The importance of "testimonies" sharing human stories and being together to listen
  • Moments of silence and Adoration; sharing Scripture and spiritual reflection
  • Building a culture of encounter in our communities
  • Dreams and decisions Young people are encouraged to dream and understand discernment
  • Vocations are pathways to revealing God's greater glory

Conclusion and Follow Up

Pope Francis represents a more inclusive, compassionate Church that is called to serve and be with those suffering and without voice.  The greatest needs for young people in Australia today relate to a sense of connection and belonging to what is "good" in this world. Young people are made for more are called to find "heaven" in themselves, others and in creation. There is a spiritual hunger to connect with deeper meaning and to care for others with integrity and goodness.  The capacity to reflect on the writings of Pope Francis helps us move into existential, intercultural and interfaith dialogue and inspire people with common values. As a result, there is so much to do in terms of bridging the "gaps" with education to those who do not receive a quality "education" but to also provide a deep/values-based/human education that promotes the dignity of all people.  Lasallians can shine brightly in this endeavour and in the journey of life.

If you would like to learn more about Lasallian Vocations or Religious Life, please consult our team.  Lasallian Vocations Team: Pathways@delasalle.org.au

Teachers and students are encouraged to read up on the inspirations of Pope Francis using the following resources:

Three recommended Pope Francis exhortations and resources:

Suggested Discernment digital tools:

  • Pray as you go App
  • De La Daily App
  • Click to Pray App
Author:Br Lewis Harwood
About: Br Lewis is a De La Salle Brother who works at Lasallian Mission services working in vocation ministry and volunteering. As a young religious, Lewis is passionate about the service of the Church and connecting with young people on their life journey. He has taught in schools in Australia and New Zealand and is committed to the accompaniment of young adults and their spiritual and faith formation. Lewis enjoys writing poetry and faith reflections and has contributed to the recent 2020 God’s Word Scripture resource with St Paul’s publication. Lewis is a massive fan of Pope Francis and loves intercultural learning and global communities.
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