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Turn to Jesus (Article)

Deeply Moved
Fr. Walter Schu LC shares his thoughts on the election of Pope Francis during homily at Cheshire, Conn. novitiate

Pope Francis I
A Servant Leader -- Pope Francis I

Following is the homily given today to the seminarians at the Legion of Christ novitiate in Cheshire, Connecticut during the Mass in celebration of the election of Pope Francis.

From the ends of the earth

I’m sure all of us this morning, in the words of Fr. John Bartunek’s inspired and inspiring commentary yesterday on MSNBC, are still deeply moved.  Deeply moved in the first place at the courage of all the Cardinals, at their openness to the Holy Spirit, choosing the first non-European Pope in over 1,000 years, and the first Pope from South America in history—as well as the first Jesuit Pope in history.

Deeply moved also at the providential care of God the Father watching over his Church and watching over each of us as he gave us a new Holy Father yesterday to guide and shepherd us. Who could not discern a father’s love in that warm smile and gentle demeanor, in that first blessing that Pope Francis gave to more than a hundred thousand faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square?

Deeply moved, finally, at those first words of Pope Francis, words that revealed the sort of Pastor the Holy Spirit has chosen to guide Christ’s Church. After mentioning that the Cardinals had gone “almost to the ends of the earth” to find the new Bishop for Rome, his very first words were of gratitude to the people in St. Peter’s Square for the joy and love with which they received him. Gratitude is the first mark of a humble soul.

Then he asked everyone to pray for Pope Emeritus Benedict. Once again, showing his gratitude for Pope Benedict’s Pontificate—and also his power to lead, as millions of people from around the world who were watching joined the Pope in prayer. Next he won over the Italian people with those words “facciamo un cammino insieme.” In Italy, everything is “un cammino insieme.” As long as you’re walking together, everything is fine and will turn out well.

And he also used that word that all of us were waiting to hear—evangelization! With that one word he reveals the direction of his Papacy. He has come to evangelize! To help set the world on fire for Christ. Not to preach a prosperity Gospel, or a Gospel of the God within, like we’ve been reading about in the dining room—but to preach Christ and his narrow road that leads to heaven. To win the world over to the path of Christ.

A Church that is out on the streets

Regarding evangelization, Pope Francis would be all in favor of our door-to-door missions. If you don’t believe me, here’s what he just said not too long ago as Cardinal:

"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."

Those are words of a man with the courage to evangelize. Right where it counts—person to person, out on the streets.

Who is Pope Francis?

His father was an immigrant from Italy and he has four brothers and sisters. When he was young he first wanted to be a chemist, but then felt the calling to the priesthood and religious life, so he entered the Jesuits.

He did theology studies in Germany—so he is an accomplished intellectual.

From 1973 to 1979 he was provincial in Argentina—and he always encouraged his men to avoid the danger of liberation theology, but to be true pastors to everyone—both rich and poor. He is a man of great simplicity. A Prince of the Church who chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop´s palace, who gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work, and who cooked his own meals.

He is a man with a great love for the poor.      

“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least," Cardinal Bergoglio said during a gathering of Latin American bishops in 2007. "The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers."

At the same time, he has generally tended to accent growth in personal holiness over efforts for structural reform.

He is a man who has truly encountered Christ and his mercy.

"Only someone who has encountered mercy, who has been caressed by the tenderness of mercy, is happy and comfortable with the Lord," Bergoglio said in 2001. "I beg the theologians who are present not to turn me in to the Sant´Uffizio or the Inquisition; however, forcing things a bit, I dare to say that the privileged locus of the encounter is the caress of the mercy of Jesus Christ on my sin."

So on this day of great joy, and during this time of great joy, let us continue to pray for our new Pope Francis. Let us commend the fruits of his papacy to our mother Mary. And let’s be faithful to our mission to evangelize Cheshire and the world.



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