Pope: Gospel Must Be Preached Gently, With Fraternity and Love

Holy Father Recalls the Life of Peter Faber at a Mass in the Gesu, the Mother Church of the Jesuits

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The power of the Church does not lie within itself and its ability to organize, but it is hidden in the deep waters of God,” Pope Francis said at Mass this morning in the Mother Church of the Jesuits in Rome, the Church of the “Gesù”.

The Holy Father also said the Gospel cannot be proclaimed “with inquisitorial beatings of condemnation but must be preached gently, with fraternity and love”, with an open heart, “always longing ” for God, like that of Father Peter Faber.

The Mass on the Feast of the Holy Name of Jesus was held in thanksgiving for Pope Francis Dec. 17 decision to enrol the first Jesuit priest, Peter Faber, on the list of saints.

In the presence of the Superior of the Society of Jesus, Father Adolfo Nicolás and about 350 Jesuits, the Pope said: We Jesuits want to be honored with the name of Jesus, under the military banner of the cross, and that means: to have the same feelings of Christ.

This means thinking like Him, he said, to love like Him, to see things the way He sees them, and to walk like Him. It means doing what He did, and with the same sentiments He had, with the sentiments of His heart, he said.

Each of us, the Jesuits, who follow Jesus should be willing to empty himself, he continued, to be men who do not live in a self-centered way because the center of the Society is Christ and His Church.

He warned that if God, who is a God of surprises, is not at the center, the Society becomes disorientated. This is why, being a Jesuit is to be a person of incomplete thoughts, open thought, he said. [It is] why we always think looking at the horizon which is the glory of God always great, who surprises us relentlessly. And this is the ‘ anxiety of our void. That holy and beautiful restlessness”.

The Pope continued that because we are sinners, we must ask ourselves if our heart has preserved the restlessness of wanting to set out in search or whether it has atrophied. A heart that is always in tension, he said, is a heart that does not rest, does not close in on itself, but that beats the rhythm of a path to travel together with all the faithful people of God. 

We must seek God to find Him, and find Him to search for Him again and forever, he continued. Only this restlessness gives peace to the heart of a Jesuit, even apostolic anxiety should not make us weary of proclaiming the kerygma, to evangelize with courage. This restlessness prepares us to receive the gift of apostolic fruitfulness. Without this restlessness we are sterile”.

He added that Peter Faber had such restlessness and was a man of great dreams.” He was a “modest man, sensitive, with a deep inner life and endowed with the gift of making friends with people of all kinds,” he said. But he was also a restless spirit, indecisive, never satisfied.”

The Pope said an authentic faith always implies a deep desire to change the world. Does our zeal devour us, he asked, or are we mediocre and are satisfied with our laboratory like apostolic programming?”.

“Let us remember always: the power of the Church does not live in itself and in its ability to organize, rather it hides itself in the deep waters of God, the Pope went on. And these waters agitate our desires and desires expand the heart. Without desires you go nowhere and this is why it is important to offer our desires to the Lord”.

Faber was completely centered in God and this gave him a spirit of obedience, sweetly dialoguing with everyone, and proclaiming the Gospel”.

But the Pope said there is a temptation that maybe many of us experience of linking the proclamation of the Gospel with inquisitorial beatings of condemnation. No, the Gospel is preached gently, fraternally , with love.”

The Pope recalled how Peter Faber let Christ occupy the center of his heart. Only if you are centered in God, can you go to the outskirts of the world, the Pope said, and Faber traveled tirelessly even beyond geographical boundaries so that it was said of him: He seems born unable to sit still.

And he recalled how St. Ignatius’ first recruit was devoured by the intense desire to communicate the Lord. If we do not have his own desire, then we need to pause in prayer and with fervent silence, ask the Lord, through the intercession of our brother Peter, to once again fascinate us. That fascination that led Peter to do all these crazy apostolic things.”

The Pope closed by calling on those present to “renew our oblation to the Lord, that through the Lord of the universe with the help of his glorious Mother we can desire and experience the feelings of Christ who emptied himself.”

“As St. Peter Faber wrote: Never in this life may we seek a name that does not bring us back to that of Jesus. And pray to Our Lady to be placed with her Son”.

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