Calling for a change of mentality today during his homily in Istanbul’s Catholic Holy Spirit Cathedral, Pope Francis warned that, “When we try to create diversity, but are closed within our own particular and exclusive ways of seeing things, we create division.”
To the faithful gathered on this second day of his three-day trip to Turkey, the Pope warned of that which prevents us from understanding others, while offering a solution for all problems: the Holy Spirit.
While focusing his words on the Spirit’s unifying power, the Pope noted, “The temptation is always within us to resist the Holy Spirit.”
We resist, he said, “because he takes us out of our comfort zone and unsettles us; he makes us get up and drives the Church forward. It is always easier and more comfortable to settle in our sedentary and unchanging ways.”
Our defensiveness is evident, the Jesuit Pope said, when we are “entrenched” within our ideas and our own strengths.
When we are ambitious or vain, “defensive mechanisms prevent us from truly understanding other people and from opening ourselves to a sincere dialogue with them.”
What to do
“The more we allow ourselves to be humbly guided by the Spirit of the Lord, the more we will overcome misunderstandings, divisions, and disagreements and be a credible sign of unity and peace,” the Pontiff suggested.
“In truth, the Church shows her fidelity to the Holy Spirit in as much as she does not try to control or tame him.”
When Christians become true missionary disciples, he noted, we are “able to challenge consciences,” as long as we have thrown off our defensiveness and allow ourselves to be led.
The Spirit’s “freshness, imagination and newness,” makes this possible.
“The Holy Spirit is the soul of the Church,” the Holy Father stated. “He gives life, he brings forth different charisms which enrich the people of God and, above all, he creates unity among believers.”
In addition, he said, the Church’s whole life and mission depend on the Holy Spirit, for “he fulfills all things.”
When the Spirit ‘takes hold’
“When we pray, it is because the Holy Spirit inspires prayer in our heart,” Francis said, adding that he also does more.
“When we break the cycle of our self-centeredness, and move beyond ourselves and go out to encounter others, to listen to them and help them,” he noted, “it is the Spirit of God who impels us to do so.”
Moreover, “when we find within a hitherto unknown ability to forgive, to love someone who doesn’t love us in return,” he said, “it is the Spirit who has taken hold of us. When we move beyond mere self-serving words and turn to our brothers and sisters with that tenderness which warms the heart.”
At such times, we have been “touched” by the Holy Spirit, the Pope said.
Given all these factors, the Pontiff reflected, the Holy Spirit “brings forth different charisms in the Church, which at first glance, may seem to create disorder,” but, in reality, create unity–the unity the Father has desired among all believers.
At the conclusion of the Mass, Pope Francis and Ecumenical Patriach Bartholomew gave a joint blessing. The blessing was welcomed with cheers and loud applause, as was the Patriarch’s entrance to the cathedral.
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