Donate now

@ Vatican Media

Knowing ‘God Is Here’ Is Consolation Pope Finds at End of Each Day

In q-and-a with Jesuits, Francis discusses his ‘best antidepressant’ as well as ‘sterilizing’ the Church, and what Ignatius can teach us all about poverty

When he does his nightly examen, Pope Francis says he feels consolation in seeing how God has been leading him, even as he asks forgiveness for the times he’s been an obstacle to the Spirit’s bidding.

The Pope shared this personal detail because, as he said, he was “with family,” during an Oct. 24 question-and-answer session held with the General Congregation of his religious order, the Society of Jesus.

On Thursday, La Civiltà Cattolica released a transcription and translation of the Holy Father’s conversation with the Jesuits, saying the “text reproduces the Pontiff’s answers in their entirety,” preserving “the tone and meaning of the oral conversation.”

Read the full text here: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articoli_download/extra/DIALOGOPAPA_ENG.pdf

The questions — more than a dozen of them — touched on issues ranging from the treatment of indigenous peoples, to discerning morality, to living in a polarized political society, to promoting vocations. He spoke of clericalism, rigidity in seminaries, and world peace, as well as a few issues directly related to the Jesuit vocation.

On the point of vocations, the Holy Father again showed his penchant for using descriptive imagery, saying, “Not promoting local vocations is suicide, it is directly sterilizing a Church, the Church who is mother. Not promoting vocations is an ecclesial tubal ligation. It does not allow that mother to have her children. And that is serious.”

Earlier in his answer, he affirmed, “I believe that vocations exist, you just have to know how to propose them and how to attend to them. If the priest is always in a hurry, if he is involved in a thousand administrative things, if we do not convince ourselves that spiritual direction is not a clerical charism, but a lay charism (which the priest can also develop), and if we do not call upon the laity in vocational discernment, it is evident that we will not have vocations.”

Finding consolation

When he was asked what, at the end of the day, gives him consolation, he said:

“I am talking to family, so I can say it: I am rather pessimistic, always! I am not saying that I am depressive, because that is not true. But it is true that I tend to focus on what did not work well. So for me consolation is the best antidepressant I have ever found! I find it when I stand before the Lord, and let Him manifest what He has done during the day.

“When at the end of the day I realize that I have been led, when I realize that despite my resistance, there was a driving force there, like a wave that carried me along, this gives me consolation. It is like feeling, «He is here.» With regard to my pontificate, it consoles me to feel interiorly: «It was not a convergence of votes that got me into this dance, but that He is in there.» This consoles me. And when I notice the times when my resistances have won, that makes me feel sorrow and leads me to ask for forgiveness.”

Filing away inspiration

Pope Francis also spoke about the need to confront the tendency to disregard or forget about Church documents whenever a new letter or exhortation comes along.

“One of the dangers of the pope’s writings is that they create a little enthusiasm, but then others come along and the preceding ones are filed away,” he suggested.

In this regard, he said that Evangelii gaudium should continue to be studied by groups of laity, priests and seminarians, “because it is the evangelizing breath that the Church wants to have today.”

“It is not something finished, as if we were to say, «that’s over, now comes Laudato si’». And then, «that’s over, too, now it is on to Amoris laetitia.» By no means!”

The Pope said Evangelii gaudium should be used as a framework, as it combines Paul VI’s 1975 apostolic exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi (which Francis described as “for me … the most important pastoral document written after Vatican II”) and the Aparecida document.

The Aparecida Document was produced at the fifth general conference of the episcopates of Latin America and the Caribbean in 2007. The future Pope Francis played a key role at the meeting and in the document, which calls for a “continental mission.” It has been a guiding document in the work of the Church in Latin America since 2007. Pope Francis has made reference to it on several occasions since his election to the See of Peter.

The Holy Father said that the strength of Evangelii gaudium, though it followed on the 2013 synod on the theme of evangelization, was “to return to those two documents, to refresh them, and to offer them again in a new presentation. Evangelii gaudium is the apostolic framework of the Church today,” he said.

Laudato si’ as a social encyclical

Responding to a question about Laudato Si’, the Pope stressed that many people worked together on the encyclical, “and the scientists who worked on it were asked to say well founded things and not simple hypotheses.”

The Pope described his own work on the document as setting the guidelines, making corrections and then preparing the final, “yes, with my style and elaborating some things.”

But what the Pope emphasized is that Laudato si’ “is not a «green encyclical». It is a social encyclical.”

“It is evident that those who suffer the consequences [of disregard for creation] are the poorest, those who are discarded. It is an encyclical that confronts this culture of discarding people. We have to work hard on the social part of the encyclical because the theologians who worked on it were very concerned to show how much social impact the ecological facts have,” he said. “It helps a lot to look at this as a social encyclical.”

A Jesuit gift for the Church

The Pontiff also offered some reflections on poverty, drawing especially from Jesuit spirituality, saying the founder of the Society of Jesus didn’t practice poverty just for asceticism, but truly out of love.

“The view of St. Ignatius is not just an ascetic attitude, as if to pinch me so that it pains me more, but it is a love of poverty as a way of life, as a way of salvation, an ecclesial way.

“Because for Ignatius, and these are two key words that he uses, poverty is both mother and bulwark. Poverty nurtures, mothers, generates spiritual life, a life of holiness, apostolic life. And it is a wall, it defends.”

The Pope explained how so many scandals in the Church are rooted in money, thus saying that Ignatius’ concept of poverty as something that protects us is “a very great intuition” that can be “a source of inspiration to help us.”

The Ignatian vision of poverty, he said he believes, “is a vision for the whole Church. Something that can help us all.”

On the Net:

Read the full text here: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/articoli_download/extra/DIALOGOPAPA_ENG.pdf

And in Spanish or Italian here: http://www.laciviltacattolica.it/it/

About Kathleen Naab

United States

Share this Entry

Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation