Affirmation: I pray
daily for those who most need God’s mercy and open myself to be of service to
whomever She sends me.
following the historic resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. He didn’t want to be Pope. He didn’t expect to become the Pope. He had already purchased his return ticket
for Argentina. Immediately after his
election all sorts of tales began appearing in the news. It appears he is a very newsworthy person. One of the first stories was about him paying
the bill for his hotel room, himself and then taking a taxi back to where he
needed to be. Now, I’ve done those
things many times in my life as I’m sure you may have, but no one ever thought
it was of so much interest that they announced it in the media! The behavior and words of Pope Francis have
since been announced and scrutinized. He
is both applauded and criticized. He is
unlike most world leaders and yet he is subject to the same scrutiny as all of
them. He comes up short for some but it
appears as of this date, he is mostly being hailed as a man of humility and
wisdom, two qualities we all should strive to possess but which if possessed by
our leaders make for a kinder, more compassionate society.
Magazine. It appears the criteria
for this acknowledgement is who Time believes has had the greatest
impact on society during the year. It is
not always someone who has had a positive effect on our world. The opposite is
true for Pope Francis. They named him
because of his philosophy or a better word would be theology. His mission is to provide care and dignity
for all human beings. Mother Teresa also
had that mission. It’s what Jesus Christ’s mission was when He walked on this
earth and according to our Catholic tradition Pope Francis is His
representative here, today. He is the
266th pope and so far he has shown himself to be quite unique in his role as
Pope. There’s been a photo circulating
on the internet that shows Pope Francis in one half and Pope Benedict XVI in
the other. It says “Can you see the
differences?” Unlike the Sunday
cartoon quiz which makes it difficult to pick out the different character, this
“quiz” is very easy. Pope
Francis has abandoned the fancy trappings used by the pope’s of the past.
the head of a severely disfigured man.
There’s a rumor that he goes out into the slums of Italy and provides
solace for the populace. It is a fact
that he did this when he was in Argentina, so it’s not too farfetched to
believe he’s continued this practice.
His first encyclical addressed the distribution of wealth throughout the
world. He doesn’t believe the system
most countries, including ours works to the benefit of the neediest. Conservatives who only focus on economics
aren’t very happy with the Pope’s message but the Pope isn’t concerned with
their opinion. He is only concerned with
how society will respond to the needs of the most poor and the most suffering
of us. Yes, I said us.
December is unity. Each day I am
reminded that we are all one. Once you
begin to believe that, you will recognize that if one of us is suffering we are
responsible to find a way to alleviate that suffering and the world is
suffering of this there is no doubt. It
takes very little awareness to recognize the distress of this world. Sometimes when I hear some of the stories, I
am completely overwhelmed by what’s going on.
I am horrified by the cruelty. I
fully recognize that I don’t even have a clue of the horrors that are taking
place in our world even as I write this and to be honest, I really don’t want
to know the details. I only know they
exist and as the year has passed I have found myself called to step up and to
be more aware of the poor and suffering and to reach out in a way that
alleviates their suffering, perhaps even brings them joy and peace.
months. It began before Pope Francis was
even elected. It has been here all along
as all important messages are but I wasn’t ready to fully embrace it. I mean what can I do to help those most in
need? The second part of that question
is, what will I be called on to do and am I ready and willing? The clearest message came from Albert Haase’s
book Catching Fire Becoming Flame.
He says that focusing on Christ
“leads us right into the heart of a suffering, needy world where we
are sent to respond lovingly to the unmet need or required duty of the present
moment.” It is our mission in
life. It is our reason for existing, to
make the world a kinder more compassionate place.
can help change the world. It was a good
walk! What can we possibly do to aid in
the conversion of hearts to bring them to a place of love and peace? We can begin with ourselves. The first place where the transformation must
begin is within our own hearts. Luke
1:68-79 says “Let there be peace on hearth and let it begin with
me.” After that the soul is open to
the flame of transformation. If you take
some time every day to connect to the Divine, you will be led to opportunities
to ease the suffering of another, of others.
The opportunity is there. There
are so many ways to be of service if one is asking to receive them.
deranged and was obviously homeless. She
asked him how he was doing and engaged him in a very nice discussion. The rest of us had walked past, quickly. Afterwards I asked her why she had done
that. She told me she asked God every
day to send people to her who were in need and to whom she could respond. She told me she never knew where they would
appear and she couldn’t take the chance of passing someone by that might be an
answer to her prayers. Do you think her
kind words made any difference?
by pedestrians on a busy sidewalk. One
group would nod and smile at the stranger passing by them. The other group would ignore the
stranger. The researchers then asked the
stranger a few questions about how they were feeling. (How they got someone in NYC to stop and chat
with them was amazing to me but they did.) The people who were smiled at had a
higher level of contentment than those who were ignored. If just a simple smile from a stranger can
add to the joy of this world, what a difference we can make if we are making an
effort to ease the suffering and pain of whomever we meet and hopefully,
whomever we are holding in our prayers.
be of service, opportunities will present themselves and once you open yourself
up to caring about the marginalized and suffering of this world, not only will
you make a difference in other’s lives, you will make a difference in your
life. Your heart and this world will be