Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Pope Francis Effect

These young people had the great opportunity for a "selfie" with Pope Francis. I had to settle for a fake photo with Pope Francis!

Sr. Theresa Sullivan and me at NCYC
On the evening of March 18, the eve of Pope Francis' one-year anniversary, I attended the Francis Factor at Loyola University in Baltimore as part of the anniversary celebration for the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Watch the video of the event here.

The keynote speaker was Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston who is also a member of the Council of Cardinals advising the pope (one of just eight). Other speakers also on the panel were Helen Alvare, Father Matt Malone SJ, Kerry Robinson and Father Thomas Rosica who also moderated the panel.

Before the keynote speaker a trailer was shown for "The Francis Effect," airing April 17.

So what was the point of the whole evening seminarians in the area were required to attend?

I think Anderson Cooper summed it up well in the trailer when he explains that Pope Francis is not changing doctrine, but changing emphasis. Mercy and compassion were words that surfaced often through the evening presentation. Helen Alvare shared her own transformation/change of emphasis inspired by Pope Francis.

Another message of the night was to go out and be with those in need. A story was shared about Pope Francis from his days working with seminarians. He would tell them he wanted them to go out and be with those living in poverty. He would check for dusty shoes when they returned to see if indeed they had gone out of their comfort zone to reach out to the needy.

St. Vincent de Paul (patron saint of charitable societies) and St. Louise de Marillac (patron saint of social workers), founders of the Daughters of Charity, emphasized going out to those in need and to serve them with great dignity, respect and kindness.
St. Vincent de Paul was involved in setting up a parish confraternity of charity for women (beginnings of the Ladies of Charity, AIC). In his written directives he wrote:

"When the person whose turn it is has received from the Treasurer whatever is needed on her day for the food of the poor persons, she will prepare the dinner and take it to the patients, greeting them cheerfully and kindly. She will set up the tray on the bed, place on it a napkin, a cup, a spoon, and some bread, wash the patient’s hands, and then say grace. She will pour the soup into a bowl, and put the meat on a plate. She will arrange everything on the bed tray, then kindly encourage the patient to eat for the love of Jesus and His holy Mother. She will do all this as lovingly as if she were serving her own son--or rather God, who considers as done to Himself the good she does for persons who are poor." (CCD 13b:13)

The importance of the way we serve and treat people is echoed in I Corinthians 13:1-5:

“If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy and comprehend all mysteries and all knowledge; if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give away everything I own, and if I hand my body over so that I may boast but do not have love, I gain nothing. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury…”

So, let us look at the Jesus Effect which Pope Francis models for us: How do you treat others? As Scripture tells us, it is easy to love those who love us. What about those "other" people?

contributed by Sr. Denise LaRock

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