Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Message of Pope Francis According to The New York Times

Without question, the most misunderstood person in the entire history of mankind is Jesus Christ. He was misunderstood at the time he lived when the religious leaders of the day called him a devil. Down through history both saints and sinners used his words and teachings to justify their actions, good or bad. Warmongers use the words of the Lord who preached love and mercy to justify war. His words of truth and justice have been used to browbeat people into submission. Rarely is our Lord presented as He truly was - our Creator who came to pour out His Blood for the salvation of mankind. The same has been true of the Church founded by Jesus Christ, the Catholic Church. As the late great Venerable Fulton Sheen once said, “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate The Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be.”

I would submit that the most misunderstood person in the world today is Christ's representative and the head of the Catholic Church, our Holy Father, Pope Francis. This papacy could easily be labeled, "The Litmus Papacy". Listening to people talk about Pope Francis doesn't really give one as much insight into Pope Francis as it does into the person speaking about Pope Francis.

THE INTERVIEW (and if you don't know what I'm referring to, it can only be because you were either in a coma for the last couple of weeks or on another planet) is a prime example of how the world sees Pope Francis through their own individual ideas and prejudices.  The Pope covered many topics in this interview, but the one that almost everyone picked up on was the following statement:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible.
NARAL got so excited over this remark that they posted the following on their Facebook page:


Chris Rock, hardly a conservative Christian, tweeted, "I might be crazy but I got this weird feeling that the new pope might be the greatest man alive."  On the opposite end of the spectrum, many conservative Catholics felt the Holy Father was going off the rails, just another example of the destruction wrought by Vatican II.

The truth is that Pope Francis was not saying anything new in this interview but merely echoing the words of Our Lord from 2000 years ago.  Pope Francis said we should not be concentrating on people's individual sins but more on their spiritual healing and bringing them to Christ.   In making this statement, he was merely following the lead of his Boss, Jesus Christ.

Our Lord with the woman caught in adultery
Our Lord rarely pointed out people's sins. We see this in the story of the woman taken in adultery, as told in John 8, when the Jews were demanding she be stoned. This is what the law demanded, but how does our Lord treat her? Jesus writes on the floor and one by one, the woman's accusers leave. Only then does Jesus address the woman:
Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”“No one, sir,” she said.Then neither do I condemn you, Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”
While certainly acknowledging that the woman taken in adultery was a sinner, Jesus did not condemn her but instead showed compassion and mercy. His only acknowledgement of her sin was to tell her to sin no more. Our Lord did not see a sinner when he looked at this woman. He saw a human being in need of healing. There was no obvious sign of repentance from the woman, no indication that she intended to change her life, but that did not prevent Him from extending His Love and Forgiveness. Pope Francis echoes our Lord's words and actions with these words:
A person once asked me, in a provocative manner, if I approved of homosexuality. I replied with another question: ‘Tell me: when God looks at a gay person, does he endorse the existence of this person with love, or reject and condemn this person?’ We must always consider the person. Here we enter into the mystery of the human being. In life, God accompanies persons, and we must accompany them, starting from their situation. It is necessary to accompany them with mercy. When that happens, the Holy Spirit inspires the priest to say the right thing.
Matthew 9 relates the story of our Lord having dinner at the apostle Matthew's house, which was attended by many tax collectors and sinners.  Not only was he having dinner and socializing with these known sinners, I can assure you he was also not telling them that they were sinners and headed to hell. He was a charming and entertaining guest who made them feel very comfortable and accepted.

Credit:  newdaychurch.info
Think of our Lord having dinner with likes of the heads of Planned Parenthood, the leaders of the homosexual movement, etc. You think he would never do such a thing? From Matthew 9:11-13:
When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?”
On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.
Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, summed up this sentiment exactly with these words:
“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up.
Credit:  www.tillhecomes.org
One of the best interpretations of the Pope's remarks that I have read comes from what many call the Secular Bible, The New York Times. This is an opinion piece, entitled "The Pope’s Radical Whisper", written by Frank Bruni, a very traditional liberal. It can be found here, although I am reprinting the entire editorial below:
IT’S about time. The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has surveyed the haughty scolds in its ranks, noted their fixation on matters of sexual morality above all others and said enough is enough. I’m not being cheeky with this one-word response. Hallelujah.
But it wasn’t the particulars of Pope Francis’ groundbreaking message in an interview published last week that stopped me in my tracks, gave fresh hope to many embittered Catholics and caused hardened commentators to perk up.
It was the sweetness in his timbre, the meekness of his posture. It was the revelation that a man can wear the loftiest of miters without having his head swell to fit it, and can hold an office to which the term “infallible” is often attached without forgetting his failings. In the interview, Francis called himself naïve, worried that he’d been rash in the past and made clear that the flock harbored as much wisdom as the shepherds. Instead of commanding people to follow him, he invited them to join him. And did so gently, in what felt like a whisper.
What a surprising portrait of modesty in a church that had lost touch with it.
This is exactly what Pope Francis is talking about.  As I stated in a previous post, we live in a world in which people have completely lost their way.  Like the people of Nineveh in the Book of Jonah, the world today does not know their left hand from their right.   They are the walking wounded, lost in darkness and not even aware of it.  They feel something is not right, and in their moments of solitude and silence - which they try to avoid as much as possible - they keenly feel this sense of loss. They are not in need of our condemnation but like the woman taken in adultery, they need compassion and love to bring them to the only One who can heal them.

Mr. Bruni notes how different is the tone of Pope Francis compared with the rest of the world:
And what a refreshing example of humility in a world with too little of it.
That’s what stayed with me, not the olive branch he extended to gay people or the way he brushed aside the contraception wars but his personification of a virtue whose deficit in American life hit me full force when I spotted it here, in his disarming words. Reading and then rereading the interview, I felt like a bird-watcher who had just stumbled upon a dodo.
I’m hardly the first to flag this pope’s apparent humility or the fact that it extends beyond his preference for simple dress over regal costumes, for a Ford Focus over a papal chariot, for modest quarters over a monarch’s suite. Less than two months ago, when he answered a question about gay priests with a question of his own — “Who am I to judge?”— the self-effacement in that phrase was widely and rightly celebrated. Was a pope really acting and talking like this?  
But Francis’ tone so far is interesting not just as a departure for the church but as a counterpoint to the prevailing sensibility in our country, where humility is endangered if not quite extinct. It’s out of sync with all the relentless self-promotion, which has been deemed the very oxygen of success. It sits oddly with the cult of self-esteem.
Mr. Bruni continues to contrast Pope Francis with the ways of our contemporary world, and how deeply impressed he is with the humility and sincerity of the Holy Father.  Mr. Bruni doesn't realize it, but what he is really seeing is the difference between the ways of the world and the ways of Jesus Christ:
Humility has little place in the realm of social media, which is governed by a look-at-me ethos, by listen-to-me come-ons, by me, me, me. And humility is quaintly irrelevant to the defining entertainment genre of our time, reality television, which insists that every life is mesmerizing, if only in the manner of a train wreck, and that anyone is a latent star: the housewife, the hoarder, the teen mom, the tuna fisher. Just preen enough to catch an audience’s eye. Just beckon the cameras close.
Politics is most depressing of all. It rewards braggarts and bullies, who muscle their way onto center stage with the crazy certainty that they and only they are right, while we in the electorate and the news media lack the fortitude to shut them up or shoo them away. They disgust but divert us, or at a minimum wear us down. Maybe we get the showboats we deserve.
FOR a textbook case of humility gone missing, consider right-wing Republicans’ efforts to derail Obamacare by whatever crude and disruptive means necessary. The health care law has its flaws, some of them profound, but it was legitimately passed, in accordance with the rules, and to stray outside them in order to make it go away is to believe that they don’t apply to you, that your viewpoint trumps the process itself. It’s the summit of arrogance.
Humility doesn’t work in the cross-fire of our political combat. Certainty and single-mindedness are better fuels.
This is exactly what Pope Francis talked about in his interview when he told us we must always leave room for self doubt:  "Yes, in this quest to seek and find God in all things there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself."

Mr. Bruni then contrasts Pope Francis with the liberal icon of our age, Barack Obama:
How exactly does President Obama fit in? While his Syria reversals may well have diminished him, they had a sort of humility to them, reflected a willingness to yield to the strong feelings of others and deserve some acknowledgment along those lines. Leadership, more art than science, should be a mix of rallying people to your cause and recognizing when you stand too far away from them.
But in Obama there’s a recurrent deflection of criticism and a refusal to abide certain political customs and efficiencies — the stroking, the rewarding, the mantra-style repetition of a simplified argument for a distracted populace — that work against his success and smack of excessive pride. He could take a page from this pope.
Credit:  www.driftwoodandcherry.com
Mr. Bruni next shows how the genuineness of Pope Francis has even helped to heal the wounds so recently inflicted upon the Church, at least in the eyes of the writer:
I never expected to write that. For too many years I watched the chieftains of the church wrap themselves in lavish pageantry and prioritize the protection of fellow clergy members over the welfare of parishioners. They allowed priests who sexually abused children to evade accountability and, in many cases, to abuse again. That cover-up was the very antithesis of humility, driven by the belief that shielding the church from public scandal mattered more than anything else.
For too many years I also watched and listened to imperious men around the pope hurl thunderbolts of judgment from the Olympus of Vatican City. But in his recent interview, Francis made a plea for quieter, calmer weather, suggesting that church leaders in Rome spend less energy on denunciations and censorship.
He cast himself as a struggling pastor determined to work in a collaborative fashion. He characterized himself as a sinner. “It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre,” he clarified. “I am a sinner.”
In his final paragraphs, Mr. Bruni makes it clear that he is not ready to convert, but he is ready to listen, and that is a huge step. Mr. Bruni, unlike too many Catholics, understands that the Pope is not going to change the teachings of the Church. However, he does see Pope Francis as someone who has something to give to the world, and he is open to this message:
He didn’t right past wrongs. Let’s be clear about that. Didn’t call for substantive change to church teachings and traditions that indeed demand re-examination, including the belief that homosexual acts themselves are sinful. Didn’t challenge the all-male, celibate priesthood. Didn’t speak as progressively — and fairly — about women’s roles in the church as he should.
But he also didn’t present himself as someone with all the answers. No, he stepped forward — shuffled forward, really — as someone willing to guide fellow questioners. In doing so he recognized that authority can come from a mix of sincerity and humility as much as from any blazing, blinding conviction, and that stature is a respect you earn, not a pedestal you grab. That’s a useful lesson in this grabby age of ours.
The message of Jesus Christ has mercy and forgiveness at its core, as shown above in the quote from Matthew 9.  Our job is not to condemn the world but to bring to it the healing message of Jesus Christ. That is exactly what Pope Francis has done, and Frank Bruni of The New York Times got this message loud and clear.   My prayer is that those who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ will hear this message as well.

Credit:  fr-fr.facebook.com


Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Lesson From Pope Francis On Preaching the Gospel to a Post-Christian World

“I see clearly that the thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to start from the ground up. 
Pope Francis

Pope Francis has now given what may be the most controversial interview in papal history, and it also may be one of the most important interviews ever given. The media, as expected, has colored it with their own interpretation. Bloomberg News summed it up with this headline "Pope Says Church Should Stop Obsessing Over Gays, Abortion." The New York Times headline was, "Pope Says Church Is ‘Obsessed’ With Gays, Abortion and Birth Control." Many Traditionalists and conservatives were very upset by the Pope's remarks. Others came out trying to defend the Pope's remarks. Bill Donohue of The Catholic League, in trying to defend Pope Francis, said that "people are tied up with these little micro issues on the left and the right." Father John Zuhlsdorf wrote a post, which you can read here, that he is keeping at the top of his blog in defense of the Pope's remarks. As he wrote, "I read what the Pope says. Then I try to figure out what he is really saying, apart from my own preferences about how he should say it." Father Z's basic premise is that the Pope has not said anything new. The Pope is merely repeating what the Catholic Church has always taught, which is basically hate the sin and love the sinner.

I, like most people, really didn't know what to think when this all came out.  The life issues, i.e., abortion and homosexuality and the destruction of the family, are most assuredly very grave issues and intrinsically evil.  So why should our Holy Father say we need to de-emphasize these issues in the Church?

So I took the time to read the actual interview, and I believe that Pope Francis, in this historical interview, is giving us the answers and guidelines we need to preach the Gospel to our spiritually and morally bankrupt world.  Every Catholic should read this interview, which can be found here

I think we should first take into consideration the times in which we live.   We live in one of the most morally and spiritually bankrupt of all times in the history of man.  If anyone has any questions about the morality, or lack thereof, of our times, look at the recent release of "Grand Theft Auto 5" which involves graphic violence and sex, including murder and rape, and which pulled in almost $1 billion on its first day of release.

We are now at a point in our culture where the only recognized sins are smoking (this is not even allowed in our entertainment anymore) and "intolerance." "Intolerance" is defined as believing in absolute truth and the difference between good and evil and trying to impose this belief on others. That is no longer accepted in our post-Christian society. Our world has accepted the philosophy of John Lennon: "Whatever gets you through the night, it's all right." The only moral commands in our society are to be "nice" and don't judge others. Nothing else really matters.

Christians, and more specifically, the Catholic Church, are now aliens in society. We are the counter culture. We are the the non-conformists. We are the ones struggling to swim against the tide. Talk of sin and hell and damnation is a language that is completely rejected and no longer understood by those around us. Methods of preaching the Gospel that were effective in a Christian-based society will not work anymore.  

Pope Francis is facing a world that most of his predecessors would not recognize.  Immorality and spiritual bankruptcy are not new.  What is new is that our world considers immorality to be normal and morality to be abnormal.    

So how do we who believe in absolute truth approach those who do not? We are commanded by our Lord to "preach the Gospel to all nations." It is our duty as Christians to bring spiritual salvation to as many people as we can. In the past, when society still believed in the difference between good and evil, we could appeal to them on moral grounds. When the Church told people that it was a mortal sin to be sexually promiscuous, people believed it even if they didn't like it. Sexual promiscuity is now considered a normal lifestyle. Homosexuality was never accepted by our society until recent years. Now you are considered a bigot if you don't accept it.

The Pope tells us that the two of the most important tools we need in approaching the contemporary world with the Gospel are discernment and humility. We should always give great thought and prayer to our actions and words. We should never feel that we have all the answers, that we can never be wrong:
I am always wary of decisions made hastily. I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision. This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess, looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.
In connection with this, the Pope speaks of the importance of humility, of always leaving room for doubt in ourselves:
If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good. For me, this is an important key. If one has the answers to all the questions—that is the proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt. You must leave room for the Lord, not for our certainties; we must be humble. Uncertainty is in every true discernment that is open to finding confirmation in spiritual consolation.
“The risk in seeking and finding God in all things, then, is the willingness to explain too much, to say with human certainty and arrogance: ‘God is here.’ We will find only a god that fits our measure. The correct attitude is that of St. Augustine: seek God to find him, and find God to keep searching for God forever. Often we seek as if we were blind, as one often reads in the Bible. And this is the experience of the great fathers of the faith, who are our models. We have to re-read the Letter to the Hebrews, Chapter 11. Abraham leaves his home without knowing where he was going, by faith. All of our ancestors in the faith died seeing the good that was promised, but from a distance.... Our life is not given to us like an opera libretto, in which all is written down; but it means going, walking, doing, searching, seeing.... We must enter into the adventure of the quest for meeting God; we must let God search and encounter us.
This next statement from Pope Francis shows his understanding of our spiritually lost world, and that those who wish to return to methods of the past are not seeing the real world of today:
If the Christian is a restorationist, a legalist, if he wants everything clear and safe, then he will find nothing. Tradition and memory of the past must help us to have the courage to open up new areas to God. Those who today always look for disciplinarian solutions, those who long for an exaggerated doctrinal ‘security,’ those who stubbornly try to recover a past that no longer exists­—they have a static and inward-directed view of things. In this way, faith becomes an ideology among other ideologies.
How do we know when we've lost our way, when we are no longer serving other people but our own ideologies?  From Pope Francis:
When does a formulation of thought cease to be valid? When it loses sight of the human or even when it is afraid of the human or deluded about itself. The deceived thought can be depicted as Ulysses encountering the song of the Siren, or as Tannhäuser in an orgy surrounded by satyrs and bacchantes, or as Parsifal, in the second act of Wagner’s opera, in the palace of Klingsor. The thinking of the church must recover genius and better understand how human beings understand themselves today, in order to develop and deepen the church’s teaching.
The great moral truths of the Church can never change, but our understanding of them does grow. And the way in which we present the Gospel must change because the world changes. We must speak in a language and approach people in a way that they will understand.
St. Vincent of Lerins makes a comparison between the biological development of man and the transmission from one era to another of the deposit of faith, which grows and is strengthened with time. Here, human self-understanding changes with time and so also human consciousness deepens. Let us think of when slavery was accepted or the death penalty was allowed without any problem. So we grow in the understanding of the truth. Exegetes and theologians help the church to mature in her own judgment. Even the other sciences and their development help the church in its growth in understanding. There are ecclesiastical rules and precepts that were once effective, but now they have lost value or meaning. The view of the church’s teaching as a monolith to defend without nuance or different understandings is wrong.

And first and foremost, we must realize that we are dealing with the walking wounded who do not even realize just how wounded they are. We must always remember that just as God extends mercy to us, we must extend mercy to others. Pope Francis made a statement in this interview that we should all take to heart in dealing with those opposed to us. This philosophy was the guiding philosophy of all the great saints, and most particularly of one of the greatest Catholics in the 20th Century, Blessed Mother Teresa:
I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else—God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.
If we see Jesus in every human being, no matter how degenerate they may be, we will be reaching out to that person with love and devotion, not judgment and damnation.

In this interview, Pope Francis gave us his idea of the way in which the church's ministers should relate to the people:
“How are we treating the people of God? I dream of a church that is a mother and shepherdess. The church’s ministers must be merciful, take responsibility for the people and accompany them like the good Samaritan, who washes, cleans and raises up his neighbor. This is pure Gospel. God is greater than sin. The structural and organizational reforms are secondary—that is, they come afterward. The first reform must be the attitude. The ministers of the Gospel must be people who can warm the hearts of the people, who walk through the dark night with them, who know how to dialogue and to descend themselves into their people’s night, into the darkness, but without getting lost. The people of God want pastors, not clergy acting like bureaucrats or government officials. The bishops, particularly, must be able to support the movements of God among their people with patience, so that no one is left behind. But they must also be able to accompany the flock that has a flair for finding new paths.
Instead of being just a church that welcomes and receives by keeping the doors open, let us try also to be a church that finds new roads, that is able to step outside itself and go to those who do not attend Mass, to those who have quit or are indifferent. The ones who quit sometimes do it for reasons that, if properly understood and assessed, can lead to a return. But that takes audacity and courage.”
When we read these other statements of Pope Francis in light of our contemporary fallen world, we can understand why he would make the following statement:
We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.
I mentioned Mother Teresa above, and I think she is a wonderful example of how to preach the Gospel. Her main mission in life was to live the Gospel, to see Jesus Christ in every human being and treat them with dignity and love. She picked up her Cross daily. She saw Jesus Christ in the world, and, as a result, the world saw Jesus Christ in her. She preached the Gospel more effectively than almost anyone else in our contemporary times. She did it by her actions, by showing love and mercy. Then, when she had occasion, such as when she received the Nobel Peace Prize, she would tell the world where it had gone wrong, and the world listened to her. From her acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize:
Let us thank God for the opportunity that we all have together today, for this gift of peace that reminds us that we have been created to live that peace, and Jesus became man to bring that good news to the poor. He being God became man in all things like us except sin, and he proclaimed very clearly that he had come to give the good news. The news was peace to all of good will and this is something that we all want - the peace of heart - and God loved the world so much that he gave his son - it was a giving - it is as much as if to say it hurt God to give, because he loved the world so much that he gave his son, and he gave him to Virgin Mary, and what did she do with him?
As soon as he came in her life - immediately she went in haste to give that good news, and as she came into the house of her cousin, the child - the unborn child - the child in the womb of Elizabeth, leapt with joy. He was that little unborn child, was the first messenger of peace. He recognised the Prince of Peace, he recognised that Christ has come to bring the good news for you and for me. And as if that was not enough - it was not enough to become a man - he died on the cross to show that greater love, and he died for you and for me and for that leper and for that man dying of hunger and that naked person lying in the street not only of Calcutta, but of Africa, and New York, and London, and Oslo - and insisted that we love one another as he loves each one of us. And we read that in the Gospel very clearly - love as I have loved you - as I love you - as the Father has loved me, I love you - and the harder the Father loved him, he gave him to us, and how much we love one another, we, too, must give each other until it hurts. It is not enough for us to say: I love God, but I do not love my neighbour. St. John says you are a liar if you say you love God and you don't love your neighbour. How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your neighbour whom you see, whom you touch, with whom you live. And so this is very important for us to realise that love, to be true, has to hurt. It hurt Jesus to love us, it hurt him. And to make sure we remember his great love he made himself the bread of life to satisfy our hunger for his love. Our hunger for God, because we have been created for that love. We have been created in his image. We have been created to love and be loved, and then he has become man to make it possible for us to love as he loved us. He makes himself the hungry one - the naked one - the homeless one - the sick one - the one in prison - the lonely one - the unwanted one - and he says: You did it to me. Hungry for our love, and this is the hunger of our poor people. This is the hunger that you and I must find, it may be in our own home.
This is not to say we must never speak of the issue of abortion, homosexuality, etc.  Pope Francis has made that quite clear, when just the day after this interview was published he made a very strong statement about the evil of abortion.  Mother Teresa herself spoke of the evil of abortion on various occasions, as she did when accepting the Nobel Peace Prize:
I feel the greatest destroyer of peace today is abortion, because it is a direct war, a direct killing - direct murder by the mother herself. And we read in the Scripture, for God says very clearly: Even if a mother could forget her child - I will not forget you - I have carved you in the palm of my hand. We are carved in the palm of His hand, so close to Him that unborn child has been carved in the hand of God. And that is what strikes me most, the beginning of that sentence, that even if a mother could forget something impossible - but even if she could forget - I will not forget you. And today the greatest means - the greatest destroyer of peace is abortion.
If we want the world to come to Christ, if we want to stop abortion, if we want to save our families, we must show them the Love of Christ, His mercy, His forgiveness.  Father Z put a statement from the Pope Francis interview at the top of his blog:  "I see the Church as a field hospital after battle."  I cannot think of a better way of summarizing the purpose of the Church.  Our job is to care for the sick and wounded, and we are surrounded by them.  From Mother Teresa:
There is so much suffering, so much hatred, so much misery, and we with our prayer, with our sacrifice are beginning at home. Love begins at home, and it is not how much we do, but how much love we put in the action that we do. It is to God Almighty - how much we do it does not matter, because He is infinite, but how much love we put in that action. How much we do to Him in the person that we are serving.
This, I believe is the message of our Holy Father, Pope Francis. 

I hope you will take the time to read the entire interview with Pope Francis.  It is long, but there is so much to be learned from it.
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