Lest I should be seen to be the old square liturgy buff I am, I would like to share some quotes from Pope Francis in Few Surprises. Francis Is Just That Way.
I confess that in general, through the fault of my temperament, the first solution that comes to my mind is the wrong one. Because of this I have learned to distrust my first reaction. Once I am more tranquil, after I have passed through the crucible of solitude, I draw near to that which I must do. But no one can save me from the solitude of decisions. One can ask for advice but, in the end, one must decide alone.
This is a man who knows about the discernment of spirits in the Exercises. On the other hand, our decisions are entirely ours, and no spiritual director can be of any help in this – other than by proffering principles on which to base any sound decision. I don’t have Pope Francis’ responsibility, whether as Pope, Archbishop of Buenos Aires or Jesuit Provincial. But I have had to, and still have to, face decisions in utter solitude and no help from God is forthcoming. We must decide alone.
I am sincerely convinced that, at the present time, the fundamental choice that the Church must make is not that of diminishing or taking away precepts, of making this or that easier, but of going into the street in search of the people, of knowing persons by name. And not only because going to proclaim the Gospel is its mission, but because if it does not do so it harms itself. It is obvious that if one goes into the street it can also happen that one has an accident, but I prefer a thousand times over an accident-ridden Church to a sick Church.
This is the mind of a parish priest or perhaps even a provincial diocesan bishop of a hundred years ago. We have to expose ourselves, go and get our hands dirty on the job, be seen to be priests as we do something for the poor. This is what my old parish priests used to do in their battered and worn cassocks, just keeping people company without ramming the Faith down their throats. An accident-ridden Church to a sick Church? My old superior used to tell us about Cardinal Siri saying that he preferred to be considered as stupid twenty times than unjust one single time!
By all means, we can and must hold onto our liturgy and all that makes Christ incarnate. But we also have to be pastors and wise men, men with hearts, humanity and humility – the kind of humility that knows it sins by pride. And I believe that Pope Francis will teach us, Roman Catholics and men and women of other Catholic Churches, this way of wisdom and humanity, the way of the heart.
He has only one lung and cannot sing. He only speaks Italian and Spanish and a smattering of one or two other languages. But, I, with my little tenor voice and love of music, have only half (or much less of) the father’s heart he has. In this I am entirely with him!