Wednesday, March 13, 2013

A prayer for Pope Francis

What a sense of humor God has. A Latin American Jesuit is elected pope and takes the name Francis.

Inside of St. Peter's dome, The Vatican

Pope Francis,
May the Spirit of God light a fire in you 
so that you may be Good News to the Poor, 
a sign of contradiction to the powers of this world, 
and a witness to the compassion of Jesus.

Papa Francisco (Pancho),
Que el Espíritu de Dios encienda en ti un fuego 
para que seas Buena Nueva a los pobres, 
un señal de contradicción a los poderes del mundo, 
y un testigo de la compasión de Jesucristo.

When I was in Rome last month I took the above photo of St. Francis and his companions facing the Lateran Basilica, where the pope lived in Francis' day. 

My prayer in the past few weeks can be summed up as asking God that the next pope be more like Francis of Assisi than a Renaissance potentate.

May Pope Francis live up to his name. 

I just had an errant thought. What if he took the name Francis after St. Francis Xavier, the great Jesuit missionary? That's not a problem for me.

Here's a great quote from a letter of  St. Francis Xavier, taken from Henri Nouwen's Road to Daybreak:
      “Often I am overcome with the desire to cry out against the universities, especially against the University of Paris . . . and to rage with all my powers like a fool who has lost his senses.
      “I would cry out against those who are more preoccupied with becoming scientists than with letting people in need profit from their science . . . I am afraid that many who learn their disciplines at the university are more interested in using them to acquire honors, bishoprics, privileges, and high position than in using them for what is just and necessary. . . The common word is: ‘I will study “letters” in order to get some good privileged position in the Church, and after that  I will live for God.’ These people are brutes, following the guidance of their sensuality and disordered impulses. . . They do not trust in God, nor do they give themselves completely to him . . . they are afraid that God does not want what they desire and that when they obtain him they are forced to abandon their unjustly acquired privileges. . .
      “How many would be enlightened by the faith of the Gospel if there were some who would put all their effort into finding good people who are willing to make sacrifices to search for and find not what belongs to them, but what belongs to Jesus Christ. In these lands so many people come to faith in Jesus Christ that many times my arms fail me because of the painful work of baptizing them.”
Arm of St. Francis Xavier in the church of the Gesù, Rome
St. Francis Xavier is said to have baptized hundreds of thousands, beginning with his mission in India. He was an evangelizer who was not afraid to leave home and seek other shores to bring Good News to the poor.
May God, Mary, and all the angels and saints guide Pope Francis, who not only blessed the Church but also asked us to pray to God to bless him.


John Allen's portrait of Pope Francis can be found here

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