An Encouraging Word — Restoring credibility

Father J. Ronald Knott

Father J. Ronald Knott

You became a believer because you saw me. John 20:29

It is amazing to watch something I never thought I would live to see — Pope Francis’ crusade to clean up the church, starting at the top!
First he declared that he is, himself, “a sinner!” Second, he laid into the Curia, outlining the 15 sins they need to address. Third, he tells the whole church on a regular basis: “Go to the margins!”

It reminds me of a similar crusade — one led by St. Bernard of Clairvaux, the 12th century abbot and Doctor of the Church. He told Pope Eugenius III that if he would “clean up the church,” he must (a) consider himself, (b) consider those below him, (c) consider those around him and (d) consider him who is above him.

“You must first
consider yourself.”
Pope Francis teaches the whole church (and us) Gospel simplicity through personal example, not just fancy words. His ministry is uncharacteristically simple and ordinary. Who can forget him paying his own hotel bill after his election or carrying his own tray in the hotel cafeteria last summer? Who cannot notice his avoidance of showy vestments and insignias? Who can forget the picture of him kneeling at a confessional in St. Peter’s last Lent? It is authentic. It is who he is, not something he does to play to the cameras.

“You must consider
those below you.”
Pope Francis reminded his Cardinals (and us), “I urge you to serve Jesus crucified in every person who is emarginated, for whatever reason; to see the Lord in every excluded person who is hungry, thirsty, naked; to see the Lord present even in those who have lost their faith, or turned away from the practice of their faith, or say that they are atheists; to see the Lord who is imprisoned, sick, unemployed, persecuted; to see the Lord in the leper — whether in body or soul — who encounters discrimination!”

“You must consider
those around you.”
Pope Francis told his Curia (and us) in no uncertain terms the type of people he wants surrounding him to help him carry out his mission: “A curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm Body.” It is the disease of those who “turn into masters and feel superior to everyone rather than in the service of all people.”

“You must consider
Him who is above you.”
Pope Francis stressed to those who work closest to him (and us) that they were never to forget what is most essential. He warned against the diseases of excessive activity — the disease of those who, like Martha in the Gospel, lose themselves in their work — and the disease of mental and spiritual “petrification,” the disease of those who lose their internal peace, their vivacity and audacity, to hide under papers and become “procedural machines” instead of men of God.
Thank God for Pope Francis!

Father J. Ronald Knott

To read more from Father Knott, visit his new blog: FatherKnott.com.

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