Pope Francis was officially inaugurated today. I don’t claim to be an expert in Catholicism. I do understand the need for the Protestant Reformation and the distinctives between Catholicism and Protestantism. I have several Catholic friends that I consider to be evangelical Catholics; some are even charismatic. I consider my friends to be brothers and sisters in Christ. When I pastored in Russellville, Arkansas, one of my good friends was the local priest, Father Dollar. He was a Franciscan Monk. He had taken a vow of poverty, yet every time we went to lunch he insisted on buying. The Monday after I resigned from the church in Russellville, Father Dollar was the first person (outside my church) to call and express his love and prayers for me. Around Christmas time I would attend 1 or 2 of his morning mass and he always served me communion. He was a dear brother.
I liked Pope Benedict and think he showed great courage in stepping down. His book, Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in Jordan to the Transfiguration, is worth the read.
So far, I like Pope Francis. In 1 short week he has made humility cool. I pray he can stay humble. I deeply admire Pope Francis’ love for the poor and vulnerable. In his inaugural address he called on all of us to defend the weakest in our society.
And so today, I pray for Pope Francis and the Catholic Church. I pray he can transform/reform the church and get rid of the corruption and abuse inside the church. I also pray for Christianity as a whole. I pray for unity and I pray that I can follow the Pope’s lead and live a life of simplicity and humility.
Pope Francis named himself after St. Francis of Assisi. I think it is appropriate to end this post with one of his prayers:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury,pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life. Amen