PORTUGAL, Lena Castro Valente •
March 13th is the 10th anniversary of Francis’ Pontificate. I remember exactly where I was, with whom I was… in the very long minutes before the arrival of the new Pope at the Loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica. Who would it be? Who had been elected? I had a Mass scheduled in my Parish for 7 in the afternoon of that March 13 in memory of my dear mother. And, the new Pope didn’t show up… time went by, and soon I realized that I wouldn’t make it to Mass on time. Until finally, “Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemos Papam”, Jorge Mario Bergoglio who will be known as Francis without anything else because I, II or III is for kings. —
And this new Pope introduced himself as the Bishop of Rome, humbly asked us to pray for him and wished us a good dinner.
The three fundamental pillars of Francis’ ministry
In these ten years we have witnessed the substantial implementation of the Second Vatican Council in the life of the Church, which has led to a renewal that, like a boat (as Fr. Kentenich liked to refer to it), has let its sails be fueled by the strong wind of the Holy Spirit, with an excellent helmsman at the helm – Francis, who is not afraid to take risks and steers the ship Duc in Altum, leaving behind the shallower and better-known waters, abandoning coasting navigation to steer it to the New Beaches. The Pope of synodality does not go alone in the boat, he does not like to walk alone, but with everyone: whom he considers brothers and friends and never adversaries. Our founder also professed this same attitude.
We can say very simply that this Pontificate rests on three fundamental pillars:
The poor, peace, and Creation.
“Do not forget the poor“
These words of Brazilian Cardinal D. Claudio Hummes said at the moment he embraced him to congratulate him on his election – he was the first – had a strong impact on Jorge Bergoglio and, led him to the singular choice of the name by which he wanted to be known (let’s not forget that Bergoglio is a Jesuit), the name of the Poverello of Assisi.
And, the mystery of Mercy impregnated the whole Church with concrete works and signs…
“…God’s infinite love and mercy for his children are perhaps the greatest point of encounter between Pope Francis and our Father and Founder. The two have the same yearning, the same conviction: that this message of Mercy reach the Man of today, who needs it so much” (Words of Father John Pablo Catoggio at the 22nd Feast of the Sion Shrine in 2016).
“We always need to contemplate the mystery of mercy. It is a source of joy, serenity, and peace. It is the condition of our salvation. Mercy: it is the word that reveals the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Mercy: is the ultimate and supreme act by which God comes to meet us. Mercy: is the fundamental law that dwells in the heart of each person, when he sees with sincere eyes the brother he meets on the path of life. Mercy: is the path that unites God and man, because it opens our hearts to the hope of being loved forever, despite the limitation of our sin. (Misericordiae Vultus – 11/4/2015)
With this Bull, Francis announced an Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy which, ran from December 8, 2015 to November 20, 2016. The Pope wanted, through various concrete gestures that, the Church could reach out to everyone so that everyone could experience acts of tenderness, concern and care. “A second perspective will be concretized through some signs that Pope Francis will perform symbolically by reaching some existential “peripheries” to personally give witness of closeness and attention to the poor, the suffering, the marginalized and all those who need a sign of tenderness.” .(Conference introducing the Holy Year of Mercy)
The Pope without existential borders
To speak of Francis is to speak of the Church going out, it is to speak of caring for the existential peripheries, it is to speak of the Church – Field Hospital, where all are welcomed without questions, without prejudice, without distinction of creed… To speak of Francis is to speak of concrete works of mercy that reach like capillaries the most hidden tissues of the social organism.
To speak of Francis is to speak of a Pope who opens and blesses a Holy Door of Charity in a Caritas shelter in Rome, making it as holy as the Door of St. Peter’s Basilica “Francis opened the Holy Door of Charity on the occasion of the Jubilee of Mercy at the Caritas “D. Luigi Di Liegro” shelter adjacent to Termini railway station in the center of the Italian capital.” A cafeteria for those who have nothing to eat and are also thirsty for love and tenderness, and where the Pope celebrated the Eucharist as he would have done in St. Peter’s.
To speak of Francis is to speak of his concern for the homeless in St. Peter’s Square. So that they could also have access to health care, he opened a clinic next to the barbershop and sanitary facilities and the hairdresser’s. Because the affirmation of our dignity also involves the basic hygiene care we give to our bodies.
To speak of Francis is to speak of the Fridays of Mercy when, so often by surprise, he visited those whom nobody remembers to visit because they have no status, and would even be better kept at a distance.
To speak of Francis is to speak of the Pope of Holy Thursdays in prisons, celebrating away from the public eye in order to preserve the right to intimacy of the detainees, and where the creed professed does not imply exclusion but an act of service coming from the Pope himself.
To speak of Francis is to speak of the World Day of the Poor that he launched and whose first edition in 2017 had as its Motto: “Let us not love with words, but with deeds.
To speak of Francis is to speak of his concern and defense of Migrants, being a Church on the way out, and urging everyone to welcome them, setting an example himself, calling Urbi et Orbi for governments and rulers to attend to this social problem and help solve it. Since the beginning of his Pontificate, this Day of Migrants and Refugees has been emphasized so that we do not forget. To that end, “Pope Francis presented on Sunday, September 29, 2019, World Refugee Day, in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, a large bronze sculpture that, represents a boat with migrants and refugees from all peoples and times.
To speak of Francis is to speak of a transparent of God’s Mercy.
Schoenstatters’ Covenant of Solidarity with Pope Francis
From the first hour of his pontificate, Francis occupied the pages of schoenstatt.org and the hearts of the Schoenstatters. Some even knew him personally or had had close contact with those closest to him. It was no surprise to them, therefore, that this Pope with the smell of sheep did not just comb the sheep, but shared their lives and their difficulties. Francis is the Archbishop of the Villas, he is the Archbishop who rode public transportation, who lived in a room in the Cathedral to be closer to everyone. Francis is the Pope who calls Mary his mother: “She is my mother.
For all this, and put briefly, he seemed so “Schoenstatt-like.” The center of our spirituality is the Covenant of Love with Mary, and he kept asking us to pray for him, it’s like a leitmotif of his, what if we strengthened our prayers with a Covenant in solidarity with him? Not least because the path undertaken was beginning to show itself to be full of thorns.
This is how the covenant of solidarity of the members of schoenstatt.org with Francis was made on 31 May 2013. And it is renewed every year on the same date: May 31. Schoenstatt’s third historic milestone – the Mission. Schoenstatt going forth.
And what concrete gesture would we associate with this Covenant in Solidarity? It would have to be a work of mercy!
The project of 100 houses for extremely needy families in Paraguay was born.
“In the middle of a work meeting, a journalist – she is from the Focolare Movement – suddenly asks me: What are you in Schoenstatt doing with the Year of Mercy? “We are building 100 houses for poor families,” I answer. Silence, and then: “How concrete.”
“In real life we are asked: Schoenstatt, what do you do? What does it do for us? … “we touch the flesh of Christ in brothers and sisters who need to be nourished, clothed, housed, visited.” That is what Jesus will ask us, that day.
And we will say: Jesus, we build houses for your preferred ones, for two hundred of your families… We build houses for you.” (Maria Fischer)
And the houses did not stop at 100, but reached 217, in Alliance in Solidarity with Francis.
Original: Portuguese. Translation: Maria Fischer @schoenstatt.org