FRANCIS IN ROME •
Not being tied to “rigid obedience” to the law, allowing the Holy Spirit to inspire us, opening ourselves without fear and allowing the Holy Spirit to take us forward are the three attitudes that Pope Francis advised in his homily during morning Mass in the house chapel at Casa Santa Marta on 6 October. Francis reflected on the scripture readings for the day, which speak about the Holy Spirit, the “great gift from the Father,” the strength that makes the Church go out courageously, reaching “even to the ends of the earth”
The Holy Spirit — said Francis — is the protagonist of this going forward in the Church. Without Him, one is “closed, afraid.”
Openness to the Holy Spirit as the most important condition for the Christian, the docility of the Holy Spirit rather tying oneself to norms, laws and ideas that become ideologies, is one of Pope Francis’ favourite topics. This point, which parallels Fr. Kentenich, who makes his whole Schoenstatt Family pray: “”Open our hearts to the Spirit of God…”
The prayer written in the Dachau concentration camp does not end there, a place which, according to Fr. Kentenich, after the first “test of reality” in the trenches of World War I, once again was a crucial encounter of the Covenant of Love with the extreme peripheries of the real world. Knowing that the Covenant of Love had passed the test and having the intuition that a greater danger was not the areas of risk, but rather the areas of comfort, Fr. Kentenich continues to pray: “Open our souls for the Spirit of God, that he may change the course of the world.” (Heavenwards, Rosary of God’s Instruments).
By opening ourselves to Francis’ words in this homily, we feel that the two share the same concern: the new Pentecost, opening ourselves to the Holy Spirit and overcoming fear.
1 Do not reduce the Spirit and the Son to the Law
The Pope spoke about three attitudes we can adopt in relation to the Holy Spirit.
The first is the one which St. Paul reproaches the Galatians, knowledge: believing that they are justified by the Law and not by Jesus “who gives meaning to the Law.” Thus, they are “too rigid.” The are the same people who attacked the Lord, who called them “hypocrites.”
“This attachment to the law ignores the Holy Spirit, It does not take into account that “the power of Christ’s redemption proceeds by means of the Spirit.” They ignore it. The Law alone. “There are commandments, and we must follow the commandments”, but always from the view “of the grace of this great gift, which has been given to us by the Father” his Son is the gift of the Holy Spirit. Only then can we truly understand the law.. But not reduce the Spirit and the Son to the Law This was the Galatians’ problem: they ignored the Holy Spirit and did not know how to go further. They were closed, enclosed by prescriptions: you should do this, you should do that. Sometimes, we can also fall into this temptation.
The Doctors of the Law – said the Pope – “bewitch people with ideas.”
“Why do ideologies bewitch, and Paul begins with this: ‘Foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you? Those who preach ideology: It is all fair! They bewitch: Every thing is clear! But look at God’s revelation – sometimes it’s not clear.. God’s revelation can be found day by day, more and more, always on the way. Is it clear? Yes! Clear as anything! It is Him, but we need to find it along the way. And those who believe they hold the whole truth in their hands are not ignorant, but Paul tells them: “Fools” For having allowed themselves to be bewitched.
2 Do not fall into Christian mediocrity
The second attitude is “grieving the Holy Spirit.” This happens, explained the Pope, when we “do not allow him to inspire us, take us forward in the Christian life,” “do not allow Him to tell us what to do not with the theology of the law but with the freedom of the Spirit.” This is how we “become lukewarm,” and fall into “Christian mediocrity” because the Holy Spirit cannot do “great works in us.”
2 Forward, forward, forward
The third attitude is precisely “opening ourselves to the Spirit, and allowing the Spirit to lead us forward. This is what happened to the Apostles when they received courage on Pentecost. They lost their fear and became open to the Holy Spirit. In order “to understand, to receive the word of Jesus, it is necessary to open ourselves to the Holy Spirit. And when a man, a woman, is open to the Holy Spirit, he or she is like a sailboat swept by the wind, and goes forward, forward, forward, and never stops.” But it is necessary to “pray in order to be open to the Holy Spirit.”
“We can ask ourselves today, in a moment of the day: Am I ignorant of the Holy Spirit?” “And do I know that if I go to Sunday Mass, if I do this, if I do that, it’s enough? Secondly: Is my life a half a life, lukewarm, which grieves the Holy Spirit, and does not give me the strength to move forward, to open myself? Or is my life “a continuous prayer to be opened to the Holy Spirit, in order that he might carry me forward with the joy of the Gospel, and make me understand the doctrine of Jesus – the true doctrine, which does not bewitch us, which does not make us foolish – but the truth?” The Holy Spirit who makes us understand where our weakness is, which saddens him, and what takes us forward, also taking forward the name of Jesus to others and teaching the way of salvation. May the Lord give us this grace: to be open to the Holy Spirit so that we do not become foolish or bewitched, nor men and women who sadden the Holy Spirit.
Photo above: Catholic University Missions, Paraguay
Original: Spanish. Translation: Sarah-Leah Pimerentel, Cape Town, South Africa