As the Family Goes

JP II Quote

"As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live." John Paul II

Saturday, March 16, 2013

All things in Love

What an exciting experience we had this week to witness the election of Pope Francis with our children!  I have been reading up as much as I can about who this man is, and delving into his homilies and writings, and already feel so touched by who he is, who the Lord has given to us as the Vicar of Christ.

Yesterday we read the Pope's lenten letter to his diocese in Buenos Aires in February, while he was still Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.  In it he speaks of the need to "rend our hearts" so that we are not simply going through the motions, but so that our hearts are converted to the Lord.  I find this so convicting, because it's so easy to just make your lenten laundry list and check things off, judging your progress by how well you fare at the end of lent.

In his reflection, the Cardinal quoted St. John Chrysostom:

"No act of virtue can be large if it does not also benefit another... Therefore, no matter how you spend the day fasting, no matter how you may sleep on a hard floor, and how you may eat ashes and sigh continuously, if do not do good to others, you do not accomplish anything great."

And it was like a light bulb went off.  This good that I've set out to do, to stop grinding my teeth so that I can stop losing my temper with the kids, well it doesn't do any good if it's not for their good.  Not my good, theirs.  In other words, if I make it through the day without grinding my teeth, or without yelling, but have not treated them with love - so what?  The purpose of gaining self control does not end with me, it is so that I can give to them something better, something good.

I spoke with a good friend this morning, who shared with me how she feels the Lord is using the new Pope to teach the world about the dignity of the human person.  Already we hear about this man, who as Cardinal of Buenos Aires turned down the lavish residence he was entitled to in this role to instead share an apartment with an older priest, and who regularly visited the slums of Buenos Aires, and who as a new Pope declined the limousine ordered for him to ride instead in a modest sedan, who paid his own hotel bill (in person!), who rode the bus with the cardinals back into the Vatican, and who personally called the Father General of the Jesuits in Rome to thank him for a letter sent to him following his election - he lives by example.  He cares about the human person, the individual person, and is willing to forego protocol to be personally present, to make a real connection.  And when my friend shared her thoughts with me, I was immediately reminded of the words I read in his lenten reflection last night, and I realized that the Lord was also trying to teach me of the dignity of the human person - myself, and those around me.  That the purpose of my lenten observances, all of them (not just those having to do with my temper) is to learn how to love those around me better, to treat them with dignity.  And it all came together for me - this man, this Holy Father, appointed by God, his teaching and his example taking root in my heart.

"I know your works, your labor, your service, your endurance, yet I hold this against you, for you have lost the love you had at first." (Revelation 2:2-4)

May my lenten observances serve to deepen the love I have for those around me, and for the dignity of the human person, so that through the guidance of the Church and under the leadership of our new Pope, I may love as Christ loves.

Habemus Papem - We have a pope!

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