Yesterday Pope Francis held a mass at the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside the Walls: “Inconsistency is undermining the Church’s credibility. One cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life ”
Giacomo Galeazzi Taken from Vatican Insider
“Inconsistency is undermining the Church’s credibility. One cannot proclaim the Gospel of Jesus without the tangible witness of one’s life.” This was Pope Francis’ message as he warned against careerism during yesterday’s Eucharistic celebration in the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls – his first visit as Bishop of Rome, to the basilica that houses St. Paul’s tomb.
Francis was welcomed by the Benedictine community and Abbot Edmund Power explained that “As all Popes do, Francis entered the courtyard with the four rows of columns, where the Basilica’s main façade is and after greeting the community, he put on his sacred vestments.” After making his entry in a great procession, Francis presided mass from his throne in the apse. When the mass ended, a moment was dedicated to the veneration of icon of the Virgin Mary, before which St. Ignatius of Loyola pronounced his religious profession in the 1500’s. “Inconsistency on the part of pastors and the faithful between what they say and what they do, between word and manner of life, is undermining the Church’s credibility,” Bergoglio lamented. He went on to add that “Those who listen to us and observe us must be able to see in our actions what they hear from our lips, and so give glory to God!” We must, he stressed, bear witness to Christ by giving ourselves without calculation, sometimes even at the cost of our own life.” The Pope then used some strong words, calling all believers to ask themselves about the “idols” that take over the place in our hearts that should be reserved for God.
The Argentinean pope therefore invited people “to strip [themselves] of [their] many idols and to worship him alone. Idols in which we seek safety and often place our trust in.” “These are idols we often keep well hidden away.” “They could be ambition, careerism, a taste for success, placing ourselves at the centre of things, a tendency to put ourselves above others, the expectation that we are the ones who have exclusive control of our lives, a sin to which we are strongly tied and many others.” “This evening – Francis confided to the clergy and faithful gathered in St. Paul’s Basilica – I would like one question to echo through the hearts of each and every one of us and I would like us to answer it sincerely: have I thought about which hidden idol in my life is preventing me from worshipping the Lord?”
“Striping ourselves of our most hidden idols and choosing to put the Lord at the centre, making him the main pathway in our lives,” Pope Francis said. “Dear brothers and sisters,” concluded Pope Francis, “each day the Lord calls us to follow him with courage and fidelity; he has made us the great gift of choosing us as his disciples; he sends us to proclaim him with joy as the Risen one, but he asks us to do so by word and by the witness of our lives, in daily life. The Lord is the only God of our lives , and he invites us to strip ourselves of our many idols and to worship him alone.” Francis illustrated “the ‘hidden’ saints” as “a sort of ‘middle class of holiness’.” “Announcing, witnessing, worshipping.” These are the three verbs the Pope wanted faithful to reflect on as he celebrated mass in close proximity to “the tomb of St. Paul, a humble and great Apostle of the Lord , who announced him with the word, witnessed him with martyrdom and worshipped him wholeheartedly.”
The Pope stressed the fact that “Peter and the Apostles’ announcement is not just made up of words. Loyalty to Christ touches their lives, which change and gain a new direction and they bear witness to the faith and the announcement of Christ with their lives.” Abbot Edmund Power said: “The Pope’s visits are immensely important to us because we believe our Benedictine community was founded around 720 by Pope Gregory II, for the purpose of assisting the Pope in welcoming pilgrims on their visits to Paul’s tomb. So there has always been this special bond between us and the Pope, the Bishop of Rome. And we see ourselves as the papal monastery. This is Pope Francis’ first visit, him being a member of a religious order (a Jesuit) like us. We are very happy to have welcomed him in St. Paul’s Basilica, in “his” monastic community, which is here to assist him his role as Bishop of Rome and pastor of the universal church, serving pilgrims who come to Rome.”
People often speak of the Bishop of Rome’s Petrine ministry. But ever since the beginning, the Church of Rome has not just been Peter’s Church: it is both Peter and Paul’s Church and the two apostles together are symbols of a complete Church, of its integrity, unity, centrality, missionary meaning and dynamism; both aspects are equally important. In my eyes, he is the successor of peter in his ministry, a “Peter-Pauline” ministry. This is what can be said by an abbot from St. Paul Outside the Walls.” Even the prospect of “being whipped, insulted or imprisoned” did not stop him.
“And what about us?” he asked: “are we capable of bringing the Word of God into our lives’ various circles? Are we able to talk about Christ and what he represents to us, with our families and people that are part of our everyday lives?” “Faith – he pointed out – comes from listening and is strengthened by announcing it” But this announcement “is not just about words.” The testimony of the early communities shows us that “faithfulness to Christ touched their lives, which changed and were given a new direction. It is by living that Christians bear witness to the faith and the announcement of Christ.”
Pope Francis contrasted this transparency of faith with the “idols” that detach us from faith. Among these, he mentioned the “careerism” of clergymen. “Each and every one of us is conscious or perhaps unconscious of attributing more or less importance to things, creating a precise order. Worshiping the Lord means giving him the space he should be given in our lives; worshipping the Lord means acknowledging and believing – not just through words – that only He is is the real guide in our lives; worshipping the Lord means standing before him in the conviction that he is the only God, the God of our lives and of our history.”