A Big Heart Open to God, the interview with Pope Francis published in America Magazine. Everyone seems to have their own take on it, especially regarding his statements about abortion and homosexuality. When I read the interview, those hot-topic points didn't stand out to me as having any variance from standard Church teaching. What I did learn in reading the interview is that our Pope is a humble, joyful, personable man who beautifully compares himself to Matthew the tax-collector, "a sinner upon whom the Lord has turned his gaze." Instead of focusing on the huge debates of our day, our beautiful Holy Father chooses to focus on mercy and love for all people, perfectly following and teaching the age-old disciplines of our Church.
I found the entire interview to be a fascinating glimpse into the background, thoughts and insights of our Pope, but I have to say that there were a few particular points that made me stop in my tracks and take notice.
Perhaps it's because I see myself as a wounded soul, and we're all wounded in one way or another, and also because the clients with whom I work are often suffering from the pains of life that have nothing to do with the nutrition counseling for which I am trained to help them, that I found this passage to be deeply moving and true:
thing the church needs most today is the ability to heal wounds and to
warm the hearts of the faithful; it needs nearness, proximity. I see the
church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a
seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level
of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about
everything else. Heal the wounds, heal the wounds.... And you have to
start from the ground up."
I also enjoyed learning about how the Pope prays. An hour at the end of each day spent before our Eucharistic Lord is so spiritually healthy, and what a wonderful example he gives for all of us with this daily form of prayer. I found it particularly humanizing that he confesses that he sometimes gets distracted or falls asleep during his moments of prayer. That bit of knowledge helps me to feel a little less alone in my own distractions and drowsiness during prayer.
But by far, for me, the highlight of the interview was the section on Art and Creativity. How wonderful to gain that little insight into the Pope's favorite artists, movies, books and music! I couldn't wait to listen to his favorite composers and the music that moves his heart. I immediately had to look up all of the compositions he mentioned, none of which I had ever heard of before. Pope Francis mentioned his favorite: "The piece by Bach that I love so much is the ‘Erbarme Dich,’ the tears of Peter in the ‘St. Matthew Passion.’ Sublime." I completely agree with the Pope, it is sublime; the title alone is achingly poignant. Just listen to it here and see if you don't also agree!
And if you are hungry for more of Pope Francis, I highly recommend reading The Light of Faith-Lumen Fidei, his first encyclical, begun by Pope Emeritus Benedict. It's now available in hardcover through Ignatius Press. I share my thoughts on it here.