21 September 2013

The Pope's interview, a direct, frank commentary...part I-III

Taken from here: emphasis and comments mine.

Who Is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition (Most certainly very accurate, as all of us are, definitely a good way to start). It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.I ask Pope Francis point-blank: “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?” He stares at me in silence. I ask him if I may ask him this question. He nods and replies: “I ​​do not know what might be the most fitting description.... I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.(Lord Jesus, Son of David, Have Mercy on me a sinner)
The pope continues to reflect and concentrate, as if he did not expect this question, as if he were forced to reflect further. “Yes, perhaps I can say that I am a bit astute, that I can adapt to circumstances, but it is also true that I am a bit naïve (Naïve? as to what? towards what end?). Yes, but the best summary, the one that comes more from the inside and I feel most true is this: I am a sinner whom the Lord has looked upon.” And he repeats: “I ​​am one who is looked upon by the Lord. I always felt my motto, Miserando atque Eligendo [By Having Mercy and by Choosing Him], was very true for me.”
The motto is taken from the Homilies of Bede the Venerable, who writes in his comments on the Gospel story of the calling of Matthew: “Jesus saw a publican, and since he looked at him with feelings of love and chose him, he said to him, ‘Follow me.’” The pope adds: “I think the Latin gerund miserando is impossible to translate in both Italian and Spanish. I like to translate it with another gerund that does not exist: misericordiando [“mercy-ing”]. (Well, I like when words are not translated from Latin)
Pope Francis continues his reflection and says, jumping to another topic: “I do not know Rome well (Well, now is a good time to learn). I know a few things. These include the Basilica of St. Mary Major; I always used to go there. I know St. Mary Major, St. Peter’s...but when I had to come to Rome, I always stayed in [the neighborhood of] Via della Scrofa. From there I often visited the Church of St. Louis of France, and I went there to contemplate the painting of ‘The Calling of St. Matthew,’ by Caravaggio.

“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew. That’s me. I feel like him. Like Matthew.” Here the pope becomes determined, as if he had finally found the image he was looking for: “It is the gesture of Matthew that strikes me: he holds on to his money as if to say, ‘No, not me! No, this money is mine.’ Here, this is me, a sinner on whom the Lord has turned his gaze. And this is what I said when they asked me if I would accept my election as pontiff.” Then the pope whispers in Latin: “I am a sinner, but I trust in the infinite mercy and patience of our Lord Jesus Christ, and I accept in a spirit of penance.” (Reminds me very much of the words our Emeritus was rumored to have said after his election as Pontiff, "why me" or something to that shagrin....tis good to resign in the will of Christ Jesus, but that said, if one does not wish to bear the cross, one does have free will)

Why Did You Become a Jesuit?

I continue: “Holy Father, what made ​​you choose to enter the Society of Jesus? What struck you about the Jesuit order?”
“I wanted something more. But I did not know what. I entered the diocesan seminary. I liked the Dominicans and I had Dominican friends. But then I chose the Society of Jesus, which I knew well because the seminary was entrusted to the Jesuits (Well, if they're anything like the SJ's in the English speaking world, this can't be good). Three things in particular struck me about the Society: the missionary spirit, community and discipline (this must have been well practiced when he was in seminary, he must have seen this in action, because I do not think he would have been attracted otherwise). And this is strange, because I am a really, really undisciplined person (we've noticed). But their discipline, the way they manage their time—these things struck me so much.
“And then a thing that is really important for me: community (extrovert, I must say, even when I was in discernment for religious life...I was looking for authentic community...but communal life was not the first thing that attracted me to religious life, I'm not a people person, the community was there, it's good and useful, but well...). I was always looking for a community (yep). I did not see myself as a priest on my own. I need a community (yep, extrovert, as you can tell, I generally do not get along with those extrovert type people :p). And you can tell this by the fact that I am here in Santa Marta. At the time of the conclave I lived in Room 207. (The rooms were assigned by drawing lots.) This room where we are now was a guest room. I chose to live here, in Room 201, because when I took possession of the papal apartment, inside myself I distinctly heard a ‘no.’ The papal apartment in the Apostolic Palace is not luxurious. It is old, tastefully decorated and large, but not luxurious. But in the end it is like an inverted funnel. It is big and spacious, but the entrance is really tight. People can come only in dribs and drabs, and I cannot live without people (We can tell). I need to live my life with others. (That may be so, but I'm afraid if you wanted to stay religious and with a community, you should have declined to be appointed Bishop...and definitely declined to be Pope...In the words of a friend of mine, you've got to be crazy to desire to be Bishop)

What Does It Mean for a Jesuit to Be Bishop of Rome?

I ask Pope Francis about the fact that he is the first Jesuit to be elected bishop of Rome: “How do you understand the role of service to the universal church that you have been called to play in the light of Ignatian spirituality? What does it mean for a Jesuit to be elected pope? What element of Ignatian spirituality helps you live your ministry?”
“Discernment (Like deciding to ditch the red maryr shoes, the moazetta and stole right? ;),” he replies. “Discernment is one of the things that worked inside St. Ignatius. For him it is an instrument of struggle in order to know the Lord and follow him more closely )(Oh, this, yes, much better). I was always struck by a saying that describes the vision of Ignatius: non coerceri a maximo, sed contineri a minimo divinum est (“not to be limited by the greatest and yet to be contained in the tiniest—this is the divine”). I thought a lot about this phrase in connection with the issue of different roles in the government of the church, about becoming the superior of somebody else: it is important not to be restricted by a larger space, and it is important to be able to stay in restricted spaces (What?). This virtue of the large and small is magnanimity. Thanks to magnanimity, we can always look at the horizon from the position where we are. That means being able to do the little things of every day with a big heart open to God and to others. That means being able to appreciate the small things inside large horizons, those of the kingdom of God (Translation?).
“This motto,” the pope continues, “offers parameters to assume a correct position for discernment, in order to hear the things of God from God’s ‘point of view.’ According to St. Ignatius, great principles must be embodied in the circumstances of place, time and people (One slight problem, Ignatian spirituality is not for everyone, nothing wrong of course, but as a religious one must recognize that we're  not all called to the same thing). In his own way, John XXIII adopted this attitude with regard to the government of the church, when he repeated the motto, ‘See everything; turn a blind eye to much; correct a little.(One could argue that this didn't work so well)’ John XXIII saw all things, the maximum dimension, but he chose to correct a few, the minimum dimension. You can have large projects and implement them by means of a few of the smallest things. Or you can use weak means that are more effective than strong ones, as Paul also said in his First Letter to the Corinthians. (Well, different personalities govern differently)
I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change.“This discernment takes time (On this, I agree, change does not happen overnight, but destruction does). For example, many think that changes and reforms can take place in a short time (ditching proper choir dress for the Pope was a quick change ;)). I believe that we always need time to lay the foundations for real, effective change. And this is the time of discernment. Sometimes discernment instead urges us to do precisely what you had at first thought you would do later. And that is what has happened to me in recent months (Re-locatinon does that ya know). Discernment is always done in the presence of the Lord (Amen!), looking at the signs, listening to the things that happen, the feeling of the people (but I think there's a problem if you get too caught up in the emotional trauma of insert situation here), especially the poor (I hope we're not just thinking financially poor, but the spiritually poor as well). My choices (so we know this was you and not anyone else, good), including those related to the day-to-day aspects of life, like the use of a modest car, are related to a spiritual discernment that responds to a need that arises from looking at things, at people and from reading the signs of the times (Maybe this is just the non-people person in me, but I always say to heck with what people think or preceive, the reality is what the reality is, and one is not in control completely how one is perceived. I mean by that one can always say the right things, and do the right things, but peoples' opinions of you will be what they are, and that's how it will always be). Discernment in the Lord guides me in my way of governing (Which hopefully you'll do).
“But I am always wary of decisions made hastily (Hmmm, one can always put back on the proper choir dress it's not too late). I am always wary of the first decision, that is, the first thing that comes to my mind if I have to make a decision (This is very good, the first decision isn't always the best one, but then again, neither is the 2nd, or the 3rd or even the 4th...it's very important to be calcuated and be very precise, when making decisions). This is usually the wrong thing. I have to wait and assess (I suppose this is a good thing, if one is going to do something, do so correctly and without mistakes), looking deep into myself, taking the necessary time. The wisdom of discernment redeems the necessary ambiguity of life and helps us find the most appropriate means, which do not always coincide with what looks great and strong.”

Extra comments:

a. I think I've finally come to something I have in common with Pope Francis...a not so high opinion of one's self. I get the sense that he uses the simple phrase, I am a sinner because it's the most accurate, and quite frankly is true of all of us, as all of us fall short of the glory of God, (to varying degrees)
b. To the degree that he's naieve as he's described himself, this is quite true that he's an outsider and someone who isn't too much into the Roman way of things. The positive is that he says that he can adapt to the situations, the negative is it really hasn't been seen to this point. It's been mostly for better or for worse the exaltation of his own person and lot letting the situation form him (from what I have seen and in my own humble opinion of course)
c. The desire for community and being with the people is something that perhaps I'm a bit weary of because of my own lack of understanding of this desire. As someone who can't stand people and I generally seek to avoid any spotlight of any type (even as a teacher), the desire to be with people is something that I'll never fully get. I mean I like people, but in quotas, and perhaps the fact that there are 2 polarizing mindsets at odds with each other is one of the reasons I'm uncomfortable with him. Even when I was pursuing religious life, the communal aspect was not the first aspect that appealed to me. As I often times say, in spite of the people, I work with them. But really if one thinks about it, it's a different approach to the same problem. I'm sure that he is seeking to make Christ present....but while I, Benedict XVI and those like us, seek this by disappearing, Pope Francis seeks it by appearing and using his person to do so...I suppose it will have to be an agree to disagrree type of papacy.
d. His religious formation has a huge influence on him, this is clearly a strength, but at the same time, he's going to have to recognize that really, it's not time to be a religious anymore. Now you are Pope and the things that you were once able to do, you will no longer be able to do in the same way that you were as a religious. 
e. I must say to this point at least with what I've read, While I don't think Pope Francis and I will become best buddies, I'm starting to get a picture of where he's coming from, and while I disagree with the vast majority of prudential things that he's done, we'll see where this takes us. 

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