Thank you for subscribing to The Magazine of Eucharistic Spirituality during the Year of Mercy.
I was recently given a copy of Pope Francis’ The Name of God Is Mercy. In the book, a conversation with Vatican reporter Andrea Tornielli, the Holy Father sets forth, in the simplicity and directness we have come to expect of him, a vision of an all-merciful God.
I read the following in the concluding chapter, “Living the Holy Year of Mercy”:
“We have received freely, we give freely. We are called to serve Christ the Crucified through every marginalized person. We touch the flesh of Christ in he who is outcast, hungry, thirsty, naked, imprisoned, ill, unemployed, persecuted, in search of refuge. That is where we find our God; that is where we touch the Lord. Jesus himself told us, explaining the protocol for which we will all be judged, “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Mt 25:40)” (98-99).
This passage speaks to the critical nexus between belief and action, namely, that what we have come to experience and to believe deeply of God impels us to act in the name of God with regard to the world and others.
“We have received freely” is an expression of belief; “we give freely,” an expression of action. From the two emerges one’s spirituality, a distinctive way of being spiritual and of living in the power of God’s Spirit.
From the moment on the night of March 13, 2013, when he stepped out onto the balcony of Saint Peter’s, Pope Francis has been revealing much of himself and of his personal spirituality. His first act, after acknowledging those gathered in the square below, was to bow his head and ask for their blessing and prayers as he undertook the office of Successor of Peter and Bishop of Rome.
The Holy Father’s spirituality is many-faceted. It is at heart Ignatian, owing to his years of formation and leadership in the Society of Jesus. He values discernment and collaboration in seeking the will of God. His worldview is one of engagement and mutuality, reflecting a willingness to listen to and learn from others, even from those who might think differently than he does or who do not identify themselves as believers. As shepherd and teacher of the universal church, Francis has fearlessly called us to go to the margins, to the periphery, to find Christ and the challenge of gospel living and justice there. He is modest and self-effacing, admitting in the now-famous interview with Jesuit editor Antonio Spadaro in response to the question, “Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?”: “I do not know what might be the most fitting description. [Pause] I am a sinner. This is the most accurate definition. It is not a figure of speech, a literary genre. I am a sinner.” Francis’ warm smile and ease of gesture reflect a man who is at once compassionate, joyful, and at peace with himself.
It is a useful (and very necessary) thing for each of us to ponder every so often ― perhaps at an annual retreat or during spiritual direction ― what I truly believe and how this translates into action in my life. What is my underlying experience of God? Who is Jesus for me? Where do prayer and introspection factor into my life and work? How do I understand my relationship to others, in the church and beyond? What, and whom, do I feel passionately about? How does the Eucharist shape my life, my faith, my ministry? What is my spirituality?
In this Issue
Prayer and spirituality ground this issue of Emmanuel, which includes lighter reading for the transition to summer. John Christman, SSS, introduces us to Cleveland contemplative nun Mother Mary Thomas, whose zeal for the Eucharist is expressed both in prayer and in the murals she creates. Lou Ella Hickman, IWBS, offers a series of reflections and questions on the eucharistic undertones of some popular films, and Victor M. Parachin has written an overview of Teresa of Avila, whose 500th anniversary of birth was last year.
Roger J. Landry, a priest serving in the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, shares a homiletic reflection on the consecrated life.
Anthony Schueller, SSS