Pope Francis – Year 1

Evading security.  Owning a Harley.  Bouncer at clubs.  Smuggling people out of the country.

Sounds like a bad guy, doesn’t it?  Or maybe, it’s our Pope!  Pope Francis3

Pope Francis has just finished his first year of his pontificate and this man, who has opened his arms so wide to the world has only just begun to amaze us!  He is a new pope for a new age – one of technology and new social issues.  Although in his late 70’s, he has embraced his position as leader of the Catholic Church with such zeal and passion that he seems to wear out his own staff and security detail.  In fact, he has been reported to sneak off from his personal security guards disguised as a priest late at night to assist at homeless shelters. 

But he has stepped out of the comfort zone of former popes, willing to take selfies with Vatican visitors and tweeting regularly.    He also has not been shy to face social issues that some wish he would not address.  Although the media still takes his bold statements upholding the Church’s values on social issues and twists them to fit their agenda, Pope Francis is still pleased that his message of helping the poor is getting out too.  His love of the poor is so great that his actions mirror his devotion, giving away or auctioning off vehicles he has received for the benefit of the poor.  Recently, Harley-Davidson gave Pope Francis a motorcycle that he signed and had auctioned off for $326,000 to benefit a Rome homeless shelter and soup kitchen.

He also displays his love of the poor through his own simple life, choosing a much plainer apartment than the Apostolic Palace, carrying his own bag on trips, wearing less grand garb when not at mass.  He encourages Catholics worldwide to strip themselves of attachments to earthly goods, finding greater value in people than in dollar signs.

His papal message is simple in word but extensive in deed.  He speaks of mercy, forgiveness, evangelization, treasuring all life, valuing the family, simplicity, holiness and love.  And then he puts all of those words into action and has definitely inspired others to do the same.  He is reaching beyond the Catholic Church to touch those desiring a reason to find a closer relationship with God.

This Lent, I hope to take lessons from our Pope Francis and strip away attachment to material possessions, seek forgiveness through Reconciliation, simplifying my life and showing a greater love and value for my family and friends.

By the way – Pope Francis did work as a bouncer in clubs before his priesthood!  And as a priest in Argentina, he ran a clandestine organization that assisted people persecuted by the merciless military dictatorship by hiding them or leading them to safe locations, sometimes out of the country.

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