Wednesday, February 5, 2014

A Big Heart Open to God

A Big Heart Open to God-A Conversation with Pope Francis has the full interview with Pope Francis
that was granted to Antonio Spadaro, S.J. six months after Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis.  The book also includes responses to the interview by some select Catholics

Reading the full interview with Pope Francis was amazing.  In the very near beginning of the book, Pope Francis was talking about how he has often visited The Church of St. Louis of France, and contemplates the painting of The Calling of St. Matthew by Caravaggio that is in the church.

“That finger of Jesus, pointing at Matthew.  That’s me.  I feel like him. Like Matthew…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.’”

The interview reads so beautifully.  I was struck by so many things, but one that I had not heard about was where he spoke of his grandmother:

“….This was the sanctity of my parents: my dad, my mom, my grandmother Rosa, who loved me so much.  In my breviary I have the last will of my grandmother Rosa, and I read it often.  For me it is like a prayer.  She is a saint who has suffered so much, also spiritually, and yet always went forward with courage.”

I am always taken with hearing of others speak of their grandparents, because mine were so special to me…I feel a special bond with others who also felt so close to their grandparents.  And his words about his grandmother speak so lovingly of his humanity.

I ended up underlining and marking much of this book for myself.  His words truly spoke to me.  I was most struck by the chapter of Certitude and Mistakes where Pope Francis discussed discernment.  I could fill this whole blog piece with my underlings and thoughts, but I will leave it for the reader to find their own thoughts and feelings as they read the book.

This is a very short book.  Half of the book is the interview and the other half is the responses by others.  The book ends with Spiritual Reflections on the Papal Interview by James Martin, SJ.  I am a follower of Fr. Martin’s writings, so I was especially pleased to see this.  His writing about the interview is wonderful.  The article is divided into sections from the Pope’s interview where Fr. Martin shares his insights and questions for reflection.  Other than the actual interview, this was the best part of the book for me.

This is the perfect book for learning about the man Pope Francis.  Loved it.

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