It was "white smoke" one year ago today

Pope Francis washes young prisoners' feet on Holy Thursday 2013

Pope Francis was elected on March 13, 2013.  In this first year of his ministry his words have been challenging and comforting, and often surprising, disarming and provocative.  Here are just a few quotes to ponder on this first anniversary:

• The Lord never tires of forgiving. It is we who tire of asking for forgiveness.  (Angelus, March 17, 2013)

• This is precisely the reason for the dissatisfaction of some, who end up sad - sad priests - in some sense becoming collectors of antiques or novelties, instead of being shepherds living with 'the odor of the sheep.' This I ask you: Be shepherds, with the 'odor of the sheep,' make it real, as shepherds among your flock, fishers of men. (Chrism Mass, March 28, 2013).

• Men and women are sacrificed to the idols of profit and consumption: it is the 'culture of waste.' If a computer breaks it is a tragedy, but poverty, the needs and dramas of so many people end up being considered normal. ... When the stock market drops 10 points in some cities, it constitutes a tragedy. Someone who dies is not news, but lowering income by 10 points is a tragedy! In this way people are thrown aside as if they were trash.  (General audience, June 5, 2013).

What mission does this people have? To bring to the world the hope and the salvation of God: to be a sign of the love of God who calls all to be friends of His; to be the yeast that ferments the dough, the salt that gives flavour and preserves from decay, the light that brightens. Just as I said, it is enough to open a newspaper and we see that around us there is the presence of evil, the Devil is at work. But I would like to say in a loud voice: God is stronger! Do you believe this? That God is stronger? Let’s say it in a loud voice: God is stronger! (Angelus, June 12, 2013)

Let the Church always be a place of mercy and hope, where everyone is welcomed, loved and forgiven. (Papal Tweet @pontifex June 16, 2013)

• Faith is not a light which scatters all our darkness, but a lamp which guides our steps in the night and suffices for the journey. To those who suffer, God does not provide arguments which explain everything; rather, his response is that of an accompanying presence, a history of goodness which touches every story of suffering and opens up a ray of light.(Lumen Fidei, June 29, 2013)

• We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context...We have to find a new balance; otherwise even the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards, losing the freshness and fragrance of the Gospel.  (Interview with Jesuit Catholic journals around the world, Sept. 30, 2013)
• The Church is called to be the house of the Father, with doors always wide open. One concrete sign of such openness is that our church doors should always be open, so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door. There are other doors that should not be closed either. Everyone can share in some way in the life of the Church; everyone can be part of the community, nor should the doors of the sacraments be closed for simply any reason. This is especially true of the sacrament which is itself “the door”: baptism. The Eucharist, although it is the fullness of sacramental life, is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak. These convictions have pastoral consequences that we are called to consider with prudence and boldness. Frequently, we act as arbiters of grace rather than its facilitators. But the Church is not a tollhouse; it is the house of the Father, where there is a place for everyone, with all their problems.    (Evangelii Gaudium, Nov. 24, 2013).

• Unfortunately, what is thrown away is not only food and dispensable objects, but often human beings themselves, who are discarded as ‘unnecessary.’ For example, it is frightful even to think there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day. (Annual address to Vatican diplomats, January 13, 2014)
• Gossip can also kill, because it kills the reputation of the person! It is so terrible to gossip! At first it may seem like a nice thing, even amusing, like enjoying a candy. But in the end, it fills the heart with bitterness, and even poisons us. (Angelus, Feb. 16, 2014).

• The perfect family doesn't exist, nor is there a perfect husband or a perfect wife, and let's not talk about the perfect mother-in-law! It's just us sinners. A healthy family life requires frequent use of three phrases: "May I? Thank you, and I'm sorry"  And never, never, never end the day without making peace.  (Meeting with engaged couples, Feb. 14, 2014).

Lent is a fitting time for self-denial; we would do well to ask ourselves what we can give up in order to help and enrich others by our own poverty. Let us not forget that real poverty hurts: no self-denial is real without this dimension of penance. I distrust a charity that costs nothing and does not hurt. (Lenten Message 2014)


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