So as a certified Catholic blogger I of course have to write about the new Apostolic Exhortation released today from Pope Francis. Still it would be much smarter on your part to just go read it. Since his first encyclical was likely largely written by Pope emeritus Benedict XVI I had been very interested in seeing Pope Francis’ own style came out in a longer document. I am very impressed with what he had to say and I must also say quite challenged.
The problem with reading Church documents is that it is easy to slip into “hobby-horse” mode where you look to be affirmed in what you think is most important. Or you look for things that other people need to change about themselves. So I was quite delighted to find this in the document under spiritual reading and I think describes this temptation quite well.
- 153. In the presence of God, during a recollected reading of the text, it is good to ask, for example: “Lord, what does this text say to me? What is it about my life that you want to change by this text? What troubles me about this text? Why am I not interested in this? Or perhaps: What do I find pleasant in this text? What is it about this word that moves me? What attracts me? Why does it attract me?” When we make an effort to listen to the Lord, temptations usually arise. One of them is simply to feel troubled or burdened, and to turn away. Another common temptation is to think about what the text means for other people, and so avoid applying it to our own life. It can also happen that we look for excuses to water down the clear meaning of the text. Or we can wonder if God is demanding too much of us, asking for a decision which we are not yet prepared to make. This leads many people to stop taking pleasure in the encounter with God’s word; but this would mean forgetting that no one is more patient than God our Father, that no one is more understanding and willing to wait. He always invites us to take a step forward, but does not demand a full response if we are not yet ready. He simply asks that we sincerely look at our life and present ourselves honestly before him, and that we be willing to continue to grow, asking from him what we ourselves cannot as yet achieve.
There are going to be a lot of people very unhappy with this document if properly “misunderstood”. One strain of Catholics will be upset about what he said on women’s ordination an abortion and another strain about economics or the charge of neopelagianism for some forms of traditionalism. Although there are some things I wish he had expanded on.
As tempted as I am to post more paragraphs that struck me; I will leave you with paragraph 153 above and your own reading.