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Grapes and leaves

Finally a Francis for Pope

Johann Christoph Arnold

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  • Jerry Chance

    Pope Francis is such a breath of fresh air running through, not only the Catholic Church but, the whole of Christianity. I genuinely believe that he is being led totally by the Holy Spirit and displays the teachings and humility of our dear Lord Jesus. We pray that Our Father in heaven will spare him the time and give him the strength and tenacity to return all Christians to a simple and radical faith. Some describe him as revolutionary and there are others, more traditional members of the Church, who are distinctly nervous because they don't wish their safe little world to be disturbed! There are others who are influenced by the standards of 'this world' and pay too much attention to secular secular standards. Read his words and teachings since he became Pope - and even in previous times as a Cardinal! They come directly from the true Gospel as simply taught by the Lord Jesus. All Christians should pray for this messenger of the Holy Spirit. May The Lord bless him and give him the strength to continue preaching the Gospel. Jerry Chance

  • Yolanda Torress

    We are excited and full of hope . A new direction and re-reading of the foundation of church is needed. So we ask God to send blessings and spiritual prophetic vision for the role of the church in today’s society.

  • Sr. Joan Daniel

    You cannot imagine the joy we all feel as we unite ourselves with the vision of Pope Francis. We pray for the Church at large and see this election as a sign of the need to return to simplicity and poverty on all levels; from the top to the bottom. A great article written by a man who understands the gospel.

  • Dr. Filippa Viola

    Thank you so much for this lovely explanation of the name our new Pope took. I, too, was not only moved by the selection of Francis, for his dedication to the poor, but also when he debuted on the balcony with the simplest of wooden crosses around his neck. Before knowing anything more about his pedagogy, that symbolized his simplicity, which dovetails with your explanation of bringing the Church back to the basic teachings and simplest of times in our Catholic faith. Next, he chose the Our Father and Hail Mary, also the simplest of prayers that any person, child, adult, non-Catholic would have known and could pause to say together. I was frozen in my living room, eyes fixed on that balcony and when they announced "Habemus Papa", it brought tears to my eyes! God bless Benedict XVI for knowing his limits and to Francis I for his humble ways. What a great time for the Catholic church!

  • jenni ho-huan

    this brief commentary says so much! thank you for calling us to remember what spiritual leadership is about and how much we contribute to it through praying and constructive support!

  • Don Rochelo

    Dear Christoph, Thank you for pointing out the following: 1. Where you say “He will have a difficult task in a world that clamors for change, while God’s truth and the gospel never change”. That change you’re referring that some people want comes from non-believers or liberals. They want change that would align with their life choices. They are looking for confirmation that their way is the better way, the modern way etc. We need to pray for them very much as their beliefs are rooted in darkness. 2. Where you mention the beliefs of Saint Francis and how his preaching and example brought forth scorn and he was considered foolish and impractical. Pope Francis IS a Pope of the people, just like Saint Francis. Surely he will be scorned as well for promoting Christian beliefs. We should pray for Pope Francis, that he becomes a beacon of hope for the people of the poor, that he brings attention to those in need and that his influence will awaken they apathy of all nations toward the poor and that many millions of people will be helped due to his influence.

  • FR LAURENCE J MAYNE

    In my Dictionary of Saints, there are 54 saints named FRANCIS. So Pope Francis l will have a lot of fans in heaven praying for him. I thought the defining moment in the TV coverage was when he asked the huge crowd to pray for/with him, and he bowed. And total SILENCE descended on the huge crowd below him. It was like a meeting between heaven and earth.

  • Nicole Solomon

    Thank you for bringing to us the importance of Saint Francis' service in life, so as a living church worldwide, we can also seek for that personally and daily to build God's church--heart by heart more than brick by brick. Jesus pointed out that if someone is for him, then they can't be against him, so I want to hold onto that despite differences we can easily see between various groups that we do all want the same thing, which is God's Kingdom to break into this Earth and into our own hearts. Thank you for bringing this to us in such a wonderful way!

Congratulations to the former Cardinal Bergoglio of Argentina, who is now Pope Francis.  He deserves our best wishes, but even more than that, our prayers. He will have a difficult task in a world that clamors for change, while God’s truth and the gospel never change.

I am very happy at the name Bergoglio chose: that of Saint Francis. This name signifies a desire for service and compassion that even President Obama recognized, when he congratulated the new pope as a “champion of the poor.” Yet as important as Bergoglio’s heart for the downtrodden may be, much more important is his new task of steering the Catholic Church back to the original teachings of Jesus.

In fact, the story of the original Saint Francis, who lived in 12th century Italy, begins with a vision: as Francis was praying in the dilapidated chapel of San Damiano, he heard a voice saying, “Francis, repair my church, which has fallen into disrepair!”  At first he took this commandment literally, thinking he was to rebuild broken walls and stonework. But he soon came to understand that God was calling him to something much more: to call his fellow believers back to the radical simplicity of the gospel.

Much as Saint Francis is venerated today, in his time he was scorned as foolish and impractical. In the same way, those who now hold to traditional Catholic values– that is, the gospel values of faithfulness in marriage and reverence for life – are often scorned as old-fashioned and intolerant.  Pope Francis’ predecessor Benedict XVI wrote to me in a personal letter that “such convictions will inevitably arouse hatred, even persecution. The Lord has predicted it. But with him we must continue in trying to overcome evil through good.”

These prophetic words may not be comforting, but they should encourage those of us who call ourselves Christian – even if non-Catholic, as I am – to pray for the new pope. He will certainly be in my prayers.

St. Francis 1898 by Albert Chevallier Tayler View larger image.
Contributed By Johann Christoph Arnold Johann Christoph Arnold

A noted speaker and writer on marriage, parenting, education, and end-of-life issues, Arnold is a senior pastor of the Bruderhof, a movement of Christian communities.

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