The Pope Video about the reform Francis proposes: prayer, charity, and service
The Pope Video for August is about the Church’s specific vocation—evangelization—and about the need for a reform which, according to Francis, must begin with “a reform of ourselves” through an experience of prayer, charity, and service, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
(Vatican City, August 3, 2021) — The Pope Video has just been published with the prayer intention that Francis is entrusting to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. In this month of August, the Holy Father reflects deeply on the situation of the Church, its vocation, and its identity, and he calls us to renew it “by discerning God’s will in our daily life.” For Francis, in times of crisis and difficulty the Church needs a reform that must begin with “a reform of ourselves” and “in the light of the Gospel.”
Evangelization and Jesus’ example
The Pope Video begins with the specific vocation of the Church, which is to evangelize. the Holy Father dreams of “an even more missionary option: that it go out to meet others without proselytism and that it transform all its structures for the evangelization of today’s world.” Francis emphasizes that he’s not talking about proselytism, because this style of missionary effort consists above all in “a reform of ourselves.” What attracts is a testimony of life with the flavor of the Gospel.
As he explained in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium: “Each Christian and every community must discern the path that the Lord points out, but all of us are asked to obey his call to go forth from our own comfort zone in order to reach all the “peripheries” in need of the light of the Gospel.”
The first step is to make progress in this direction, as the Holy Father is asking us, and to do so we must allow ourselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit so that He will “remind us what Jesus taught and … help us put it into practice.”
Remedies for a Church in crisis: prayer, charity, and service
“The Church always has difficulties, always has crises,” The Pope Video for this month argues. Just a few months ago, the letter in which Francis rejected Cardinal Marx’s offer of resignation was made public. In it, not only did he show that he agrees that “the entire Church is in crises because of the abuse issue,” but he also encouraged him to continue his work as a shepherd and emphasized that “a reform… does not consist in words but in attitudes that have the courage to face the crisis, to assume reality whatever the consequences may be. And every reform begins with oneself. The reform in the Church was made by men and women who were not afraid to enter into crisis and let themselves be reformed by the Lord.”
The remedy in order to face and undertake this reform can never be found in our own ideas, ideologies, or prejudices. Following Jesus’ example, the heart of the Gospel, the path forward is one “based on spiritual experience, an experience of prayer, an experience of charity, an experience of service.” As he also wrote in the letter to Cardinal Marx, this is “the only way, otherwise we will be nothing more than ‘ideologues of reform’ who do not put their own flesh on the line.”
Pray for the Church
Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, commented: “At the end of last year, a few days before Christmas, Francis had already wanted to delve into the difference between conflict and crisis so as to make clear that the latter can always leave us with something positive. It’s a propitious time for the Gospel and for Church reform. As the Holy Father says, ‘we must have the courage to be completely open. We need to stop seeing the reform of the Church as putting a patch on an old garment.’ In the face of a crisis, the first thing we can do is accept it, as a propitious time to seek and recognize God’s will. This means not tiring of prayer, as the Pope insists so much; not tiring of following Jesus’ example of service, of charity, of encounter with others, with those who suffer, with the most vulnerable and with those who most need it. ‘Journeys always involve verbs of movement. A crisis is itself movement, a part of our journey,’ he said as well. Let us pray for the Church, that She may receive from the Holy Spirit the grace and strength to reform herself in the light of the Gospel.”