Pope Francis calls upon a few classic saint-guides from the spiritual life to remind us that the minister can never lose the thread of service to others. I also note the instability of those who “flit” and do not settle. There is a certain grace in a stable location from which to serve people and to conduct ministry. That’s not always possible. It might be a thought to bishops and pastors to retain more of the “previous administration” and draw upon their experience and rootedness in a community to enhance the ministry of a new leader.
91. One important challenge is to show that the solution will never be found in fleeing from a personal and committed relationship with God which at the same time commits us to serving others. This happens frequently nowadays, as believers seek to hide or keep apart from others, or quietly flit from one place to another or from one task to another, without creating deep and stable bonds. “Imaginatio locorum et mutatio multos fefellit”.[THOMAS À KEMPIS, De Imitatione Christi, Lib. I, IX, 5: “Dreaming of different places, and moving from one to another, has misled many”.] This is a false remedy which cripples the heart and at times the body as well. We need to help others to realize that the only way is to learn how to encounter others with the right attitude, which is to accept and esteem them as companions along the way, without interior resistance. Better yet, it means learning to find Jesus in the faces of others, in their voices, in their pleas. And learning to suffer in the embrace of the crucified Jesus whenever we are unjustly attacked or meet with ingratitude, never tiring of our decision to live in fraternity.
Pope Francis elaborates here, and I’ve seen some fruits of this in my personal experience as I reach the seventh year of my ministry in my present parish. Developing the Holy Father’s “right attitude” is always a challenge to me. I do need to look for that “interior resistance,” and observe it, ask “Why?” and be careful about my ministry relationships.
A note from Pope Francis on the experience of one of the Doctors of the Church:
“One winter afternoon I was engaged as usual in my little task. It was cold and growing dark… Suddenly I heard in the distance the harmonious sounds of a musical instrument. I began to imagine a well-lit room, draped in gold, and in it, elegantly dressed young ladies exchanging worldly compliments and courtesies. Then I looked at the poor sick woman whom I was attending. In place of a melody, I heard her occasional groans and sighs… I cannot express what took place in my soul. All that I do know is that the Lord illumined it with the rays of truth which so surpassed the flickering glow of earthly revels, that I could scarcely believe my happiness” (Ms. C, 29v-30r, in Oeuvres Complètes, Paris, 1992, 274-275).]
Thoughts or comments?