Pope Francis Address to CELAM 9: Deep Roots

More with Pope Francis and his address to the bishops of Latin America.

The Church appreciates like few others the deep-rooted shared wisdom that is the basis of every reality in Latin America.  She lives daily with that reserve of moral values on which the life of the continent rests.  I am sure that, even as I say this, you can put a name on this reality.  We must constantly be in dialogue with it. We cannot lose contact with this moral substratum, with this rich soil present in the heart of our people, wherein we see the subtle yet eloquent elements that make up its mestizo face – not merely indigenous, Hispanic, Portuguese or African, but mestizo: Latin American!

I find myself amused with those ads for finding one’s ethnic ancestry. Especially the surprise that many Latin Americans express when their genetic tracker shows up “native American.” Are they unaware of the cultural blend of the Americas, something going back five centuries?

Rather than living in an age of decline and depression, there is reason for hope. There is an awakening of spirituality; let it be guided and directed to Christ:

Guadalupe and Aparecida are programatic signs of the divine creativity that has bought this about and that underlies the popular piety of our people, which is part of its anthropological uniqueness and a gift by which God wants our people to come to know him.  The most luminous pages of our Church’s history were written precisely when she knew how to be nourished by this richness and to speak to this hidden heart.  For it guards, like a small spark beneath a coat of ashes, the sense of God and of his transcendence, a recognition of the sacredness of life, respect for creation, bonds of human solidarity, the sheer joy of living, the ability to find happiness without conditions.

To speak to this deepest soul, to speak to the most profound reality of Latin America, the Church has no other way than to continually learn from Jesus.  The Gospel tells us that he spoke only in parables (cf. Mk 4:34).  He used images that engaged those who heard his word and made them characters in his divine stories.  God’s holy and faithful people in Latin America understand no other way of speaking about him.  We are called to set out on mission not with cold and abstract concepts, but with images that keep multiplying and unfolding their power in human hearts, making them grain sown on good ground, yeast that makes the bread rise from the dough, and seed with the power to become a fruitful tree.

Think about that: “only in parables.” Too often we are focused on theological depth and the pride of our own intellectual accomplishments–personal and ecclesiastical. When did Jesus go theological with his disciples?

To be sure, theology is not always cold and abstract. Those steeped in it find it warm and nourishing. But communicating the Gospel message involves more than the messengers fuzzy feelings. Those who seek to evangelize and make disciples must find a way to generate heat and light in a way those receiving the message will sense it.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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