Friday, October 6, 2023

New book by Pope Francis released: "Holy, not Worldly"


Pope FrancisPope Francis  (Vatican Media)

“Holy, not Worldly” - Pope Francis’ new book hits stores

The Vatican Publishing House LEV releases Pope Francis' new book “Holy, not Worldly. God's Grace Saves Us from Interior Corruption”, which includes an article dating back to 1991 with the original title “Corrupción y pecado”, and a letter he addressed to the priests of the Diocese of Rome in August 2023. We publish the English translation of his preface.

By Pope Francis

Christian life is a battle, an interior combat to overcome the temptation of closing ourselves, and to let the love of our Father who desires our happiness to dwell within us. It is a beautiful battle, because when we let the Lord be victorious in us, our heart exults fully and our existence is illuminated by a ray of the infinite.The battle we carry out as followers of Jesus is first of all a battle against spiritual worldliness, which is a form of paganism in ecclesiastical clothing. Though it be camouflaged with the appearance of the sacred, it ends up being idolatrous because it does not recognize the presence of God as Lord and liberator of our lives and of the history of the world. It leaves us prey to our capricious desires.

Therefore, we must fight. But our battle is not vain nor without hope, because this battle has already been won by Jesus, who overcame the strength of sin in his death. With his resurrection, he has made it possible for us to become new persons.

Of course, the victory of Jesus has a name, the cross, which at first repels us and pushes us away. But it is the sign of a limitless love, humble and tenacious. Jesus loved us to the point of the ignominious death on a cross in order that we no longer be able to doubt that his arms will remain open even for the last of the sinners. This eternal love calls and orients the life of Christians, and of the Church herself. The cross of Jesus becomes the criterion of every choice of faith.

Blessed Pierre Claverie, the bishop of Oran, affirmed this in one of his beautiful homilies that I would like to quote here: “I believe that the Church dies if it is not sufficiently close to the cross of her Lord. Though it may seem paradoxical, strength, vitality, hope, Christian fruitfulness, the fruitfulness of the Church come from here.

Not from elsewhere. All the rest is but smoke in our eyes, worldly illusion. The Church betrays herself, and betrays the world, when it stands like a power among powers, or like an organization, even a humanitarian one, or like an evangelical movement capable of making a splash. It may even shine, but it does not burn with the fire of the love of God, ‘strong as death’ – as the Song of Songs puts it.”

This is why I wanted to collect in this short volume two essays which were published at different times: one, written in 1991 when I was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, dedicated to corruption and sin; and the other, a Letter to the priests of Rome. They are united by the concern, which I feel to be a loud call from God to the entire Church, to remain vigilant and to fight with the strength of prayer against every concession to spiritual worldliness.

This battle has a name: it is called holiness. Holiness is not a state of beatitude which one has reached once and for all. It is instead the in10 cessant, tireless desire to remain attached to the cross of Jesus, letting ourselves be shaped by the logic that comes from the gift of self and from resisting the enemy who flatters us by convincing us that we are self-sufficient. It would do us well to remember what Jesus said: “Without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:5). Holiness is therefore remaining open to the “more” that God asks of us and that is manifested in our adherence to our daily lives. Father Alfred Delp wrote: “God embraces us through reality”. Our daily lives are the place in which we make room for the Lord who saves us from self-sufficiency, and which requires of us that magis which Saint Ignatius of Loyola spoke about: that “more” that urges us toward a happiness which is not ephemeral, but full and serene.

I offer these texts to the reader as an opportunity to reflect on his life and on the life of the Church, with the conviction that God asks us to be open to His newness, he asks us to be unquiet and never satisfied, searching and never stuck in comfortable opacity, not defended within the walls of false certainties, but walking on the road of holiness.

Vatican City, 30 September 2023

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