Friday, May 01, 2020


Latin scholars debate the translation of Pope Francis’ motto: MISERANDO ATQUE ELIGENDO. Some translate it as: by giving mercy and choosing; others as: pity and choosing. The official Vatican translation is: by having mercy and by choosing. [1] In essence since he was a bishop when he first chose the motto it is a declaration of seeking to faithfully follow Jesus and to love and serve others with compassion.

So far in my life, from Pope Pius XXII to Pope Francis, [2] I have lived during seven pontificates. None has been without their critics, and not just in the secular media. The harshest critics are found among Catholic clergy and laity. It has been ever thus since St. Peter and likely will be so to the end of time, even when, as with St. Pius V, St. Pius X, St. John XXIII, St. John Paul II, the Pope is an obvious saint.

No baptized Christian, pope, lay person, clergy, religious, should expect to be any more popular than Christ Himself, who still elicits harsh criticism, even after laying down His life for us: You will be hated by all because of My Name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved. [Mt. 10:22] and the reality that: …..we hold this treasure in earthen vessels, that the surpassing power may be of God and not from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not constrained; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our body. [2 Cor. 4:7-10]

Too many critics of Pope Francis fail to study his life, to actually read his writings as priest, bishop, pope.  In their humanity, like each of us, popes, while striving to be faithful to Christ, the Gospel, our baptismal vocation, are not perfect. So, either we trust that popes are chosen by the Holy Spirit, in which case we should be humbly faithful to the Holy Father, through which we are faithful to the Holy Spirit, or we don’t.

During this global pandemic crisis, in the stormy seas of daily life and stress, Jesus is with us, hearing our cries, personally with us Himself and in His successor to St. Peter Pope Francis, who constantly shows himself as parish priest to the whole human family, seeking to strengthen and console us.

Refusing as always to participate in spurious debates about Pope Francis being this or that, here are some of his words as bishop and latterly as Pope. They reveal the heart of this disciple of Christ, this priest, this pontiff.
The covenant of love and fidelity lived by the Holy Family of Nazareth illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family, and enables it better to face the vicissitudes of life and history. On this basis, every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world. [3]

Mercy is the Lord’s most powerful message. It’s not easy to trust oneself to the mercy of God…..but we must do it!.......Our Lady best transmits to the faithful the joy of God’s word. [4]

The Lord consoles by making Himself present in the midst of the community and showing His  resurrected wounds, wounds flowing forth with peace, peace that conquers all fears. [5]

Do not be afraid to bring Christ into every area of life, to the fringes of society, even to those who seem farthest away, most indifferent. [6]

It is modesty that, as well as the truth, guards the goodness, beauty, and unity of being. [7]

By being born in a manger, God himself launches the only true revolution that can give hope and dignity to the disinherited and the outcast: the revolution of love, the revolution of tenderness. From the manger, Jesus proclaims, in a meek yet powerful way, the need for sharing with the poor as the path to a more human and fraternal world in which no one is excluded or marginalized. [8]

Jesus waits for us, He goes ahead of us, He extends His hand to us, He is patient with us. God is faithful. [9]

It is traditional in this month to pray the Rosary at home within the family.  The restrictions of the pandemic have made us come to appreciate all the more this “family” aspect, also from a spiritual point of view….. I am also providing two prayers to Our Lady that you can recite at the end of the Rosary, and that I myself will pray in the month of May, in spiritual union with all of you…. [10]

[4] Pope Francis in His Own Words; edited by Julie Schwietert Collazo and Lisa Rogak; pp. 58 & 86; © 2013; New World Library
[5] The Church According to the heart of Pope Francis; p.114; © Magnificat Inc.
[6] Fioretti, The Little Flowers of Pope Francis; p.170; Andrea Tornielli; © 2014 Ignatius Press
[7] The Way of Humility; Jorge Mario Bergoglio – Pope Francis; p. 34; Ignatius Press 2014
[9] THE NAME OF GOD IS MERCY; Pope Francis; p.86; 2016, Random House

[10] Pope Francis’ letter for special praying of the Holy Rosary in May with a prayer for these times:  
© 2020 Fr. Arthur Joseph

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