On Monday, Pope Francis spoke to the Diocese of Rome on a wide-range of topics, off the cuff for over 35 minutes. He had several points that are directly related to our “New Wineskin” of Ministry and moments of encounter: We are Saint John.
Every member of the Saint John community has the opportunity to be a positive moment of encounter for each other and for other individuals in our communities. A smile and some assistance getting to a pew the first time they have come to church in 20 years. A gracious word when helping someone at the grocery store. Our role is to support, encourage and love each other. Our Holy Father has provided the guidance we need to succeed in our Mission: To Know, To Love and To Serve God in His Church and Our Community:
“The great challenge of the church today is to become mother,” he said. “If the church is not a mother — I know it is bad to say this, but she becomes an ‘old maid,'” and cannot bring forth children.
The church does not become a mother by going door to door and offering to sign people up as if it were “an association called the Catholic Church,” he said. Rather, the church is a mother when she does what mothers do: offer love, tenderness, a caring gaze, almost endless patience, a welcome and compassion.
“Our mother church seems to be a bit old, not to speak of a ‘grandmother’ church, but aging. We must rejuvenate her,” he said, and “not by taking her to a plastic surgeon.”
The church does not need cosmetic surgery, the pope said, but it needs the energy and joy that come from being a mother, seeing her children gather at home and welcoming their friends as well.
Pope Francis urged all parish workers to be warm and welcoming, to listen to people before asking them to fill out registration forms or pay stipends for different services. The church, he said, must have “a heart without limits, but not just a heart: also a certain gaze, the sweetness of Jesus’ gaze, which often is more eloquent than many words.”