Letter From the Pastor, September 22

Dear Friends,

I am on the Freshman Retreat this weekend and I ask you to pray for the team and students who are on retreat.

Whatever I am doing this moment, I pretty sure I am exhausted, AND IT IS POPE FRANCIS’ FAULT!  I had a pretty clear day on Thursday during which I was to complete some of the last-minute detail work for the retreat – stuff that can’t be done until it is clear who is and who is not going.  I had plenty of time and a clear plan for getting it all done, and then Pope Francis dropped a major bomb in the middle of it all.  I’m sure when he granted that interview to the Italian Jesuit Magazine in August he wasn’t thinking “I’m gonna drop a bomb on Fr. Bart’s day…” But that’s what happened. I began getting email, Facebook and twitter messages about the text of the interview pretty early in the morning.  Finally about 10:30 AM, I took a break and opened the text of the interview, and the rest of the day was shot.

I could think of little else the rest of the day. I read the text several times, I wanted to talk about it with anybody who would. I was asked for an interview by KOLD about what Pope Francis said. I am still reveling in the joy of the content of that interview. I have said over and over again, I was inspired more by the transcript of this simple interview than by anything else that has come out of the Vatican in my memory. I have been enamored of Pope Francis from day one.  The more I read, the more he inspired me.  And what I heard in the text of that interview was my own thoughts, opinions, and attitudes spoken back to me by the man who sits on the throne of Peter – ideas that I have often in recent years, felt better to keep to myself.

The image of Church and ministry espoused by the Holy Father are so much what I want to live (an often fail).  The openness he expresses is so consistent with the Gospel and his understanding of the human person is so beautiful and consistent with a traditional Catholic understanding.  In many ways, he said nothing new.  But so many people have been moved by the tone and the shift it represents at this moment in the Church’s life.  If you have not read the interview, it is 100% available and  free on America Magazine’s website

Monday evening at 7:00 PM, I am going to host a discussion of the text of the interview.  I want those who come to have read the interview ahead of time.  I am going to highlight a couple of the text and then open the floor for discussion. Anyone is welcome to participate and I hope some of you will come.

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