Saturday, 5 October 2013

Stripping in Assisi!

During his visit to Assisi on the feast day of St Francis, one of the first places Pope Francis visited was the “Sala della Spoliazione” - the room is the site where Francis stripped himself of his clothes before his father, the bishop and the townspeople, saying, "From now on I can truly say: Our Father who art in heaven.”

When forced to choose by his father – Francis chose the call of God and sonship in Christ.

A radical turning point in his, at times, painful journey of conversion

Pope Francis used this evocative setting to speak a strong message on “the cancer of worldliness.”

He did not read the address he prepared, choosing to speak off the cuff. He began by pointing out that in recent days the newspapers “fancied” how the Pope would “strip” the Church in Assisi, the habits of the Bishops, the Cardinals, and himself. He said that this was a good occasion to invite the Church to strip herself of worldliness.

However, all of us are the Church, beginning with the baptized. “We must all go on Jesus’ path, who followed the path of despoliation of himself,” recalling that Jesus made himself slave, servant, he let himself be humiliated to the Cross, he added. The Pope reminded those present that “if we want to be Christians there is no other way.” He also warned about the danger of being “pastry shop” Christians, nice cakes but with no real substance.

“What must the Church strip herself of?

Pope Francis stressed emphatically the danger of worldliness, “a very grave danger that threatens the whole Church,” a worldliness that leads to vanity, arrogance, pride. “This is an idol, and idolatry is the strongest sin,” he noted. Once again he said that all of us are the Church and that it “is sad to meet a worldly Christian.” As he has already stated on other occasions, the he warned that "one cannot work for both sides: either one serves God or one serves money.”

Francis addressed those present: the poor people assisted by Caritas. He said that many of them have been “stripped by this savage world that doesn’t give work, doesn’t help and is not concerned if people die of hunger, who flee seeking freedom, with so much sorrow we see that they meet with death, as yesterday in Lampedusa. Today is a day of mourning. These things  are done by the spirit of the world.”

He ended by reminding us all, “the strength of God is what pushed Saint Francis to strip himself and I invited you to pray for the grace to have the courage to strip yourself of this worldliness that is the cancer of society.”