Thursday, April 24, 2014

Discovering Pope Francis' Message of Hope: "The Church of Mercy" (And a Giveaway!)

Hot off the press from Loyola Press, The Church of Mercy: A Vision for the Church by Pope Francis is a beautiful book, full of joy, hope and confidence in the unfailing love of God.  It's a message sorely needed in our times. It's a message, however, that comes with a challenge to give up our own personal agendas and take ownership of the agenda that Christ has given each of us at our baptism.

Consisting of excerpts from his homilies, addresses and official teaching documents, this collection, authorized by the Vatican and compiled by Giuliano Vigini, professor at the Catholic University of Milan, offers the reader comfort, refreshment and challenge, as well as an occasional healthy dose of papal humor.

Pope Francis' pastoral message is that there is hope - for everyone, most especially sinners - in Jesus Christ, and because God is patient, loving and merciful to us, we should be so with one another - especially to the poor and the stranger. We are called to come out of ourselves, abandon our will to that of Christ and simply serve - telling others about Jesus in word and deed - never afraid to show our hope and joy in the process.

We are asked to be an antidote to the evils of the culture by bringing that message out of the walls of churches to the very margins of life, in solidarity with those who have been pushed there - "to the outskirts of existence."  We are called to sensitize the world to the poor and the "uprooted" - refugees - "those who are obliged to flee their own country and exist between rootlessness and integration."

Francis' vision of a "Church of Mercy" is in tune with the social justice teachings of the Church - one that reaches out in love to the poor, the unwanted and those who suffer, in Jesus' name.  Our motivation for that, he says comes from our confident trust that God has already reached out in love to us. When we are able to abandon ourselves to Jesus, we will become a Church that fills the world with his love, one that is not afraid to testify to the message that God loves us all.

But, Francis tells us, before we do any of  this we have to let go of our cultural idols - power, violence, money, and yes, clergy careerism - to be "free from personal projects" and ambition. The Church must "divest herself of the danger of worldliness."  It is that, he says that kills the Church - and the person.  Once we let go, we will be free to choose the good and to become, like Mary, people of "listening, decision and action."

This is quite simply a "must read" book for every Catholic, lay and clergy alike. It proposes a reformed Church much closer to Jesus's intentions and asks us to steer away from worldly trappings - inner and outer - that prevent us from abandoning ourselves to Jesus's call to embrace the love of God and spend ourselves for the sake of others, sharing that love. This is how Francis explains why he himself has chosen not to wear full papal regalia, but to don simpler garb and go out into the world as often as he can, seeking the lost and the broken.  This is the Pope Francis who washed the feet of the disabled on Holy Thursday - Christian and Muslim, men and women - serving as an example, he is the very model of what he calls the Church to become.

Make no mistake. This is not just a "feel-good" book about the warm fuzziness of God's love. It is a real challenge to abandon ourselves to that love.

OK -  Here is The BIG Giveaway! 
You can win a FREE copy of this marvelous book from Loyola Press.  Make a comment here on the blog between now and Tuesday, April 29th and I will pick one out of a hat.  Be sure to include your name and an obvious way to find you when you "choose your identity" for the comment box. I will announce the winner on the blog on April 30th. Thanks for reading!


  1. Looking forward to reading this

  2. I'd love to read this book to get a better handle on Pope Francis' approach to things. So many in the media try to twist what he's said to fit their own agenda. I do like his focus on loving everyone rather than focusing on the sins. After all, we ALL are sinners.

  3. Loved EG and excited to read this book :-)

  4. Seems to me that like his predecessor Saint-to-Be Pope John Paul the Great, Pope Francis sees the key to the New Evangelization as reflected in a Church that embodies the person of Christ who is "Dives in Misericordia" - Rich in Mercy.

  5. Can never get enoigh reading about the Popes.

    Aw3locke@ yahoo .com

  6. Share this with your friends - and while you are here, feel free to explore the blog - and my website - where I curate the best in resources about the Mass, liturgical symbols and seasons and more. Thanks, everyone!

  7. I have probably read much of what is in this book in little bits. But I look forward to the stuff I had not seen, and to see how it has been put all in one place to make a cohesive whole. I hope that the book gets widely read.

  8. Thanks, Joyce, for this insightful review. A real gift - to have so much all in one place. Pope Francis challenges us not just by his words but by his compassionate actions and life style of integrity.

    1. You are welcome. It IS a real gift - as is his vision. I think we all kind of recognize it, but when you see it all in one place it makes more sense.Sound bytes don't do him justice.

  9. Interesting review. I have not heard of a book like this that really lays out a vision of where we should be and challenges us as the Catholic Church.

  10. Michael Jacobs
    Francis talking about a church of mercy is awesome be ause he emphasizes the corporal and spiritualworks of mercy.

  11. Excellent book review. I like how Pope Francis simply discusses a church of mercy. Too often within the Church there is an emphasis on the spiritual or corporal works of mercy. Francis reminds us that it's not an "either/or" but "both/and".