On the feast of St. Therese of Lisieux, Pope Francis praised the saint for her exemplary humility and meekness, praying that the council of cardinals would emulate her virtue in their upcoming meetings.
The Pope concelebrated his Oct. 1 daily Mass with the group of eight cardinals who will meet from Tuesday to Thursday this week to discuss reform of the curia.
In his homily, Pope Francis voiced hope that council’s meetings will help everyone to become more humble and to trust in God, so that the Church is able to give a beautiful witness to the world.
Reflecting on the gospel of the day in which the apostles sought to call down fire upon those who did not accept them, the Holy Father urged that the path of Christians is not a “path of vengeance,” saying that instead, it is the way of humility and meekness.
In light of the feast of St. Therese – a French cloistered nun who lived in the late 1800s – the Pope encouraged those present to meditate on “this spirit of humility, of tenderness, of bounty,” which is, he said, a spirit that God “wants from all of us.”
This spirit, he said, can only be found “in love, in charity, in the awareness that we are in the hands of the Father.”
Once we understand this, said the Pope, we will no longer desire to “call down fire from Heaven.”
“Another spirit comes, that of that charity that suffers all, pardons all, that does not boast, that is humble, that doesn’t seek itself.”
Noting that there are some who might say this understanding of charity is a lowering of the “majesty” and “greatness” of man, Pope Francis stressed that this approach “is sterile!”
“The Gospel reaches its highest point in the humiliation of Jesus: humility that becomes humiliation,” he urged, saying that the force of the gospel “is properly in humility, in the humility of the child that is guided by the love and the tenderness of the father.”
The pontiff lauded the Church for naming St. Therese a Doctor of the Church and Patron of Missions – adding the words of Benedict XVI that the “Church does not grow through proselytism,” but rather “through attraction, through witness.”
“When the people see this witness of humility, of meekness, of mildness, they feel the need that the Prophet Zachariah spoke of: ‘We want to come with you.’”
“Charity is simple,” stated the Pope, “worship God and serve others!”
Concluding his homily with a special mention of the meetings being held with the council of cardinals, Pope Francis asked the Lord that through their work, they will become more humble, meek, patient and trusting in God.
He asked that this occur “so that the Church can give a beautiful witness to the people, and seeing the People of God, seeing the Church, they might feel the desire to come with us.”