The progress of the Church can be hindered by the dual temptations of wanting to remain in the past and “adolescent progressivism,” Pope Francis said.
The danger of a progressive approach to the Holy Spirit is that believers becomes “like teenagers who in their enthusiasm want to have everything, and in the end? You slip up…” he said at the June 12 morning Mass.
“It’s like when the road is covered in ice and the car slips and go off track ... This is the other temptation at the moment! We, at this moment in the history of the Church, we cannot go backwards or go off the track!” the Pope stressed.
The track the Church must follow, he said during his homily, “is that of freedom in the Holy Spirit that makes us free, in continuous discernment of God's will to move forward on this path... .”
Pope Francis’ homily was inspired by today’s Gospel reading from Matthew 5:17, where Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets.”
Christ brought the new law of the Spirit, the Pope noted, calling it the “road to maturity” for the Church.
“Part of the law’s journey to maturity, which comes with preaching Jesus, always involves fear; fear of the freedom that the Spirit gives us.
This freedom of the Spirit requires embarking on “a path of continuous discernment to do the will of God” and this can frighten us, the Holy Father observed.
He warned that the fear that comes with this way “brings two temptations with it.”
The first, is to “go backwards” to say that, “it’s possible up to this point, but impossible beyond this point” which ends up becoming “let’s stay here.”
It’s a fear that “it is better to play it safe.”
To illustrate his point, Pope Francis told a story about a superior general who spent years compiling a list of rules for his religious in the 1930s.
Then he traveled to Rome to meet a Benedictine abbot, who told him that his efforts “had killed his congregation’s charism,” “he had killed its freedom” since “this charism bears fruit in freedom and he had stopped the charism.”
“This is the temptation to go backwards, because we are ‘safer’ going back: but total security is in the Holy Spirit that brings you forward….”
This way of living “does not give us that human security,” the Pope noted.
“We cannot control the Holy Spirit: that is the problem! This is a temptation,” he explained.
The second temptation that comes with relying on the Holy Spirit’s guidance is to engage in “adolescent progressivism,” which ends up sending things off-track.
The temptation, Pope Francis said, lies in seeing a culture and “not detaching ourselves from it.”
“We take the values of this culture a little bit from here, a little bit from there ... They want to make this law? Alright, let’s go ahead and make this law. Let’s broaden the boundaries here a little.”
“In the end, let me tell you, this is not true progress,” he stated.
The Mass was concelebrated by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life, as well as priests, religious and lay staff from the dicastery.