Pope Francis focused on storytelling as an essential part of the human experience in his message for World Communications Day. The message was published on Jan. 24 for the feast of St. Francis de Sales, the patron of writers, journalists, and the Catholic press.
“Amid the cacophony of voices and messages that surround us, we need a human story that can speak of ourselves and of the beauty all around us,” he said.
Much of the pope’s reflections on storytelling centered on the Bible as the quintessential human story.
“Sacred Scripture is a Story of stories,” he said. “It shows us from the very beginning a God who is both creator and narrator. Indeed, God speaks his word and things come into existence.”
“The Bible is thus the great love story between God and humanity. At its centre stands Jesus, whose own story brings to fulfilment both God’s love for us and our love for God,” Pope Francis said.
The pope encouraged men and women in every generation to memorize the most significant episodes recounted in Sacred Scripture to better communicate its meaning. He said that Jesus taught in parables, stories taken from everyday life.
“Each of us knows different stories that have the fragrance of the Gospel, that have borne witness to the Love that transforms life. These stories cry out to be shared, recounted and brought to life in every age, in every language, in every medium,” he said.
Pope Francis said that the power of the Holy Spirit can transform the story of any person’s life: “Even the one that seems to be written with the most crooked lines, can become inspired, can be reborn as a masterpiece, and become an appendix to the Gospel.”
The pope warned of the harm of destructive and provocative stories that repeat unverified information and deceptive or hateful messages that wear down the fragile threads that bind us together as a society.
He said he need “patience and discernment” in an age when falsification is increasingly sophisticated at the level when it is possible to create a “deepfake.”
“But whereas the stories employed for exploitation and power have a short lifespan, a good story can transcend the confines of space and time. Centuries later, it remains timely, for it nourishes life,” Pope Francis said.
The pope pointed to the example of Augustine’s Confessions, Ignatius’ A Pilgrim’s Journey, St. Therese’s Story of a Soul, Alessandro Manzoni’s The Betrothed, and Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov as examples of stories that have “admirably scripted the encounter between God’s freedom and that of man.”
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World Communications Day will be celebrated May 24 this year with the theme, “That you may tell your children and grandchildren.”
“To tell our story to the Lord is to enter into his gaze of compassionate love for us and for others. We can recount to him the stories we live, bringing to him the people and the situations that fill our lives. With him we can re-weave the fabric of life, darning its rips and tears. How much we, all of us, need to do exactly this,” Pope Francis said.
“Our own story becomes part of every great story. As we read the Scriptures, the stories of the saints, and also those texts that have shed light on the human heart and its beauty, the Holy Spirit is free to write in our hearts, reviving our memory of what we are in God’s eyes,” he said.