For Pope Francis, consolation requires an open heart

Pope Francis says Mass at the chapel of Santa Marta house in the Vatican, Sept. 1, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.
Pope Francis says Mass at the chapel of Santa Marta house in the Vatican, Sept. 1, 2015. Credit: L'Osservatore Romano.

.- Consolation is never self-reliant, Pope Francis said during Mass on Monday, noting it is only possible to receive the Lord’s encouragement through another.

“No one can console himself, no one – and whoever tries to do it ends up looking into the mirror – staring into the mirror and trying to ‘make oneself up,’” said the Pope during his June 12 Mass at the chapel of the Vatican's Casa Santa Marta.

“The experience of consolation, which is a spiritual experience, always needs ‘someone else’ in order to be full.”

He reflected on the day’s readings, in which Saint Paul described the need for the Lord’s consolation in his second letter to the Corinthians, and the Beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew.

He said the “doctors of the law” will not have true consolation because they are the ones who console themselves. “One ‘consoles’ with these closed things that do not let one grow,” he said, “and the air that one breathes is that narcissistic air of self-reference.”

This narcissism never allows for growth or a view of the entire picture, he explained.

Pope Francis said consolation is always from the Lord, and is a two-fold process: receiving a gift and serving others. He said “consolation is a state of transition from the gift received to the service given.”  

Consolation must begin with a recognition of one’s own need, he said, explaining that “only then does the Lord come console us, and give us the mission to console others. It is not easy to have one’s heart open to receive the gift and to serve.”

He said an open heart is a happy one because it relies on the Lord, and he reflected on the receptive spirit described in Beatitudes.

“The poor: the heart is opened with an attitude of poverty, of poverty of spirit; those who know how to cry, the meek ones, the meekness of heart; those hungry for justice who fight for justice; those who are merciful, who have mercy on others; the pure of heart; peace-makers and those who are persecuted for justice, for love of righteousness.”

“Thus is the heart opened and [then] the Lord comes with the gift of consolation and the mission of consoling others,” Francis stated.

The Pope contrasted it to the men with closed hearts, who find themselves sufficient: “those who do not need to cry because they feel they are in the right.” He said these men do not understand meekness, mercy, or forgiveness, and in turn they cannot serve others in the same way.

He asked his audience to reflect on how open their hearts are to be able to ask for consolation and then to pass it on to their neighbors.

Ending with words of encouragement, he said the Lord always aims to console us and “asks us to open the doors of our hearts even only just a little bit.”

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