Pope Francis, St. Catherine’s, and the Healthy Curiosity

“On one hand the ‘carnival of worldly curiosity’ and, on the other, the glorification of the Father through good works. And our life always moves between these two scenarios”, said Pope Francis to hundreds of Dominican friars, sisters, nuns and laity who gathered in Rome for the closing of the 800th Anniversary of the Dominican Order.

The Pope was preaching on the Mass readings from 2 Timothy 4:1-5 and Matthew 5:13-16, showing how our founder St. Dominic embodied the spirit of these challenging passages. Looking at this timely message I thought I would specifically like to highlight the image of two kinds of “curiosity” that Francis draws from these scriptural texts, and encourage all of us here at St. Catherine’s – a Dominican parish! – to examine the ways we feed our spirituality to make it work in the midst of the secular world.

He said, “Paul warns Timothy that he must proclaim the Gospel in the midst of a context where people are always looking for new teachers, myths, different doctrines and ideologies. It is the carnival of worldly curiosity, of seduction. Therefore, the Apostle also instructs his disciple with strong words, such as “urgent,” convince, rebuke,” “exhort”, and then “be steady,” “endure sufferings”. It is interesting to see how already then, two thousand years ago, the Apostles of the Gospel found themselves before this scenario, which in our days has developed and globalized, given the seduction of subjectivist relativism.

The tendency to seek novelties, proper to the human being, finds its ideal environment in the society of appearance, of consumption, in which often old things are recycled, but what is important is to make them seem new, attractive, captivating.

Truth is also made up. We move in the so-called ‘liquid society,’ without fixed points, without axes, deprived of solid and stable references, in a culture of the ephemeral, of usage and of discarding. Highlighted clearly in face of this worldly ‘carnival’ is the opposite scenario that we find in the words of Jesus, which we just heard: “Give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.”

And how can one pass from this pseudo festive superficiality to glorification? It is realized through the good works of those who, becoming disciples of Jesus, have become “salt” and “light.”

“Let your light so shine before men – says Jesus – that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in Heaven.” In the midst of yesterday’s and today’s ‘carnival,’ this is the answer of Jesus and of the Church, this is the solid support in the midst of a ‘liquid’ environment: the good works we can do thanks to Christ and to His Holy Spirit, and which gives birth in the heart to gratitude to God the Father, praise, or at least to the question” ‘Why,’ ‘Why does that person behave like this?’, disquieting the world in face of the testimony of the Gospel.

However, for this ‘shakeup’ to happen, salt must not lose its taste and the light must not be hidden (cf. Matthew 5:13-15). Jesus says it very clearly: if salt loses its taste, it’s no longer useful. Alas if salt loses its taste! Alas a Church that loses her taste! Watch out for a priest, a consecrated person, a Congregation that loses its taste!

Today, we give glory to the Father for the work that Saint Dominic carried out, full of the light and salt of Christ, 800 years ago; a work at the service of the Gospel, preached with the word and with life; a work that, with the grace of the Holy Spirit, has helped so many men and women to not be dispersed in the midst of the ‘carnival’ of worldly curiosity, but who instead savored the taste of healthy doctrine, the taste of the Gospel and became in turn light and salt, craftsmen of good works … and true brothers and sisters that glorify God and teach others to glorify God with the good works of life.”

Do you feast of the healthy doctrine? Do you savor the Gospel frequently? Let this invitation coming from Pope Francis inspire us to take advantage of all the faith formation programs at St. Catherine’s, especially the new small group program which in the coming months will study the Little Way of St. Therese of Lisieux. If you have any questions about what St. Catherine’s has to offer in support of your ongoing formation, contact Fr. Peter at [email protected]. Be the salt of the earth and the light of the world!