Monday, June 22, 2015
REACTIONS TO THE ENCYCLICAL: THE POPE AS ARTIST
From the beginning my Church has been what she still is and what she will be until the last day: a scandal for strong spirits, a disappointment for weak spirits, and a test and a consolation for interior souls who seek only me. Indeed, Brother Martin, whoever looks for me there finds me, but that is where I must be found.
And in the Church I am more hidden than people think, or than some of my priests want to make you believe - harder to find even than in the little stable at Bethlehem, for those, that is, who do not approach me humbly, in the tracks of the Magi and the Shepherds.
For it's true that they've built me palaces, with endless galleries and peristyles, magnificently lit by night and by day and thronging with guards and sentinels. But, to find me there - the same as on that ancient road of Judaea buried under snow - the cleverest among you still has only to ask me for the one thing necessary: and this is a star and a pure heart.
Just think of it! After fifteen centuries, you still see people everywhere who boast of being better than others, simply because they belong to me. You'd think I'd chosen them for their beautiful faces and their lovely souls! Poor children!
Anyone can suffer for the Church, Brother Martin. It is necessary to suffer through her!
The only way of reforming the vices of the Church is to lavish on her the example of one's most heroic virtues. It's quite possible that Saint Francis of Assisi was not any less thrown into revolt than Luther by the debauchery and simony of prelates. We can even be sure that his suffering on this account was fiercer because his nature was very different from the monk of Wittenberg.
But Francis did not challenge iniquity; he was not tempted to confront it; instead, he threw himself into poverty, immersing himself in it as deeply as possible along with his followers. He found in poverty the very source and wellspring of all absolution and all purity. Instead of attempting to snatch from the Church all her ill-gotten goods, he overwhelmed her with invisible treasures, and under the hand of this beggar the heaps of gold and lust began blossoming like an April hedge.
Ah yes, I'm well aware that in these matters, comparisons aren't worth much, especially when seasoned with a little humor. Would you still allow me to say, however, in order to be better understood by some readers, that what the Church needs is not critics but artists? When poetry is in full crisis, the important thing is not to point the finger at bad poets but oneself to write beautiful poems, thus unstopping the sacred springs.
Bernanos, Brother Martin