Friday, July 5, 2013

Fr. Alfonso Gómez, S.J., " When He Gave Us Classes In Pastoral Theology, He Would Focus On The Sermons Of St. Augustine To Pastors"

Fr. Alfonso Gómez, S.J
Fr. Bergoglio, as superior of the community, was a cultivator of personal relationships. He was very concerned with the daily routine of the house, but he was even more concerned with the spiritual development of all the Jesuits. He was an attentive superior and one who always kept up an ongoing conversation with each of his seminarians. Once, an old brother, “Brother Recluse,” a man raised in the countryside, said: “You have the best Rector that I have seen. He knows you so well that he even knows the number of fleas on your head.” The house and the students did not have fleas, since everything was clean. But the expression was clear—he knew us all very well.
 When he gave us classes in Pastoral Theology, he would focus on the sermons of St. Augustine to Pastors. 
He emphasized that the Good Shepherd goes out to find the lost sheep (the sheep that have strayed the most); he cares for them; he gives them the best food; he works to nourish them; he watches them day and night; he is available; he neither gets discouraged in the face of adversity, nor does he flee danger. 
The bad shepherd, on the other hand, contents himself with attending to a small group (“he grooms his sheep”); he worries more about his own well-being than about the sheep; he does not go out to find the stray sheep; he keeps his distance and does not get involved
As Archbishop of Buenos Aires, the now Pope Francis became known for supporting those priests who live in the poorest places (the “villas”). He visited them frequently for confirmations and patronal feast days. What is more, he traveled by public bus to these parishes. Once, when traveling in this way, he ran into one of the parishioners who told him: “You are one of us. Not only do you visit us, but you travel with us.” As a result of his actions, the number of priests in the villas grew more than threefold during his time as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.
Link (here) to the full essay by Fr. Alfonso Gómez, S.J. is the former provincial of the Jesuits of Argentina and of Uruguay at The New Jesuit Review


Ray said...

Too many pastors today sit in the rectory waiting for those in need to come to their door. If they leave they never/rarely try and find their lost parishioners. Emblazoned in my mind are several pastors from the past who made it their mission to go to every home in the parish once a year and chat with the folks. One conversation I remember was, "I see you at Church every week but I haven't seen you involved with any of the parish organizations". After he left I remember examining my conscience and admitting he was right. Actually did make an effort to be an active parishioner. We never see this in my parish today. I am now very active in my parish, one could surmise this could have had something to do with that pastor from 40 years ago, couldn't one?

Qualis Rex said...

Ray - there have always been good and bad priests; since the time of the apostles (hence the epistles). When the priest is a pastor in a smaller parish, it is somewhat easier to visit every family in a year, than in a large city parish in say, Chicago. And I would add that a priest who is very involved with his parishoners but who is completely errant in theology and doctrine (i.e. Pfleger back in the Chicago example) is worse than a priest who never visits parishoners at all.

TonyD said...

I've always found the Mormons interesting. They have 3 hours of Church every Sunday, and a very active week -- due to a variety of organizations that you have "automatically" joined (priesthood, young mens, young womens,...) Being Mormon is really a lifestyle -- and there are many explicit reminders of their obligations to God, including an obligation for Sunday attendance.

Ironically, their founding prophet, Joseph Smith, didn't like Church on Sunday. It was the early Church members who came from other faiths who insisted on arranging Sunday meetings. Joseph Smith believed that each person should serve God every day. He was quite critical of those who "wore faith on their shirtsleeves".

At this point, I've read a lot of Joseph Smith's writings and I consider him to be a prophet. Like all prophets, he had a specific message for a specific people at a specific point in time. Unfortunately, much of that message has been lost in the current Mormon church -- as bureaucracy has replaced inspiration.