There are two distinct cultures in the world today and Pope Francis is standing on the bridge between them. There is the historical culture of the Church with beliefs in God and the devil. The Church is battling for the hearts and minds of everyone, believers and nonbelievers alike. And there is modern secular culture which offers an intellectual view for our ills which includes therapy and forgiveness. Pope Francis is standing on the bridge between religion and psychology. Can he illuminate the truth in both?
The worlds of religion and psychology both have their self righteousness and certainty in their position. On the one hand, God exists. There is a soul, sin and eternity for each of us. And for the other, God's existence is an unknown. What we know for sure is that we are psychological beings which explains violence in our world, the world we can do something about.
What Pope Francis represents is not so much the intellectual correctness of either world view, but a path for everyone to follow to find their own answers. What everyone is discovering is that Pope Francis is neither conservative or liberal, but something else. He is a mature psychological and spiritual being of our time, challenging us all. By choosing St. Francis of Assisi as his inspiration, Pope Francis has chosen the human saint who everyone of all religions and no religion can discover and enjoy.
Through the path of humility instead of self importance, love and forgiveness instead of judgment and control, St. Francis and Pope Francis show a path which takes the weeds out of our garden. The world of religion and psychology both have a selfishness and arrogance which is the root of much judgment and personal pain. Love of the heart whether we call it God or simple love opens and inspires. St. Francis offers a path to the great love. It is here that people find for themselves love, God, the power of forgiveness. It is in exploration of the heart of awareness that religion and psychology find their common ground. It is in his heart of awareness that Pope Francis is speaking, acting, laughing and crying with us all.
The heart of awareness is being found by many in the worlds of both psychology and religion through meditation. As a Jesuit, Pope Francis spent much time in silence and in the heart of reflection. As thought slows down and becomes less overwhelming, he discovered what is our heart essence. The vastness of inner peace found in meditation is changing many in their views of life beyond our physical world, the life of work and accumulating possessions. The vast presence found in our heart is changing many in their views of what gives life meaning and how we find purpose.
The simple peace found in meditation is turning many to want more simple peace in their daily lives. This is the spirit of St. Francis alive and well today. It is this spirit, which Pope Francis calls upon as he tries to be the hands and feet, words and heart of a giving God.
The path of letting go of excessive thought and receiving our heart is making people of both cultures instruments of peace. Pope Francis is simply repeating the words of St. Francis, calling us to be instruments of service. It is through our service that the world of personal psychology discovers we are part of a global humanity. And it is through service, the world of religion discovers what we judge as sin in others is more often than not, good people in difficult circumstances needing our love.
Where we all meet is in awareness of our own conscience. It is our conscience that modern education has too often left out of the classroom. And it is our conscience which tells believers of all kinds what it is to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is through silence, meditation and service that we discover the growth and clarity of our conscience. Pope Francis is reminding us of St. Francis and our potential of perfect joy. In our complicated world he is showing us clear steps. Pope Francis is betting that the path of St. Francis will bridge the worlds between religion and psychology, bringing us together and more important bringing us to the truth of our unlimited heart.
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