As I was reflecting on the fourteenth and last meditation before the Blessed Sacrament, I was wondering what would come next in this journey of ‘walking with my brother.’
So many are already writing so many good blogs on faith and on finding and following God’s way for us. I stopped to question what contribution I was making, whether to continue, what direction to take now that my meditation series is finished (for now anyway).
Meanwhile, I’ve been reading Chris Lowney’s excellent and insightful book, Why Pope Francis Leads The Way He Does. In it he discusses good leadership qualities and relates them to Pope Francis’ Jesuit training in Ignatian spirituality.
Mr. Lowney describes a student from the Jesuit Schools of Italy and Albania where the Pope was speaking in June 2013. The young student asked the Pope to say a few words to help him in his spiritual growth. In the student’s words,
I am Francesco Bassani, of the Istituto Leone XIII. I am a boy who, Papa, as I wrote in my letter to you, seeks to believe. I am searching… searching, yes, to be faithful. However I have difficulties. Sometimes doubts come to me. And I believe that this is absolutely normal for my age…I wanted to ask you for a few words to help me in my growth and to support all the other young people like me.
Pope Francis responsed:
Walking is an art; if we are always in a hurry we tire and cannot reach our destination, the destination of our journey. Yet if we stop and do not move, we also fail to reach our destination. Walking is precisely the art of looking to the horizon, thinking about where I want to go, and also coping with the weariness that comes from walking. Moreover, the way is often hard-going, it is not easy. “I want to stay faithful to this journey, but it is not easy; listen: there is darkness, there are days of darkness, days of failure, and some days of falling… someone falls, falls”. Yet always keep this in your thoughts: do not be afraid of failure, do not be afraid of falling. In the art of walking it is not falling that matters, but not “staying fallen”. Get up quickly, immediately, and continue to go on. And this is beautiful: it is working every day, it is walking humanly. But also: it is terrible to walk alone, terrible and tedious. Walking in community, with friends, with those who love us: this helps us, it helps us to arrive precisely at the destination where we must arrive. I don’t know if I have answered your question. Have you understood? You won’t be afraid of the journey?
Well, I ‘walk VERY humanly’ indeed.
This response from Il Papa seemed to be a message aimed directly at my wavering heart.
…do not be afraid of failure, do not be afraid of falling. In the art of walking it is not falling that matters, but not “staying fallen.” Get up quickly, immediately, and continue to go on.
Pope Francis June 2013
It inspired the following five steps for ‘walking in the way.’
Walking in the Way
- When we’re walking – remember that God is walking there beside us. Talk to Him. Enjoy His presence. Get to know Him along the Way. Thank Him for letting you feel His presence there with you.
- When we tire – rest, remember our purpose, recalibrate our destination, refuel our body, reflect on God’s goodness.
- When we’re refreshed, get up and move on along the way.
- ‘If we fall, get up,’ as Pope Francis says, ‘the failure is not in falling, the failure is in “staying fallen.”’
- Walk with others, with friends, those who can keep you from straying too far from the path, who can dust you off when you’ve fallen, those for whom you can return these favors.
Thank You, Father.