POPE’S MESSAGE | Christians share hope, not ‘vinegar of bitterness’

Alessandro Garofalo | Reuters
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VATICAN CITY — Christians are called to be "sowers of hope," consoling and defending the poor and anyone in need, Pope Francis said.

As Christians prepared to celebrate Pentecost June 4, Pope Francis used his weekly general audience May 31 to speak about the power of the Holy Spirit to strengthen the hope of believers and to send them forth to instill hope in others.

Sowing bitterness or perplexity, he said, "isn't Christian and if you do this, you aren't Christian. Sow hope. Spread the oil of hope, diffuse the perfume of hope and not the vinegar of bitterness and hopelessness."

In his Letter to the Romans (15:13), St. Paul prays, "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Having an abundance of hope, Pope Francis said, means not only hoping that when life is over one will be with God. It also means having the strength today to continue hoping "even when there is less human reason for hoping."

"Hope truly is like a sail," the pope said. "It gathers the wind of the Spirit and transforms it into a driving force that pushes the boat out to sea or to the shore, depending on circumstances."

"It pushes us to go forward, always forward," he said. The Holy Spirit "makes us feel like pilgrims and strangers and does not allow us to sit back and become a sedentary people."

Jesus promised His disciples the Holy Spirit as a "paraclete," a provider of consolation and a defense, the pope said, and those who have been blessed with the gifts of the Holy Spirit are in turn called to console and defend others.

"Console and defend like the Holy Spirit does for each of us who are here in the square. Console and defend," he said. "We must be the same for the neediest, the discarded, those who need it most, those who suffer most. Console and defend."

Saying, "This seems strange, but it's true," Pope Francis noted how St. Paul also taught that the Holy Spirit gives hope to all of creation, which is "groaning in labor pains" but expectant in hope. "This pushes us to respect creation: one cannot sully a painting without offending the artist who created it." 

Pope: Get a spiritual EKG to make sure heart pulsates with Holy Spirit

VATICAN CITY — Never speak, act or make a decision without first listening to the Holy Spirit, who moves, troubles and inspires the heart, Pope Francis advised.

A cold and calculating heart that is closed to the Holy Spirit results in a faith that is "ideological," he said May 29 at a morning Mass in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae.

Knowing God and His commandments, and being good aren't enough, the pope said. One must also receive God's gift of the Holy Spirit and let Him "trouble" the heart.

If people were to get a "spiritual electrocardiogram," the pope asked, would it be flatlined because the heart is hardened, unmoved and emotionless or would it be pulsating with the prompting and prods of the Spirit?

"Am I able to listen to Him? Am I able to ask for His inspiration before making a decision or saying something or doing something? Or is my heart serene, without emotion, an immobile heart," much like the doctors of the law had, he asked.

"They believed in God, they knew all the commandments, but the heart was closed, immobile, they didn't let it become troubled," the pope said.

Christians cannot just listen to their head and calculated reason, he said. They must learn to listen and discern what the Holy Spirit is saying to their hearts, too, "because the Holy Spirit is the master of discernment."

The pope asked people to reflect on their relationship with the Holy Spirit and pray that the Spirit guide them in the choices they make. "I ask that He give me the grace to distinguish the good from the less good because good can be distinguished from evil easily," the pope said.

— Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service 

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