"Rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God who is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in mercy." Joel 2:13
Pope Francis I was just elected. It is as if God just gave us the bishop from Les Miserables as pope. A member of the Society of Jesus, a man of deep prayer and a priest of profound concern for the poor. At the beginning of Lent, preaching on a text from the Prophet Joel, he made an impassioned plea to the clergy and religious of Argentina, "The Kingdom of God may need our hearts torn by the desire for conversion and for the love, the breaking forth of grace and the effective gesture to ease the pain of our brothers and sister who walk together with us."
His message is poignant against indifference to sin and the social evils that choke out the life of prayer. No one can pray very deeply if they are callous to those God has entrusted to us, especially the most vulnerable. At the same time, this wound of sin is too deep to be addressed by merely external actions and gestures. Our hearts must be torn by the fact that we are not effectively protecting and loving the most vulnerable in our society. The love of God heals sin and wakes us up out of our spiritual slumber. This is the threshold to deep intimacy with Christ who is also concerned for the plight of the most vulnerable and identifies Himself with them. I have offered some further reflections over at Dan Burke's Roman Catholic Spiritual Direction blog.
In the meantime, here is a report from a seminarian in Rome.