In celebration of the release of Pope Francis’s book, The Church of Mercy, several of our dotMagis bloggers will be sharing reflections this month based on the words of Pope Francis.
Pope Francis is a Jesuit, formed in the spirituality of the Spiritual Exercises. So it’s not surprising that he zeroed in on one of the central ideas of Ignatian spirituality when he found himself in front of a group of students from Jesuit high schools last June.
That idea is freedom. Each of us has a part to play in the great drama of Christ’s work to save and heal the world, and our challenge is to learn what that work is and to choose to do it. This is what we most deeply desire, but there’s a problem. We desire many things—a rewarding career, friends and lovers, good health, security, comfort, a good reputation, peace of mind, and many more. In the midst of all these desires and options and goals, how do we focus on the most important thing—to love and serve God and other people?
The answer, Pope Francis said, is freedom. We need to be free from what Ignatius called “disordered attachments”—those wants and yearnings, some good, some not so good, that can govern our decisions and ultimately control our lives. It’s no small task. Francis wasn’t kidding when he said that being free is demanding. It requires a great deal of discernment, prayer, reflection, and grace to sort through the confusion of desires and attachments and find what it is that we most deeply desire.
Ignatius believed that our deepest, truest desires have been placed in our hearts by God. So when we finally find what we really want, we find what God wants too. That’s the promise of freedom.