Pope Francis praises Assisi’s new ‘sanctuary of renunciation’
Pope Francis prays in Assisi’s Porziuncola, Aug. 4, 2016. L’OSSERVATORE ROMANO
VATICAN— Pope Francis on Sunday thanked Assisi’s bishop for creating a shrine dedicated to St. Francis of Assisi’s divestiture, when he renounced his family’s wealth, embracing poverty as he stripped himself of his fine clothes.
Recalling his October 2013 to Assisi and the Room of Renunciation in the archbishop’s residence, the Pope said that “in that room were so many eloquent testimonies to the scandalous reality of a world still so marked by the gap between an immense number of indigents, often deprived of basic necessities, and the miniscule portion of the rich who hold the greatest part of wealth and who think they can determine the destiny of humanity.”
Pope Francis’ Oct. 16 letter to Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino commended him for his decision to establish a shrine to St. Francis’ renunciation, which will be inaugurated May 20. It will be in Santa Maria Maggiore, the city’s original cathedral, and include access to the Room of Renunciation in the archbishop’s residence.
In his renunciation, St. Francis “stripped himself, to the point of nudity, of all earthly goods, to give himself entirely to God and to the brethren,” the Pope recalled. “Renouncing all earthly goods, he unchained himself from the enchantment of the god-money which had ensnared his family.”
“Certainly the young convert did not intend to disrespect his father, but he remembered that one who is baptized must put love for Christ above all other affections,” Pope Francis wrote.
“Unfortunately, 2,000 years after the announcement of the gospel and eight centuries from the testimony of Francis, we face a phenomenon of ‘global inequality’ and an ‘economy that kills’.”
He said, “the new Assisiani sanctuary was born as a prophecy of a society more just and in solidarity, and reminds the Church of its duty to live, in the footsteps of Francis, stripping itself of worldliness and investing itself with the values of the Gospel.”
For Pope Francis “today it is more necessary than ever that the words of Christ characterize the way and the style of the Church. If in so many traditionally Christian regions of the world there is a shift away from the faith, and we are therefore called to a new evangelization, the secret of our preaching is not so much in the force of our words, but in the charm of our testimony, sustained by grace.”
Recalling that St. Francis was told by Christ to repair his house, and that the Church is always in need of such repair – for “it is holy in the gifts it receives from above, but is formed by sinners, and therefore is always in need of penitence and renewal” – Pope Francis asked, “how can it renew itself, if not by looking to its ‘naked’ Lord?”
“Christ is the original model of ‘renunciation’,” he said. “In the Child of Bethlehem the divine glory is concealed, as it were. It will be even more veiled on Golgotha.”
“From Christmas to Easter, the way of Christ is entirely a mystery of ‘renunciation’. Omnipotence, in some way, is eclipsed, so that the glory of the Word made flesh is expressed above all in love and in mercy. Renunciation is a mystery of love! It does not mean disdain for the realities of the world. And how could it? The world is entirely from the hands of God … The renunciation teaches us to make use of them in a way marked by sobriety and solidarity, within a hierarchy of values which give to love the first place. One has to renounce, in substance, not so much things in themselves, but rather the egoism which encases us in our interests and our own goods, which prevents us from discovering the beauty of the other and the joy opening our heart.”
The Pope said that “an authentic Christian path leads not to sadness, but to joy. In a world marked by so much ‘individualistic sadness’, the Sanctuary of the Renunciation is meant to nourish in the Church and in society evangelical joy, simplicity, and solidarity.”