Pope Francis has many critics. We at Where Peter Is have documented many of these critics both inside and outside of the Church.
Yet as Catholics we also are called to support the Holy Father. Our words and actions doing so need not be complicated. In fact, here are five simple ways every Catholic can support Pope Francis in our day-to-day Christian living :
1 – Pray for Pope Francis
Prayer is conversation with God. Through prayer we open our hearts to receiving God’s blessing. We should always pray for our leaders since their leadership affects us and society around us.
As visible head of the Catholic Church, we should pray each day for Pope Francis. Our prayer need not be long or complicated. For example, one popular tradition when praying the Rosary is to conclude with an Our Father, a Hail Mary, and a Glory Be for the Holy Father’s intentions. Another example is to implore the protection of St Michael or St Joseph over Pope Francis, (the head of one’s Church if one is Eastern Catholic,) one’s bishop, and one’s parish priest.
The prayer need only be simple. However, there is nothing wrong with offering longer prayers like a rosary if one feels called to do so.
2 – Offer your reception of Holy Communion for Pope Francis
Vatican II proclaimed the sacraments–and especially the Eucharist–as the source and the summit of our spiritual lives as Catholics. Through the Eucharist the Holy Spirit draws us closer to Christ, and through Christ to each other. Consider supporting the Holy Father spiritually by offering your next reception of Holy Communion for Pope Francis and his special ministry of unity within the Church.
3 – Read Pope Francis’s writings
Like the vast majority of his predecessors, Pope Francis is a Roman Pontiff whose writings must be understood in context. In my experience, laypeople are most vulnerable to criticism against the Holy Father when their only exposure to his writings is through small selections chosen by his critics. Therefore, take time to familiarize yourself personally with his writings.
My usual recommendation is to follow a four-step process: 1) Pray to the Holy Spirit for guidance; 2) Read the papal document through once for general context; 2) Then re-read each paragraph slowly, taking time to reflect on its meaning; and 4) Ask oneself how one can apply the Holy Father’s teaching to one’s own life as a Christian.
4 – Be generous with the Poor
Pope Francis is admired by many–including non-Catholics and non-Christians–for his love and advocacy for society’s less fortunate. “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of these the least of these my brethren, you did it to me,” Jesus states (Matt 25:40). Following the example of Pope Francis, be generous with the poor and less fortunate–generous with your almsgiving, generous with your time, and generous with your attitude towards them.
5 – Fast
In the Christian tradition, fasting goes hand-in-hand with prayer and almsgiving. Offer up a fast for Pope Francis. It need not be a big fast; small sacrifices can also contribute to God’s blessing. So consider giving up dessert after supper, or popcorn while watching a movie with friends.
Fasting can also be non-culinary. For example, one might fast from media sources often critical of the Holy Father. In its place one can use the time reading and meditating upon the Holy Father’s latest daily Angelus or homily. Which brings us to a second point about fasting: It is not just about giving something up, but about replacing what was given up with a positive spiritual practice.
Christ has entrusted Pope Francis as the successor of St Peter with the special ministry of visible unity within the Church. Thus as Catholics we are all called to support the Holy Father. What has been presented are five simple ways in which every Catholic can support Pope Francis spiritually.
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Pete Vere is a canonist, author, and catechist. His books include Surprised by Canon Law (volumes 1 & 2), More Catholic Than The Pope, and Annulments: 100 Questions and Answers. Pete and wife Sonya are blessed with seven children. In his spare time Pete enjoys camping with his family, riding his Indian Scout motorcycle, and refereeing professional wrestling.