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.

Conclusion

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.

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.

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7 Responses

  1. carn says:

    Good advice, although for me personally number 3 maybe should even be avoided. Whether i read snippets or entire exhortations, once or often, the only constant is that i see several different ways to understand the text; some do not making sense, some illogical, some potentially in violation of some church teaching.

    • Pete Vere says:

      That’s the nice thing about each of these ways of supporting Pope Francis. One need not do all of them. Rather do those that resonate with you spirituality.

  2. Joseph says:

    I had the great honor of meeting the Holy Father last year at a General Audience. He asked me to pray for him… not once… not twice,,, but three times. It’s not just a throwaway line for him. He was insisting on it, and he wouldn’t move on from me until he was sure I had understood him.

    • Pete Vere says:

      Joseph, thank-you for sharing this beautiful testimony of your experience with the Holy Father and prayer.

      • Joseph says:

        Happy to share it. When people find out that I met Pope Francis, they often ask me “How did you do that?” I answer, “I didn’t. God did.” It was nothing short of a miracle. What a very humbling experience to be given the opportunity to meet him, receive his Apostolic Blessing and even hug him. I still get choked up when I talk about it and it’s been almost nine months already. So, when I read some of the awful things some people say about the Holy Father online, I take it quite personally, even more than I did before I met him. I try my best not to let the attacks tempt me to respond in kind, but rather to let them serve as reminders of his request to me, and the promise I made to him, to pray for him.

  3. jong ricafort says:

    Pete Vere thanks a lot. This is really a great advice and this really works. You see in social media even in mainstream Pope Francis is always the subject of slight to evil criticism..We called it calumny or slander,and I happen to read St.Philip Neri called the slanderer a “chicken plucker” it’s really has a deep humor and TRUTH.These people who daily assassinate the character of Pope Francis either funded or doing for personal motives cannot see the great evil of their works or worst if they knew it is evil and still do it.
    And in the talk of Ralph Martin and in the article of Ted Flynn about the root of DUBIA…It confirms and enlightened me from where the source of DUBIA originates…Right from the very beginning from the Garden of Eden, as Ralph Martin said the serpent said “Did God really said that?”…Satan tactics and main arsenal is to sow seeds of DUBIA. And Ted Flynn stated that there are only TWO opposing forces in this world Light vs. Darkness or Dubia vs. Faith.
    For me having followed, read articles and watched numerous videos of Pope Francis my admiration to this Luminous Pope grows higher everyday…Pope Francis profound wisdom and humility strikes me a lot, and Pope Francis courage stood tall when He said He don’t care if the Church get’s dirtied and bruised in Her effort to seek the lost & wounded soul…Pope Francis is the Great Physician of the wounded soul right now…He is living the Gospel of Jesus from the heart which Pope Benedict XVI said it is the “Divine Mercy”.
    Pastoral Care and Discernment is really the BREATHE of the New Evangelization.
    And I’m really burned alive by Sis. Ann Shields talk too, Her message coming from 1975 Charismatic Conference in Vatican is CONVERSION….
    And guess what Pope Francis is echoing now the Conversion of all Clergy and Faithful.
    It’s the signs of times….It’s the Age of the Holy Spirit.
    “Come Holy Spirit, come thru the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary your well beloved Spouse.
    Godbless.S&IHMMP4us.Amen

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