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Deacon-structing Let Us Dream

Deacon Pedro

Monday, January 11, 2021

Photo credit: Deacon Pedro Guevara-Mann
"Where sin increased, grace abounded all the more."
(Romans 5:20)
“Where the danger is, also grows the saving power.”
(Pope Francis in Let Us Dream, quoting Friedrich Hölderlin’s Hyperion)
Today I’d like to share with you some quotes from Pope Francis’ latest book, Let Us Dream: The Path to a Better Future (Simon & Shuster). This is a book that is personal and authentic. In content, it is very similar to other papal documents as in it the Holy Father writes many of the same things he’s said before. However, the book has a different tone. It is almost like having a conversation with the pope in which he shares what’s important to him and some principles that guide his papacy. I encourage everyone to read it. Whether you love Francis all the time or sometimes cannot understand what he says and does – whether you are Catholic or not, this book will explain much.
In order to give you a glimpse, I thought I’d share with you 20 quotes from Let Us Dream. I chose 20 because last year was a difficult year for many, and the book was written in the context of the crisis of 2020.
The pope begins by making reference to the story of Noah in Genesis, saying that it is not about how God offered a path of destruction, but rather, about all that followed:
“The regeneration of human society meant a return to respecting limits, curbing the reckless pursuit of wealth and power, looking out for the poor and those living on the edges. The introduction of the Sabbath and the Jubilee – moments of recovery and reparation, forgiving debts and restoring relationships – were key to that regeneration, giving time for the earth to bounce back, for the poor to find fresh hope, for people to find their souls again.  That is the grace available to us now, the light in the midst of our tribulation. Let us not throw it away.” (pg. 15)
In Let Us Dream, Pope Francis speaks on many topics divided into three sections: See, Choose, Act. Discernment, economics, the environment, fraternity, memory, solidarity, abortion, the media, and synodality are a few of the topics he covers. However, it is what he writes about the COVID-19 crisis and how we are to move forward from it that made the most impact on me. It reminded me why I initially thought of this crisis as a "spring". It's easy to forget.
Many of you may want to throw all of 2020 out with the trash. But there were many lessons and blessings last year. It is a year that requires much reflection.
May these quotes help guide your reflections on the year 2020.
A Time to See:
“Social distancing is a necessary response to a pandemic, but it cannot last without eroding our humanity. We were born not just for connection, but for contact.”  (pg. 23)
“It is all too easy for some to take an idea – in this case, for example, personal freedom – and turn it into an ideology, creating a prism through which they judge everything.” (pg. 27)
“For a long time we carried on thinking we could be healthy in a world that was sick. But the crisis has brought home how important it is to work for a healthy world.” (pg. 30)
“Sin is a rejection of the limits that love requires.” (pg. 34)
“A ‘stoppage’ can always be a good time for sifting, for reviewing the past, for remembering with gratitude who we are, what we have been given, and where we have gone astray.” (pg. 35)
“What is the greatest fruit of a personal Covid? I’d say patience, sprinkled with a healthy sense of humor, which allows us to endure and make space for change to happen.” (pg. 36)
“What I learned [from my own personal Covids] was that you suffer a lot, but if you allow it to change you, you come out better. But if you dig in, you come out worse.” (pg. 44)
A Time to Choose:
 “A time of trial is always a time of distinguishing the paths of the good that lead to the future from other paths that lead nowhere or backward.” (pg. 51)
“Ideas are debated, but reality is discerned.” (pg. 54)
“Whoever takes refuge in fundamentalism is afraid of setting out on the road to truth.” (pg. 55)
“A fruitful thought should always be unfinished in order to give space to subsequent development.” (pg. 55)
“There is no contradiction between being solidly rooted in the truth and at the same time being open to a greater understanding.” (pg. 57)
“Could it be that in this crisis the perspective women bring is what the world needs at this time to face the coming challenges?” (pg. 63)
“Where the Spirit is present, there is always a movement versus in unum, toward unity, but never toward uniformity. The Spirit always preserves the legitimate plurality of different groups and points of view, reconciling them in their diversity.” (pg. 65)
“One of the effects of conflict is to see as contradictions what are in fact contrapositions, as I like to call them. A contraposition involves two poles in tension, pulling away from each other: horizon/limit, local/global, whole/part, and so on. These are contrapositions because they are opposites that nonetheless interact in a fruitful, creative tension. As Guardini taught me, creation is full of these living polarities; they are what make us alive and dynamic. Contradictions on the other hand demand that we choose, between right and wrong. (Good and evil can never be a contraposition, because evil is not the counterpart of good but it’s negation.)” (pg. 79)
“Discerning in the midst of conflict requires us sometimes to pitch camp together, waiting for the skies to clear.” (pg. 94)
A Time to Act:
“Calamities unmask our shared vulnerability and expose those false, superfluous securities around which we had organized our plans, routines and priorities.” (pg. 99)
“We must not let the current clarifying moment pass us by. Let it not be said, in years to come, that in response to the coronavirus crisis we failed to act to restore the dignity of our peoples, to recover our memory and to remember our roots.” (pg. 99)
“If we are to come out of this crisis better, we have to recover the knowledge that as a people we have a shared destination. The pandemic has reminded us that no one is saved alone.” (pg. 107)
“…solidarity is not the sharing of crumbs from the table, but to make space at the table for everyone.” (pg. 110)
Towards the end of the book, the Holy Father writes, “We need now a Jubilee, a time when those who have more than enough should consume less to allow the earth to heal, and a time for the excluded to find their place in our societies” (pg. 128).
Indeed, may our experience of 2020 (and 2021 as we see it unfold) encourage us to consume, work, and drive less, to spend more time with family, to make time for more prayer and reflection, to heal, to consider differing opinions, to discern, to nurture and restore relationships, to be more inclusive and more grateful, to forgive more, to laugh more, and to suffer with each other.
That is the path to a better future.
For more information on "Let Us Dream", you may want to listen to Deacon Pedro's interview with the pope's collaborator, Austen Ivereigh on the Dec 19,2020 edition of the SLHour.

pedroEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching: [email protected]. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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