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Fraser Trevor Fraser Trevor Author
Title: Most High, glorious God, enlighten the shadows of my heart, and grant me a right faith, a certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may accomplish your holy and true command. Amen.
Author: Fraser Trevor
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Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse )  “Most High, glorious God, enlighten the shadows of my heart, and grant me...
Pope Francis Portrait Painting
Pope Francis Portrait Painting (Photo credit: faithmouse)
 “Most High, glorious God, enlighten the shadows of my heart, and grant me a right faith, a certain hope and perfect charity, sense and understanding, Lord, so that I may accomplish your holy and true command. Amen.”
It was quoted in full by Pope Francis on the day before Easter.
The Pope applied this prayer of St Francis to his own theme of the Shroud of Turin, regarded as an “icon”. He said: “This disfigured face resembles all those faces of men and women marred by a life which does not respect their dignity, by war and violence which afflict the weakest.” Yet “the face on the Shroud conveys a great peace” he thought, “as if to say: have faith, do not lose hope; the power of the love of God, the power of the Risen One overcomes all.”
It is only a month since this pope was elected. We are still trying to make him out. Popes have speech-writers just as prime ministers do (Ronald Millar having put the “prayer of St Francis” on Margaret Thatcher’s lips). But Pope Francis’s quotation from his patron saint no doubt reflects his thoughts, as must, for example, the simplicity of his language on Maundy Thursday when washing inmates’ feet at a young offenders’ institute.
Last Sunday he also quoted a “great German theologian”, Romano Guardini, to the effect that “God responds to our weakness by his patience, and this is the reason for our confidence, our hope”. Pope Francis then developed, very interestingly, a passage from St Bernard about that remarkable biblical love-poem, the Song of Songs.
At one moment, in quoting St Bernard, (“Through the wounds of Jesus I can suck honey from the rock”) he sounded like the Calvinist Augustus Toplady, the author of Rock of Ages. At another moment, quoting St Paul (“Where sin has abounded, there grace has abounded all the more”) he sounded like Bunyan. This is no surprise, since Catholic and Puritan belief is largely alike, though people notice the differences.
But Guardini (1885-1968), a reforming liturgist, is a writer that Pope Benedict XVI often quoted. He had written, as Cardinal Ratzinger, a new introduction to Guardini’s classic The Lord. And he chose Guardini to quote in his last public remarks in Rome as its bishop. The Church, in Guardini’s words, he said, “is not an institution conceived and built in theory … but a living reality. … She lives through the course of time, in becoming, like every living being, in undergoing change. … And yet in her nature she remains ever the same and her heart is Christ.” What Pope Francis makes of that we shall see.
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