Welcome to Starting Seven, The Pillar’s daily newsletter.
I’m Luke Coppen and I seek to guide you each weekday morning to the most interesting Catholic news and comment.
😇 Today’s feast: St. Peter Canisius.
📜 Today’s readings: Sg 2:8-14 ▪ Ps 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21 ▪ Lk 1:39-45.
🗞 Starting seven
6: Daniel Philpott explains how “restorative justice” could help to heal the wounds of abuse in the U.S. Church.
🇻🇦 Today’s Bollettino
Appointment of Fr. Antônio Aparecido de Marcos Filho as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Brasília, Brazil.
🧐 Look closer
A discerning choice Unlike his interviews, Pope Francis’ general audience addresses rarely create ripples in the international media. Unless, that is, they feature circus performers or hecklers, or strain interfaith relations. But his Wednesday audiences arguably offer a deeper insight into his pontifical priorities.
Take his current catechetical cycle, launched in August and dedicated to the theme of discernment. The topic is at the heart of the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order to which Pope Francis belongs.
As Pope Francis said at a Mass launching the process in 2021, “The Synod is a process of spiritual discernment, of ecclesial discernment, that unfolds in adoration, in prayer and in dialogue with the word of God.”
The Synodal Process is arguably incomprehensible without understanding what Pope Francis means by discernment — a concept so rich that he has so far devoted 13 audiences to describing it.
Faith, hope, and old age Pope Francis is not the first pontiff to indicate his priorities through his general audiences. John Paul II famously outlined his “theology of the body” in his weekly addresses to Rome’s pilgrims from 1979 to 1984.
Pope Francis has tended to relate his audience cycles to current events. His first general audience, on March 27, 2013, fell in Holy Week, providing a ready-made topic for his debut. After Easter, he picked up where Benedict had left off in his catecheses for the Year of Faith.
At the end of 2014, Francis launched a series devoted to the family, coinciding with the family synods. In 2015, he began to focus on mercy, as the Church marked the Jubilee of Mercy. His other cycles include one on Christian hope in 2016, prayer in 2020, and the Letter to the Galatians and St. Joseph in 2021 (amid the Year of St. Joseph).
No drama When obituaries of Pope Francis come to be published, few are likely to mention his general audiences. They offer little drama in an otherwise action-packed reign. But they are an important facet of his teaching for anyone seeking a rounded view of this pontificate.
🔍 Stories to watch
🇪🇺 European Church leaders have issued a joint Christmas message appealing for steps “towards a just peace” in Ukraine.
📅 Coming soon
Dec. 25 Pope gives Christmas blessing “Urbi et Orbi” (to the city and the world) at noon.
Dec. 26 St. Stephen.
Dec. 29 Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga turns 80.
Dec. 30 Feast of the Holy Family.
Dec. 31 Pope presides at Vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica for the Solemnity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God.
Jan. 1 Pope celebrates Mass on the Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God, in St. Peter’s Basilica at 10 a.m., and prays the Angelus at noon; Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva sworn in as Brazil’s president; Fr. Mike Schmitz’s “Catechism in a Year” podcast begins.
Have a happy feast of St. Peter Canisius.
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