• 9780824519971
Larrázabal (Author) Pope Francis (Author)

Open Mind, Faithful Heart

Reflections on Following Jesus
  • Imprint: Crossroad
  • Imprint: Crossroad
  • Imprint: Crossroad
  • Imprint: Crossroad
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  • Title: Open Mind, Faithful Heart
  • Subtitle: Reflections on Following Jesus
  • Page Count: 320
  • Available Formats: Cloth (9780824519971), Epub (9780824520250), Mobipocket (9780824520267), Trade-paper (9780824520854)
  • Edition: Cloth
  • Original language: English
  • Retail US: Cloth (29.95), Epub (22.99), Mobipocket (22.99), Trade-paper (16.95)
  • Retail Canada: Cloth (30.95), Epub (23.99), Mobipocket (23.99), Trade-paper (20.95)
  • Retail Canada: 30.95

Larrázabal (Author)

Pope Francis (Author)

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope on March 13, 2013, taking the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. His priestly ordination was in 1969, and in 1992, he was consecrated auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires and given the titular see of Auca. He became Buenos Aires’s coadjutor bishop in 1997, succeeded as the see’s archbishop the following year, and was elevated to cardinal in 2001. He is the author of The Power to Serve. Gustavo Larrázabal, CMF, is a Claretian missionary from Argentina. He is the former publisher of Claretian Publications of Buenos Aires. As the editor of the works of Cardinal Bergoglio, he is also a close friend. Joseph Owens, SJ, is a Jesuit who has spent most of his active career working in the Caribbean and Central America. His various ministries have included grass-roots organizing, pastoral work, radio apostolate, and teaching.

  1. Open Mind, Faithful Heart contains the texts of 48 meetings Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio had with priests in Argentina. While the contents of the book, replete with Scripture references, were meant primarily for the clergy, the laity can certainly gain insights from them. Some of those insights, however, may be unwelcome initially — because they involve conquering our own pride. The person who does not connect in some way with Open Mind, Faithful Heart is either spiritually blind or a veritable saint. Readers will be relentlessly but lovingly challenged throughout the book, now available in English, to remove all barriers between themselves and the sacred humanity of Christ. Three common barriers are impatience, unfaithfulness and lack of surrender in prayer. Regarding impatience, Cardinal Bergoglio taught priests in Buenos Aires the following: “In attempting to skip over stages of growth, the impatient heart ceases to be a creature; it becomes, instead, a creator of shallow projects of protest that are inherently self-seeking.” So what’s the answer? Christian hope: “In [Christ] we learn that God is great above all, that sin is ephemeral and that patience and constancy are born of hope.” This is why, the cardinal explained, the kingdom of God does not come about suddenly, but is slowly realized until the final coming of Christ. Regarding unfaithfulness, Cardinal Bergoglio pointed out: “When we are unfaithful, we usually betray not just ideas, but concrete persons.” “Joy is the sign that our hearts have found what is good for them. But the ultimate good for our hearts does not consist in our domination of any situation,” he stated. “Our ultimate good lies in our love for concrete persons: for our neighbors, for Our Lady, for [the] Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Over and above these concrete persons, there exists no ideal realm of values that merits our zealous efforts.” Behind unfaithfulness, impatience or any other failing is a lack of surrender in prayer, he said. We should heed the advice in Open Mind, Faithful Heart: “Our ability to seek out, discover, define and orient our mission — and be obedient to it — comes to us and grows in us only through prayer.”  The fulfillment of this destiny takes a mind open to the truth of God and a heart faithful to that truth, as Cardinal Bergoglio well reminds readers.
  2. [Open Mind, Faithful Heart] is a call to faithfulness and a warning against the temptations that every Christian feels at one point or another: tiredness, jadedness, settling into a comfortable life, clinging to power. There is not, however, a different message for each group, but one and the same for all. The call is to joy, but to a deep joy that is rooted in the cost of discipleship. "Pope Francis leads the reader into demanding propositions, and yet he manages to make them sound completely attainable."
    --U.S. Catholic
  3. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, compiled this book from many of his sermons and retreat conferences. His goal was to present Christian living on a day-to-day basis. There are 48 small chapters in this book, and these small chapters are divided into four major themes: The first fourteen small chapters center on one’s spiritual efforts: “How We Can Encounter Jesus.” The second section has only eight small chapters, and the centering theme for these reflections is: “How Can We Manifest the Light of Jesus.” The third section centers on the six churches mentioned in the Apocalypse. Pope Francis asks us to put ourselves in the presence of Jesus and let the words of these seven letters bring us consolation and comfort, and he opens up before us the symbols described in each of the letters. The first letter to the church at Ephesus is entitled “Recapturing the First Love.” In each of his reflections, Pope Francis helps us reclaim our love for Jesus. The final section is the longest, written in eighteen small reflections. In these reflections Pope Francis takes us through a variety of human moments in which we might either doubt our spiritual strength or find our strength in Jesus. When I read these forty-eight small reflections, I had to stop after each one of them since each of the reflections touches on powerful aspects of spirituality. I came to the conclusion that this book should be read, not in one or two days, but in forty-eight days. Each day, I could read a single reflection in the morning and meditate on it during the remainder of the day. In these small but powerful meditations, Pope Francis centers us on a brief passage from the New Testament. Often, these passages contain an admonition from Jesus himself. Then, Pope Francis begins to explain Jesus’ message in a way that involves our contemporary spiritual life. What Jesus said makes sense to us today, in our days of trial and sadness and in our days of joy and love. I truly believe that the words of Pope Francis in each of these small meditations need to be read slowly, with a time to think and rethink the meaning of what he says. This small volume is much more a book which needs to be read little by little, with intervals of careful meditation. For busy people, today, this small book can be a solid basis for one’s day-by-day spiritual response to Jesus’ call to each one of us. Pope Francis’ reflections touch on aspects of our modern life and these reflections help us in a rich way to grow in a day-by-day form of down-to-earth spirituality.
    --Fr. Kenan B. Osborne, OFM
  4. It is nothing new to say that the world is fascinated with Pope Francis. His humble tone, his embrace of the poor, and his words, both prepared as in his homilies and encyclicals as well as in his off-the-cuff remarks, have sparked an interest in this humble Jesuit Pope that seems to go on unabated. As a deacon in a small Utah parish, I have certainly shared that interest and the question in my mind, as in the minds of so many others, has been—who is this man? What is the provenance of the many refreshing things he has been saying and doing? A partial answer to those questions can be found in the recently published book, Open Mind, Faithful Heart with the subtitle: Reflections on Following Jesus by: Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Pope Francis). The book is a collection of short writings by Pope Francis prepared while he was archbishop of Buenos Aires, and which he intended to publish when he reached age 75 and would turn in his resignation to the Pope. Fortunately for the world, that retirement has been postponed. But the writings have been published and give us a welcome insight into both the mind and the heart of the Holy Father. They reveal the spirit of a devoted son of the Church who is steeped in the scriptures and the writings of the Church fathers as well as classical literature. And they show the pastoral side of someone who is familiar not only with the halls of the Vatican but with the barrios of Buenos Aires as well. In many ways, Open Mind, Faithful Heart reads like the text for a retreat led by a skilled retreat master. Part I: Encounters With Jesus is written in true Ignatian style, with the reader invited to an intimate participation in the life and ministry of Jesus. Each of the short reflections in this section is centered on a scene from the gospels where Jesus is encountered. After breaking open the meaning hidden in these accounts, the reader is invited to prayer and reflection utilizing questions that draw upon the highlighted text. This format could be especially useful for prayer groups wishing to deepen their encounter with Jesus under the guidance of a spiritual master who knows him well. Encounters With Jesus is followed by three other divisions: Part II: Manifestations of Light, Part III: The Letters to the Seven Churches, and Part IV: Human Prayer. In Manifestations of Light, I found some of the thoughts of then Archbishop Borgoglio that seem to now be echoing in the words of Pope Francis. For example, his compassion for the poor in a reflection on the Gospel narratives of Jesus’ birth: “The preferences of God do not incline toward social elites or the worldly wise, but only toward the lowly, simple folk who insert themselves into history as servants of the only ‘Servant,’ the one who gives meaning to the whole of our journey.” (page 130). His joy: “By bearing witness, we produce light that provokes joy, and from the joy flows glory.” (page 134). And love: “The gift of Christ we receive from the Father is a manifestation of love…” (page 143). These and many more insights can be found in this section. Part III contains a series of reflections on perhaps one of the more difficult scriptures for exegesis—the Apocalypse, or the Book of Revelation. Drawing on such sources as Romano Guardini and Hans Urs von Balthazar, Pope Francis teases out of this highly symbolic text a meaning that has direct relevance to everyday ministry. A sampling of the headings found in this section prove this point: Ephesus—Recapturing the First Love; Smyrna—Overcoming Fatigue and Bitterness; Sardis—Restoring Self Respect. For anyone leading a Bible study class that decides to take on the obscure imagery of the Book of Revelation, this book would be a most valuable companion text for eliciting insights that might otherwise be overlooked. As a regular preacher, I found Part IV of Open Mind, Faithful Heart to be most valuable. Here again we find practical applications of the gospel message, something every preacher should be looking for: “loving justice with a desert thirst, preferring the wealth of poverty to the impoverishment produced by worldly wealth, opening our hearts with gentleness rather than inflaming them with ferocity…” This section is filled with gems that can enrich any homily. And what better authority to cite than that of Pope Francis? Not only is Part IV filled with excellent exegesis, it is as well a wise and gentle affirmation of prayer as the climate out of which all good preaching arises. I finished this book feeling that I knew Pope Francis better. The media may not find in this collection of essays the one-liners that are heard so often. But anyone who delves into this book will come away knowing that, indeed, the world has a pope with truly an open mind and a faithful heart.
    --Deacon Michael E. Bulson, St. Andrew Parish, Riverton, Utah
  5. Before I even read Open Mind, Faithful Heart, I was reading endorsements about this book. Some billed it as a book that would reveal the secrets and future of the papacy under Pope Francis. However, after reading the book, I would say that is not the case at all. Instead, you will find Ignatian-inspired spiritual reflections, which hopefully help the reader learn how to grow nearer to Jesus. Part One is appropriately titled "Encountering Jesus." In this section, we see various passages of the Gospels in which Jesus was speaking directly to people. In addition to passages where he addresses his disciples, there are also passages where he addresses Pharisees and Sadducees. I was glad he included those latter passages, as I was able to see how sometimes I too can act like a Pharisee. Part Two's focus is divine revelation and the history of salvation. In this part, we see reflections that deal with Christ coming to save us, man's rejection of Him, and the role of the Church after Christ's Resurrection and Ascension. Part Three was easily my favorite part as it discussed the Book of Revelation, primarily the Seven Letters to the Seven Churches found in Revelation 2 and 3. Though these letters were written by St. John to seven specific churches in his time, they also contain relevant messages to the Church in our time. Part Four is the longest section in this book as it touches on human prayer. In this section, we are provided with glimpses of Biblical figures, like Moses and Job, as it relates to prayer. Lastly, we are provided with the ultimate example of prayer in Jesus. This book is an enlightening and refreshing read. Not all passages are easily read by your average laymen. Some are very theological and geared specifically at priests. However, each one is beautiful and shows us the thoughts of a man who loves Jesus and His Church. Though it does not contain any biographical information on our current pope, it does give us a personal glimpse into his brilliant mind and loving heart. If you love Jesus and want to follow Him more closely, this book is for you.
    --Stuart Dunn
  6. On first perusal, I find the book is itself well written and well within the bounds of Catholic formational understanding. It is very much to those who understand the nuances, undoubtedly written by a member of the Order of St. Francis. Very straightforward in his approach to spirituality, The Pope states in a beautiful way his convictions on a life of discipleship; as opposed to a following of dogmatic teaching. There are many who wonder is this Pope different from others? I would say no. His love for the church and its doctrines and his personal devotions to Mary are definitely at the heart of his writings in Open Mind, Faithful Heart. For any who would enjoy a tool for invitation into reflection and prayer, Open Mind, Faithful Heart can serve as a great catalyst into a deeper spiritual prayer life rooted in Catholic and Franciscan theology. Far more gentler but no less mystical or revolutionary, these writings have at their heart compassion as their source and a social justice that brings back memories of the early days of Matthew Fox. Written with the somberness of Thomas Merton, these writings never lose the point of discipleship and what it means. A great read. Thank you again for considering my thoughts on this well written wonderful book.
    --Yoel b’nai Yehuda, Musician
  7. Open Mind, Faithful Heart: Mediations on Christian Discipleship is certainly not a book to read in one sitting, but not because of its density or difficulty. The language is accessible and the concepts are not hard to grasp, particularly for those familiar with the gospels.  Rather, the book is a series of invitations and challenges that are all too familiar on the surface. By now most people have read or heard some of the thinking of Pope Francis, and they will not be surprised by what they find here. Behind all the invitations to tenderness, compassion, and mercy, however, there are serious demands and even stern admonitions to “swim against the tide.” More than a work centering on a particular issue, the book is a collection of reflections given to different groups of people at retreats: laypeople, priests, deacons, and men and women religious. The four parts progressively open a pathway to prayer. The first focuses on the encounter with Jesus through the various dialogues offered in the gospels. The second part consists of “revelations” – small epiphanies in the lives and faith journeys that Christians experience in their discipleship. The third part speaks about the church in its daily and concrete life. Finally, the book ends in an intimate encounter of prayer, accompanied by biblical witnesses who went through all the same temptations that besiege people today. It is a call to faithfulness and a warning against the temptations that every Christian feels at one point or another: tiredness, jadedness, settling into a comfortable life, clinging to power. There is not, however, a different message for each group, but one and the same for all. The call is to joy, but to a deep joy that is rooted in the cost of discipleship. Pope Francis leads the reader into demanding proposition, and yet he manages to make them sound completely attainable.
    --Carmen Aguinaco, U. S. Catholic Magazine, Claritian Publications Review

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