Pope Francis to live simply and in community--he must be a Jesuit!
Pope Francis announced today that rather than moving into the Apostolic Palace, he will reside in a much simpler suite in the Vatican guesthouse which housed the cardinals during the recent conclave.
My immediate reaction to hearing this news was: How Jesuit of him! Not only is Francis remaining dedicated to living simply (it has been mentioned many times that while in Argentina, he chose not to live in the fancy bishop’s mansion available to him) but he also mentioned that his home in the guesthouse will allow him to “live in community with others.”
I couldn’t help but think of my own experience in a year of service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest. Among the key values to the program are simple living and community. Says the JVC website of community:
The process of building community offers an opportunity to share experience, spirituality and hope. Individuals come to JVC Northwest with diverse backgrounds and expectations. The challenge for each person is to respect and learn from these differences while building on common values. Community requires time, effort, and sacrifice, while giving back many wonderful, unexpected gifts. It provides an opportunity to create deeper relationships.
Living in an intentional community with five other volunteers was definitely one of the most simultaneously challenging and rewarding experiences I’ve ever had. I learned valuable lessons about communication, relationships, and my own ways of interacting with others. I was able to apply this education in community beyond just those I shared a house with and to my neighbors, the people I served, and the environment around me.
Francis likely won’t be living in an intentional community with the other residents of the guesthouse, but it is still important that he has recognized the benefit of exposure to other people, rather than shutting himself away in a grand palatial estate. Especially as the leader of a diverse church with different expectations for him, he hopefully sees this as an opportunity to create those deeper relationships and recognize the wonderful and unexpected gifts all people have to offer.