As part of an Ignatian Lay Volunteer Group, I have been reading Chris Lowney’s book, Pope Francis, Why He Leads the Way He Leads, an enlightening book on leadership. Lowney examines Pope Francis/Fr. Bergoglio’s values and leadership style in light of Ignatian Spirituality. Last night we finished the book and all of us in the circle spoke resoundingly of how beneficial the book was no matter whether we led in business, community, church, or family arenas.
For all of us, the final chapter held many gems but for me, the one that caught my heart was this quote: I will strive to be free: not rootless, but free from whatever fears, uncertainties, addictions, obsessions, or derailing baggage might deter me from choices that lead to what is good, beautiful, just, and true. I am preparing for an interview in front of an international conference in which I may be asked the question What message do you wish to leave for your loved ones? This resonated for me as an answer I am trying to articulate: Strive for freedom and try to move beyond your fears.
Most of us, myself included, let fear manipulate and paralyze us. John English, a Canadian Jesuit who pioneered in writing for and teaching lay people about the Spiritual Exercises, talks about this freedom too. As I face the end of my life, I look back and reflect that I have often said I have few regrets. I have tried not to live in fear for over a decade now and I have cleaned out lots of the emotional baggage that weighed me down. I had not been so much aware of the unconscious choice of leaning towards goodness, beauty, justice, and truth, although, clearly that has also been the equivalent work that I have done. I have grounded myself in my faith and rooted myself there.
In this way, I am helping to create a future of hope, one that overflows with goodness, joy, and peace. We build the future on solid rock and not on shifting sands when we keep our eyes on the Trinity and not on fear, which is the work of the Father of Lies. The Evil one would whisper incessantly about our inabilities, our self-doubt,and our compulsions, chipping away at the freedom we wish to have. Instead we must stand firm in the advice from Philippians 4:8: Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. Leave the dark, shaming murmurings to the Dark. Leaders stand on the solid ground of the Light.
What fears, uncertainties, addictions, obsessions, or derailing baggage deter you from choices that lead to what is good, beautiful, just, and true?
What message would you like to leave behind for your loved ones?
We are haunted by our fears, doubts, and compulsions, God. That is not how you created us. You made us in your likeness and desire us to ponder what is pure and holy, lovely and light, true and noble. Fill our hearts with these elements and cleanse our being of addictive obsessions and self-loathing. Help us to create futures of hope; allow us to be leaders of Light. Amen.