It is quite exciting to consider Pope Francis’ centering on the family now as the mainspring for a global revolution when you put it together with St. Josemaria Escriva’s central observation that there is a quid divinum to be found in the most ordinary circumstances and it is up to us to find it. That is, it is not a case of looking for a center of power to occupy in order to do great things for God and man, but rather to begin to make the gift of oneself in the daily grind in the unspectacular and humdrum of secular life.
Notice how this plays out in the thought of Pope Francis. On the occasion of the Jubilee of the year 2,000, he issued (as archbishop) “a rallying cry for Argentina “to recover ‘the adventure of anew nation’ and to be reborn in the promise of the pioneers who began our fatherland.’ That meant, he said, restoring social bonds and solidarity, and reaching out to the young, the jobless, the migrants and the elderly. He again pointed to the growth in community organizations as a sign of hope, and called on the politicians to ‘make the community the protagonist.’ But he presented the grim image – the prophetic, as it turned out - of a people profoundly disillusioned with their self-referential politicians, incapable of generating the solidarity needed for a functioning democracy.
In the interview with Anthony Spadaro S.J., Pope Francis offered the following profundity: “God manifests himself in historical revelation, in history. Time initiates processes, and space crystallizes them. God is in history, in the processes.
“We must not focus on occupying the spaces where power is exercised, but rather on starting long-run historical processes. We must initiate processes rather than occupy spaces. God manifests himself in time and is present in the processes of history. This gives priority to actions that give birth to new historical dynamics. And it requires patience, waiting.
“Finding God in all things is not an ‘empirical .’ When we desire to encounter God, we would like to verify him immediately by an empirical method. But you cannot meet God this way. God is found in the gentle breeze perceived by Elijah. The senses that find God are the ones St. Ignatius called spiritual senses. Ignatius asks us to open our spiritual sensitivity to encounter God beyond a purely empirical approach. A contemplative attitude is necessary: it is the feeling that you are moving along the good path of understanding and affection toward things and situations. Profound peace, spiritual consolation, love of God and love of all things in God—this is the sign that you are on this right path.”
The point being that the quid divinum is the family as the incubator and communion where human persons are generated, nourished and formed. When speaking of Argentina as country in the year 2000, he said that “We need to recognize, with humility, that the system has fallen into a borad umbral cone, into the shadow lands of distrust, in which many of the promises and statements sound like a funeral cortege. Everyone consoles the bereaved, but nobody resurrects the corpse. Get up! This is the call of Jesus in the Jubilee. Arise, Argentina! As the Holy Father (John Paul II) said to us on his last visit, and as our pioneers and foundrs dreamed. But until we face up to the duplibity of our motives there will be neither trust nor peace. Until we are converted, we will not know happiness and joy. Because unchecked ambiton, whether for power, money, or popularity, expresses only a great interior emptiness. And those who are empty do not generate peace, joy, and hope, only suspicion. They do not create bonds.”
Hence, just before the opening of the Synod, he referred to the family as “a new alliance of man and woman [that] becomes not only necessary but also strategic for the emancipation of people from the colonization of money. This alliance must return to orientate politics, the economy and civil coexistence! It decides the habitability of the earth, the transmission of the meaning of life, the bonds of memory and of hope. Of this alliance, the conjugal-family community of man and woman is the generative grammar, the “golden bond….” – the transformative power of the new civilization of love.