The Key to Pope Francis

The Holy Father continues to speak with a sharp sense of urgency:

“Yes, you have to come to know Jesus in the Catechism – but it is not enough to know Him with the mind: it is a step. However, it is necessary to get to know Jesus in dialogue with Him, talking with Him in prayer, kneeling. If you do not pray, if you do not talk with Jesus, you do not know Him. You know things about Jesus, but you do not go with that knowledge, which He gives your heart in prayer. Know Jesus with the mind – the study of the Catechism: know Jesus with the heart – in prayer, in dialogue with Him. This helps us a good bit, but it is not enough. There is a third way to know Jesus: it is by following Him. Go with Him, walk with Him.”

It is necessary, “to go, to walk along the streets, journeying.” It is necessary, said Pope Francis, “to know Jesus in the language of action.” Here, then, is how you can really know Jesus: with these “three languages ​​- of the mind, heart and action.” If, then, “I know Jesus in these ways,” he said in conclusion, “I involve myself with Him”​​:

“One cannot know Jesus without getting oneself involved with Him, without betting your life [on] Him. When so many people – including us – pose this question: ‘But, who is He?’, The Word of God responds, ‘You want to know who He is? Read what the Church tells you about Him, talk to Him in prayer and walk the street with him. Thus, will you know who this man is.’ This is the way! Everyone must make his choice.”

This reminds me of what are purported to be Chesterton’s last words:

Within the Spadaro Interview, one comment of Francis’ hasn’t been given much attention, but it is important. It is part of the key to the man and all that motivates him:

“I pray the breviary every morning. I like to pray with the psalms. Then, later, I celebrate Mass. I pray the Rosary. What I really prefer is adoration in the evening, even when I get distracted and think of other things, or even fall asleep praying. In the evening then, between seven and eight o’clock, I stay in front of the Blessed Sacrament for an hour in adoration. But I pray mentally even when I am waiting at the dentist or at other times of the day.

The prayer is the key. Without it, we can know the Catechism back and forth, and we can seek to serve others and look for Christ in each other, but the root of all of that — the root that feeds our understanding of the books and helps us to see Christ in others, and to recognize the promptings of the Holy Spirit — is prayer. Daily prayer is what nourishes all of the rest: feeds it, supports it, connects it, grounds it, as Mary grounded Martha.

If you find yourself an admirer of Francis who doesn’t know what to do about it, start with prayer.

And if you’re tepid about Francis — if he scares you a bit, and you’re not sure what he is about — start with prayer, too.

All prayer is good; like Francis, I love the Divine Office — I love praying with and through the psalms. If you’re not sure how to do that, you can learn here, or check out Daria Sockey’s excellent The Everyday Catholic’s Guide to the Liturgy of the Hours

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Lee Johnson

    This is mysticism.

  • Gordis85

    Thank you again and again and again, Elizabeth for your support and love of Papa Francis. After reading so much negative responses from fellow Catholics, I am encouraged by your positive ones. I will heed what Papa Francis is calling us to. A conversion of heart, mind and spirit. I want to love and follow Jesus too…with all that I have…then, and only then, can I truly love my neighbor and myself.

    God bless you and hope you are feeling better.

  • MikeL

    My problem with Pope Francis’s off-the-cuff style is that it leaves me a baffled and uncertain Catholic. Certainly I could do much better in my prayer life; I’m not as familiar with the Catechism as I should be; as a lay member of the faith, I could do more to engage with the street and be more active. This are failings I acknowledge and challenges to live up to.

    Still, there are others who’ve chosen a different path, one which has been revered since early Christian times, and it is one devoted to contemplation and prayer with little or no engagement with the world (St. Anthony of the Desert, St. Benedict, St. Therese of Lisieu, for example). It appears, on the surface at least, that the Pope is dismissive of such a life; it certainly is different from the zealous encounter with the world that, for good or ill, has characterized Jesuits since the time of Ignatius.

    I’m certain there will be clarifications in the days ahead, as there have been for many of his sermons, but quite frankly I feel disoriented and confused in a way I never did with JP II or Benedict XVI. Guess it’s time for longer, deeper prayers, eh?

  • Frank

    Now that’s something I needed to hear. Thank you.

  • Caspar

    If I may, a few excellent basic guides to prayer:

    –Fr. Thomas Dubay, Prayer Primer
    –Peter Kreeft, Prayer for Beginners
    –Mark Shea, The Heart of Catholic Prayer: Rediscovering the Our Father and the Hail Mary

    For an overview of the life of prayer/interior life/spiritual life/life in the Spirit:

    –Ralph Martin, The Fulfillment of All Desire
    –ed. by Mike Aquilina and David Scott, Weapons of the Spirit: Selected Writings of Father John Hugo
    –Fr. Thomas Dubay, Deep Conversion/Deep Prayer
    –Fr. Robert Barron, The Strangest Way: Walking the Christian Path
    –Dan Burke, Navigating the Interior Life: Spiritual Direction and the Journey to God
    –Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, The Three Conversions in the Spiritual Life

    For in-depth explorations of Christian prayer:

    –Father Thomas Dubay, Fire Within
    –Fr. Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, OP, The Three Ages of the Interior Life (2 Volume Set)

  • leelu

    I’m downloading “Laudate” from Google Play – it supposedly had everything a Catholic needs to know (my paraphrase}, including the Divine Office. I’ll let you know about it once I get a chance to play with it.

    Lee – you’re right, but is that a good thing or a bad thing??

  • Augustine

    The breviary can be pretty daunting to those beginning, especially using the books. But, thanks to technology, this hurdle is removed.

    I cannot recommend iBreviary enough, both on the web at and on your phone for free.

  • Augustine

    Laudate does not provide the official Liturgy of the Hours. While it’s fine to pray the version the provide, the Divine Office, as the prayer of the Church, is better prayed if the same as thousands of priests and religious around the world.

  • MeanLizzie

    I’ve never found it daunting but makes it easy as pie, and has a recording you can pray along with, although some of the readers distract me.

  • Augustine

    I haven’t either, but I’ve seen many people give up the Office after getting the ribbons tangled.

    I dislike Its division of strophes is not the official one, which was designed for Gregorian chant, among other small liberties they take with the liturgical text which, as liturgy, shouldn’t be messed with.

  • Gordis85

    Yep…time for not just you but for all of us. Prayer for our suffering brothers and sisters in Syria, Egypt and in Africa…now, I hear that in Laos, they are enforcing Christians who do not renounce their Christian faith, to leave their villages.

    Let’s add them to our list and beg our Lord Jesus and the precious Virgin Mary to come to their aid as well.

  • Maggie Goff

    I highly recommend the iBreviary app. It has everything that you need including Liturgy of the Hours and it’s free. Developed by a priest for priests, but terrific for lay people, too. If you ever get the message “confirm downloading data?” just click “no.”

  • Maggie Goff

    I didn’t see this and just posted the same thing. I use it all the time now. I also like the Prayers section. Actually, I like everything on there.

  • Maggie Goff

    I paid full price for it, but had to give up using it. They sometimes used “inclusive” language, and more than occasionally the readers were overly dramatic, and very distracting.

  • kmk1916

    “They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?”
    –John 24:32

  • leelu

    Well, thanks for you permission! I’m looking at it as a meditative practice (which really is inseperable from prayer), and I’m not a practicing Catholic.

    Who are you to say something like “better prayed”?

  • leelu

    Is this available for Android phones??

  • MeanLizzie

    yeah, there is one woman reader who just really overdoes it. I don’t often listen to the audio, myself, b/c of it. But I like the b/c it is an accurate reflection of the four volume breviary.

  • MeanLizzie

    He’s not being snotty, Leelu, he’s just saying that if you’re going to pray the Offices, why not pray the one which joins your prayers to the hundreds of thousands also praying it. Btw, you do not have to be Catholic to pray the Hours. I know Lutherans, Presbyterians, and one Baptist, who all pray them.

  • bethdonovan

    Thanks, Maggie. I’ll going to download it to my iPod Touch. I already have Laudate and a Rosary app that I like a lot. I listen and pray when I’m feeding the animals and doing my chores. I’m getting a much better attitude about some chores from praying the Rosary.

  • leelu

    Sorry to both, then. Hard for me to tell for me sometimes. The answer to your question is that i want to try it out for a bit. I know that Universalis has a free home trial, but right now $$ is tight, so free is good.

    I understand the point of being in harmony w/ everyone who is praying it, but for right now I think that intention must trump form. Plus, I want to see if I can get myself habitualized to doing it!

  • MeanLizzie

    The ibreviary app is also free, and I think I like it better than the laudate and universalis. It’s pretty on the eyes, and offers a lot. You can try them all — see what suits you best.

  • Augustine

    Give iBreviary above a try. It has free Android and iOS apps as well as the offices on the website.

    Pax Christi

  • leelu

    I shall give it a try. I hesitated before, because the sample images in the Google Play store were all in Italian(!). (Yes, I can be VERY literal-minded…) It’s downloading as we speak.

  • Augustine

    If you’d like to chant the office but, like me, is ignorant about music, check out the Conception Abbey psalm tones at They are simpler versions of Gregorian chant modes and I sound pretty good… in my head.

    What I like about chanting the office is that it’s a way to gift the Lord, Who is Beauty Himself, with a little beauty.

  • Stefanie

    A wonderful reminder, Elizabeth! I had contact with a Coptic Orthodox woman from Cairo who contacted me three years ago because she wanted to become Roman Catholic via internet lessons. Ever since, I have been praying for our Christians who are taking great risks to remain in their homeland. I have especially been praying for Father Michael who was kidnapped at Aleppo, Syria in early February…and for the kidnapped bishops who it seems were negotiating for his release.
    Re: the breviary, I began with and then just wanted to be silent rather than hear the reading voice, so I found a discarded LatinEnglish breviary and began using it — within a year, I was fairly adept at the ribbons and finding my way around it. After two years, I went online and bought Volumes 1 and 2 on ebay, so my 1962 Latin/English breviary is complete. The notes throughout are from Father Pius Parsch who puts the psalms in perspective. Regarding praying unified, Father Z suggests that we spend an hour praying with Papa Francisco in accordance with Papa’s Holy Hour before the Eucharist. For us west coasters, that is 10 a.m.

  • Pnkn

    You cannot get to know Jesus in peace and quiet, nor even in the library: Know Jesus.”

    Text from page
    of the Vatican Radio website

    It gets confusing when in one homily we hear that you cannot get to know Jesus in peace and quiet (and what is the message to those who are cloistered ?) and in the same breath are told prayer is the foundation for knowing Jesus.

  • DeirdreMundy

    So…. he wants us to know, love, and serve God? Reactionary! He’s taking us back to the Baltimore Catechism! ;)