We must trust the Holy Spirit, and preach the whole Gospel

Most Rev. Micheal F. Olson

10/20/2014

Trust the Holy Spirit, be yourselves, and resist the temptation to change your people — but accompany them on the way of conversion.” These are the words that I most remember as being spoken by Pope Francis to me and to 139 other bishops ordained and installed during this past year. My recent time spent in Rome took on more of the character of a retreat with fellow bishops than that of a vacation. The nine days included lectures, time for prayer together, Mass concelebrated at the tomb of St. Peter, and the audience with Pope Francis.

The opportunity to be received by the Holy Father with bishops from all over the world whom I had recently gotten to know on this retreat, offered me the experience that it is indeed a “small world” but an even smaller Church. It was truly joyful for me to listen to and share stories with bishops who are adjusting to the change in ministry that each of us are experiencing. Each of us carried the people of our respective dioceses with us in our prayers, thoughts, and intentions.

The substance of these words of encouragement and guidance directed to us by Pope Francis were very much reflected in the character of the Pope as he spent time with each of us. “Trust the Holy Spirit.” The Holy Father is very much a man who trusts the Holy Spirit in all that he says and does in service to the entire Church. This is especially seen in his beautiful gift of joy that he shared with me and with my brother bishops as he took time to receive each of the 140 of us present for this audience.

“Be yourselves.” There is a confidence about the Pope that is marked by the direct honesty of an authentically humble man. He is a man who is very much himself — the confidently loved disciple of Jesus. When I spoke directly with the Pope, I shared with him that all of the people of the Diocese of Fort Worth — Catholics, Protestants, Jews, people of all faiths, and even people of no religious faith — love him and pray for him. He smiled and asked me to convey his thanks to them and the promise of his prayers.

“Accompany the people on the way of conversion.” I asked the Holy Father to please pray for vocations to the priesthood and religious life in the Fort Worth Diocese. He smiled and promised that he would do so and then he added — “Trust the Holy Spirit and preach the Gospel, the WHOLE Gospel — and the vocations will come.” So as I carried each and all of you in my prayers on my pilgrimage to the Holy See, I carry this message back to you from our Holy Father. Let’s accompany each other on this way of conversion and resist the temptation to preach anything less than the entire Gospel that we have received from Christ that many will be able to hear Him call them each by name.

 

Trust the Holy Spirit, be yourselves, and resist the temptation to change your people — but accompany them on the way of conversion.” These are the words that I most remember as being spoken by Pope Francis to me and to 139 other bishops ordained and installed during this past year. My recent time spent in Rome took on more of the character of a retreat with fellow bishops than that of a vacation. The nine days included lectures, time for prayer together, Mass concelebrated at the tomb of St. Peter, and the audience with Pope Francis.

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