It is becoming increasingly clear that our Pope Francis is a pope who, as Stephen White put it, smells like his sheep. He is a man of his people, and a father who communicates to his people in a fashion that they seem to like.
More evidence of this is a means to prayer that the Holy Father authored when he was still the Archbishop in Argentina. It is a lovely way to pray, and it showcases Pope Francis’ sense of simplicity, his priority for family, his love for the poor and also his recognition that prayer is powerful.
Readers may already know the prayer. It has been around for a while, but several sources are saying that it was written by Cardinal Bergoglio. I should note as well that it was attributed to him well before he became Pope Francis.
So here it is: Pope Francis’ five finger prayer guide. (Go here for the Spanish)
1. The thumb is the closest finger to you. So start praying for those who are closest to you. They are the persons easiest to remember. To pray for our dear ones is a “sweet obligation.”
2. The next finger is the index. Pray for those who teach you, instruct you and heal you. They need the support and wisdom to show direction to others. Always keep them in your prayers.
3. The following finger is the tallest. It reminds us of our leaders, the governors and those who have authority. They need God’s guidance.
4. The fourth finger is the ring finger. Even that it may surprise you, it is our weakest finger. It should remind us to pray for the weakest, the sick or those plagued by problems. They need your prayers.
5. And finally we have our smallest finger, the smallest of all. Your pinkie should remind you to pray for yourself. When you are done praying for the other four groups, you will be able to see your own needs but in the proper perspective, and also you will be able to pray for your own needs in a better way.
This is a simple way to prayer that even kids can get. And it gives a whole new meaning to giving our political leaders your middle finger. (Sorry…couldn’t resist.) But it is eminently practical, and it is certainly grounded in the Catholic tradition. Indeed, what I like most about it is the end. By praying for others we can begin to see our own needs in greater perspective. It is an important lesson, one that pops up in Catholic Social Teaching quite often.
We read this in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church for instance,
“390. …The sphere of friendship, on the other hand, is that selflessness, detachment from material goods, giving freely and inner acceptance of the needs of others. Civil friendship understood in this way is the most genuine actualization of the principle of fraternity, which is inseparable from that of freedom and equality. In large part, this principle has not been put into practice in the concrete circumstances of modern political society, above all because of the influence of individualistic and collectivistic ideologies.”
The just society starts with a focus on the needs of others. Thanks Papa Francis.