Theology professor compares St. Francis and Pope Francis

Dr. Schreck
Dr. Schreck
Photo by Carl Colombo Dr. Alan Schreck talks about the prayer, poverty and joy of St. Francis and Pope Francis on Thursday, Oct. 2.

BY JOSEPH HINSHAW
Staff Writer

Alan Schreck, professor of theology, described the parallels between Pope Francis and St. Francis of Assisi, using their love, lifestyle and faith as evidence at his talk in the Gallery on Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

Schreck began by stating two similarities that quickly came to his mind when discussing St. Francis and Pope Francis. The first similarity was that both St. Francis and Pope Francis had a great sense of closeness to God. The second similarity between them is that they both have the ability to hear Jesus speak to them in the gospels in a very direct way.

“They respond directly and literally to the words of Jesus in the Gospel and they invite us, maybe by their example, to do the same,” said Schreck.

In his talk, Schreck delved into the connection of the two men whom he considers to have strong virtues of prayer, poverty and joy. He regarded St. Francis as being responsible for writing many prayers that have come to be known as “rules”, and went into how Pope Francis can serve as a model of prayer for Catholics. Pope Francis himself stated, “Pray for me” upon his election.

In regard to poverty, Schreck then explained how the basis of St. Francis’ rule is, “sell everything you have and follow me,” and how he lived this out in a literal way through giving away all of his money and living life as a beggar.

Pope Francis was told by a Cardinal sitting near him during the election, “don’t forget the poor,” and immediately thought of St. Francis and his love of the poor.

Further showing the similar focus on poverty between the two men, Schreck mentioned Pope Francis’ desire for a church of the poor that is for the poor.

St. Francis once stated that perfect joy is enduring many sufferings while remaining patient and joyful in the knowledge that we are sharing in Christ’s suffering. However, Pope Francis said that in moments of distress, we oftentimes prefer to complain rather than be joyful.

Drawing a connection to St. Francis’ lifestyle as well as the similar view of poverty between the two men, Schreck told listeners that Pope Francis once gave the view that the greatest obstacle of joy for man is consumerism. According to Pope Francis, joy is necessary to evangelize and joy also comes from evangelizing.

Talking about the final chapter of his book, Dr. Schreck referred to St. Francis as “The Profound Un-theologian”. St. Francis never received any formal theological education, and never performed any serious theological studies himself.

“Francis of Assisi exhibits the most profound understanding of the most essential elements of faith,” said Schreck, stating that he believes this is the most remarkable aspect of St. Francis.

“I really enjoyed how Dr. Schreck explained how St. Francis was the Profound Un-theologian, even though he was such a simple man,” said freshman Isaac Sanford, reflecting on the most personally impacting moment of the talk for him.

Maria Powell, a freshman, enjoyed learning about the many similarities between the two men.

She said, “Being able to compare and contrast the amazing qualities of two phenomenal people was eye-opening and was a great way for me to want to dive into my faith more and learn about them.”

The talk lasted for about an hour, and it had a particularly strong impact on Chris Finnochio, also a freshman.

He said, “Seeing how our Holy Father looks to imitate such a humble servant of God makes me proud to attend a university that seeks to follow Francis’ role and instills in me the desire to pursue such a devout life as well.”

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