Today in Italy Little Brother of the Gospel Arturo Paoli died at the age of 102. He spent much of his life in Latin America, living among the poor.
Last year, he had a visit in the Vatican with Pope Francis, whom he probably knew when he was living in Buenos Aires.
His book Gather Together in My Name is a response to the concerns of Pedro, a twenty year old un-churched young man who lived with him in Venezuela. Responding to one of Pedro’s many questions, Little Brother Arturo wrote:
Well, we’ve discovered that Jesus is someone we can’t resist. The other day, Pedro, you exclaimed, “We ought to have another Saint Francis!” Well, who made Saint Francis? Don’t you think God could make another one today? Certainly today’s Saint Francis wouldn’t be the same, but there are three things necessary, urgently necessary, in the world today: poverty, identification with the people, and a deep conviction that Christ Jesus loves human beings and the world. These three things — the only things the world needs — can’t be taught in the “institutes” of Bogotá, Louvain, Rome, or Madrid. Teachers and students are just wasting their time and money. These things, Pedro, my friend, only Jesus can give you.
I can’t help but think that perhaps that is what Pope Francis is trying to teach us: how to be a poor church, how to identify with the poor, how to share with people the intense love of Jesus not only for all people but for all creation.
If we begin to live these three ideals, we may be closer to revealing in our lives glimpses of the Reign of God.
Arturo Paoli’s Gather Together in My Name was published in 1987 by Orbis Books. Regretfully, it’s out of print.
I also wrote a blog entry on Arturo Paoli with more quotes from his book here.
There is also an article on Arturo Paoli on Sojourners’ web site here.