Pope Francis has taken the Church and the world by storm, but a storm that has lead to new growth, new ideas and new methods while maintaining strong roots to tradition, ritual and Church teaching. What is it about Pope Francis that is so revolutionary and at the same time so familiar? That is what Rosario Carello’s Pope Francis Takes the Bus is all about.
Pope Francis Takes the Bus contains 80 stories (don’t be intimidated by the number, most are less than 2 pages) about Jorge Bergoglio, or as we know him today, Pope Francis. These stories range from his boyhood connection to his grandmother’s faith, his discernment of the priesthood, cooking Sunday dinners for the students at Maximo College, to his visits to the Villas Miserias, the worst shantytown in Buenos Aires through today as pope. Carello has spoken to many who knew Bergoglio throughout his life, using their stories to paint a fuller portrait of Pope Francis than simply the pope from Argentina.
The life of Pope Francis to date has been eventful, full of stories that made me smile as well as cry. The people he has served love him. The people he has stood up for embrace him as their own. The witness to the Gospel he has set throughout his priesthood has been uncompromising. When Bergoglio was made Archbishop of Buenos Aires he chose to remain living in a small home in the city rather than move into the traditional palace reserved for the archbishop. Sound familiar?
The things we may see as “revolutionary” or “novel” are actually a continuation of a long life of “revolutionary” or “novel” actions. Pope Francis’ witness to the Gospel is as uncompromising today as it was when, as archbishop, he insisted on riding the bus to get to an appointment rather than be driven by parishioners. After getting on the bus to be on his way the parish priest and deacon offer these explanations to the crowd gathered:
“He goes as he came, on public transport.”
The deacon adds: “Fr. Bergoglio is like that; he speaks by giving example.”
This, my friends, is a book that is perfect for anytime and anyplace. The stories are short, simple and thought provoking, and let’s face it, the cover is awesome! They are perfect to read one or two over your morning coffee, during a quick break at work or before bed. If you have older children, they would be an excellent way to spark conversation around the dinner table about topics like humility, living simply, poverty, confession and joy. Every family can use this book over and over again. For myself, don’t be surprised if more than one person receives this as a Christmas present this year.