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Heart's ease - an infusion was said to help mend a broken heart

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

In praise of... handwritten notes (papal or otherwise)

There's something especially delicious about receiving a handwritten letter or note; something which makes it seem particularly special or personal. Amazingly, it's not so long since the handwritten was commonplace, and we would look at an envelope and instantly recognise the sender by the individuality of their writing, which had somehow become imprinted in our memories. Now, though, most of our communication is typed, and our phones, email and social media accounts announce who the sender is: the content of their message is still as highly individual as ever; it is still their "voice", but now it is conveyed in Arial or Helvetica, bland, commonly used fonts with none of the quirks, personality or near-illegibility of handwriting.

So a surprise handwritten message from Pope Francis, addressed to all at our General Chapter, feels doubly special!



The message was impromptu and unexpected, as our international website recounts: After this evening's Mass, our presider Tom McClain SJ surprised us with a message from Pope Francis... Pope Francis, who was at the Jesuit Generalate today for an advanced celebration of the feast of St Ignatius, wrote this message for us...

It may have been impromptu and spontaneous, but it was personalised. The pope clearly put some thought into it, deliberately picking up the theme of our Chapter, which is "Life Unfolding: Mission for the emerging future". Thus the short note, in Spanish, says, very simply and unpretentiously, but also aptly: Dear sisters, I accompany you all in this General Chapter. May God give you courage and patience to allow "life to unfold." And please, I ask that you pray for me. Affectionately, Francisco 24-7-2016

The note may have been addressed to those at the Chapter, but its underlying message is for all of us. May God give each of us the courage and patience we need, to allow life to unfold... our own life and the life around us. And may we all remember to pray for Pope Francis, that he too may have courage and patience, and whatever else he needs as he carries out the mission God has entrusted to him, and allows life to unfold for him and the Church.

And may our appreciation of this handwritten message also remind us all of the importance of the personal and the individual, maybe encouraging and spurring us to spend a few extra minutes sending some written enjoyment to someone dear to us. As the pope's note has shown, our letters don't need to be ornate, lengthy, beautifully laid out or paragons of perfection; it's enough for them to be personal, written from our hearts and in our own hand, however that may look...

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