This week’s challenge: to live life in solidarity with others

It’s no secret that Pope Francis has been making headlines in both the Catholic and secular media with his comments that, in short, pithily and accessibly reiterate Gospel teaching.

But sometimes it’s only when reflecting on his words all together that one really begins to understand the emphases those words are meant to convey.

That’s what we tried to do in this week’s In Focus (Pages 9-12), which we coined “Pope Francis’ Guide to Avoiding a ‘Throwaway Culture.’”

Each sub-section in the four-page spread begins with a quote from the pontiff as he continues to regularly call us to live a life of solidarity with the world — including with creation, those less fortunate than ourselves and with each other.

Then, building upon Pope Francis’ quotes, writer Mary DeTurris Poust outlines what his words can mean for Catholics in their everyday lives.

Editor's preview of this week's issue

Poust also offers a list of five simple action steps that Catholics can take — from turning off the water when you brush your teeth to donating your time and talents to your parish — to better live out the pope’s call to be responsible stewards.

In conjunction with the In Focus, Our Sunday Visitor’s parish team created a pamphlet available for purchase to parishes on the same topic of Pope Francis and stewardship. Through these two offers, we hope to best supplement and support the pontiff’s calls for increased awareness and vigilance when it comes to avoiding a “throwaway culture.”

I’d also like to call your attention in particular to our Faith story this week (Pages 14-15). In it, Marge Fenelon writes about helping loved ones in times of crisis.

While it’s not the cheeriest of topics, we wanted to include this particular resource as a way of offering practical advice to those ministering to loved ones as they struggle with grief and as a way of reminding ourselves to not forget those who recently have experienced tragedy and for whom we have promised to pray. The people of Moore, Okla., and of West, Texas; those who died in the Bangladesh clothes factory collapse and in the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. The “Hotshot” firefighters in Arizona and those who died in the recent ferry accident in the Philippines.

This empathetic and prayerful concern for others walks hand in hand with the pope’s call for solidarity, fraternity and a culture of encounter. Several people interviewed for the Faith story comment that their lives had been changed by the small attentions given to them by others during a time of need. You never know what can happen when you open yourself up to being an instrument of God.

As summer winds to a close and the fall calendar fills with meetings, study groups and sports practices, I hope that the tools provided in this week’s issue help facilitate solidarity and stewardship in a way that would make Pope Francis proud. Let me know how it goes.