Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

4/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

"Let us ask the Lord for this 'parresia,'" said Pope Francis, "this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward!  Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, 'hierarchical and Catholic.'  So be it."  The Pope used the word parresia, a word most of us are probably not familiar with.  What exactly does it mean?

Highlights

By Andrew M. Greenwell, Esq.

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/25/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Pope Francis, parresia, Jesus, Church, boldness, Gospel, Andrew M. Greenwell


CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - In his short sermon on the Feast of St. George, Pope Francis spoke to the assembled Cardinals about the importance of the Church's mission of evangelization, a mission that includes introducing people to the Catholic Church "because it is not possible to find Jesus outside the Church."

This mission should be one of joy, as the "joy of the evangelizing" should fill those engaged in the mission of spreading the Good News of Jesus, and this irrespective of whether they are being persecuted or whether they see great success. 

To evangelize the world means to reject the "road of worldliness" and the temptation of "negotiating with the world," which provides only a "human consolation," a "superficial consolation."  Such worldliness is to be spurned by those engaged in the Church's mission of evangelization, who preach "between the Cross and the Resurrection," between prosecution and success.  "And this is the path: those who go down this road are not mistaken."

The early Church did not compromise the Gospel by preaching a "rosewater faith, a faith without substance," Pope Francis continued.  And, having rejected worldliness and become the "sheep of Jesus," the Good Shepherd, and being filled with the Holy Spirit, they were unafraid of the scandal that they might cause to the world to whom they preached the Gospel or the ire they might face from the worldly powers who set their aim against the Gospel. 

The early Church had a fervor, a boldness, a compelling need to introduce people to Jesus which Pope Francis said we moderns must recover. 

"Let us ask the Lord for this 'parresia,' this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward!  Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, 'hierarchical and Catholic.'  So be it."  Cosě sia

The Pope used the word parresia, a word most of us are probably not familiar with.  The word parresia (sometimes written parrhesia) is Greek word, and it is found in the Greek New Testament, so it might be appropriate word to focus on in our series on the three sacred languages, Tres Linguae Sacrae.

In Greek, the word parrēssía (παρρησία) is composed from two words: pas (πας) which means "all," and rēsis (ρησις) meaning "saying" or "speech."  The word therefore literally means "speech which says it all," and this suggests its ordinary meaning "to speak publicly," "to speak boldly," "to speak frankly," "to speak plainly," "to speak openly."

The word parresia comes from the privilege given the Greeks in their assemblies, courts, and theaters where they could speak boldly and criticize and challenge their opponents openly and frankly without fear of reprise.  The concept was that insulating the speaker from the fear of harm or retribution would encourage plain, honest, and forthright speech.

The word parresia or one of its forms is used in the Gospels (e.g., Mark 8:32, John 7:4, 13, 26; 10:24; 11:14, 54; 16:25, 29; 18:20), in Acts (2:29; 4:28, 31; 28:31), and in the letter to the Hebrews (3:6; 10:19, 35; 4:16), and in the Pauline (2 Cor. 3:12; 7:4, Eph. 3:12; 6:19; Phil. 1:20; Col. 2:15; 1 Tim. 3:13; Phil. 1:8) and Johannine epistles (1 John 2:28; 3:21; 4:17; 5:14).  It therefore has a good biblical pedigree.

A classical biblical use of the term parresia is found in the Book of Acts, where the apostles Peter and John are in Jerusalem during the Feast of Pentecost, when "suddenly there came from the sky a noise like a strong driving wind," and "there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each of them," and they were "filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different tongues."  (Acts 2:1-4)  It was the Holy Spirit that "enabled them to proclaim" the Gospel to the Jews "from every nation under the heaven staying in Jerusalem."  (Acts 2:5)

Peter stood up with the other eleven Apostles and preached his bold sermon to the Jews there assembled proclaiming to them the truth of the Lord Jesus whom they had had a part, directly or indirectly through their leaders, in crucifying, but who had emerged victorious from the grave in the Resurrection. 

By Peter's bold speech, inspired by the Holy Spirit and, as it were, elocuted by a tongue of fire, the Jews were "cut to the heart."  They were told to repent and be baptized "everyone one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  (Acts 2:37-38) 

The Apostles continued in the temple area daily, boldly preaching the Gospel around the very same precincts of power where Jesus had been unjustly arrested and put to death, adding "every day . . . to their number those who were being saved."  (Acts 2:47)

After St. Peter cured the man who had been lame from his mother's womb at the "Beautiful Gate" of the temple (Acts 3:2-10), he used the occasion for yet another proclamation of the Gospel.  (Acts 3:12-26)

This last straw drew the attention of the authorities, the powerful, and the religious establishment threatened by the apostolic preaching: the temple priests, including Annas the high priest, and the high priests Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, the captain of the temple guard, the Sadducees, and the "leaders, elders, and scribes."  (Acts 4:1-6)  These all were enemies of the Gospel.

St. Peter and St. John were apprehended, brought into the presence of the Jewish temple authorities and questioned.  Peter, "filled with the Holy Spirit," (Acts 4:8) boldly preached the Gospel to those who had conspired successfully to put Jesus to death.

The authorities "observing the boldness (parrēsían) of Peter and John," after meeting in counsel, "ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus."  (Acts 4:13, 18)

Not intending to be squelched by the authority of mere men when they had been called and sent by the Son of God himself, Saints Peter and Paul said in reply, "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.  It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20). 

Someone filled with parresia will find it impossible not to speak about his encounter with the Lord, and his mercy, and his grace.  His joy in boldly communicating the Gospel comes from the fulfillment of this duty which arises out of his love of God and his love of neighbor. 

Those filled with the parresia Pope Francis spoke of can only say: caritas Christi urget nos, the love of Christ, and the Christ eager to find a home with the poor and feed with supersubstantial food those hungry for the Gospel, compels us. (Cf. 2 Cor. 5:14)

In this, the Apostles Peter and John were no different than their Lord who, arrested by the temple guards and brought to the high priest to be questioned, responded to the high priest:  "I have spoken publicly (parrēsía) to the world. I have always taught in a synagogue or in the temple area where all the Jews gather, and in secret (kryptō) I have said nothing.'" (John 18:20)

He who is filled with parresia will proclaim the Gospel from the rooftops (cf. Matt. 10:27); he will not hide the message and place it under a bushel (cf. 5:15). 

He will have no fear of opposition.  He will bear all insults.  He will never lose heart.  This is what will steel him against his critics: In Deo laudavi verbum in Deo speravi non timebo quid faciat caro mihi.  "In God I will praise my words, in God I have put my trust: I will not fear what flesh can do against me." (Ps. 55:5 [56:4])

In his indefatigable efforts to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, St. Paul followed the boldness of the Lord and Sts. Peter and John.  It was his burden to discharge the "ministry of the Spirit,"and the "ministry of righteousness," (2 Cor. 3:8, 9), a ministry of such good news that--comparatively--the Mosaic Law was the "ministry of death," or the "ministry of condemnation" (2 Cor. 3:7, 9).

Moses, St. Paul says, spoke his words through a veil, cryptically, and so the hearts of those who lived by the Law were also veiled.  But that veil to God's revelation was removed by Christ who preached openly and publicly and without veil, and for those who are touched by the Gospel of freedom and turn to the Lord, "the veil is removed" (2 Cor. 3:16), rent in two by the Cross of the Lord Jesus (Matt. 27:51)

To remove the veil from God's revelation, to remove the veil from hearts, great boldness, vigor, and frankness was required.  So St. Paul tells the Corinthians, he was compelled to preached the Gospel with "great boldness (parrēsía)" in his speech. (2 Cor. 3:12) 

St. Paul himself had been blinded to the truth of the Gospel by the veil of the Mosaic law, and then was blinded from his blindness to Christ by the Christ who gives sight to the blind, and it was the word of the Lord that made him see again when something like scales fell from his eyes.  (Acts 9:18)  For scales to fall from the world's eyes, parresia in the communication of the Gospel is essential.  Otherwise, the blind will continue to lead the blind and the world will continue to fall in the pit and wallow in the sloughs of sin and despond.  (Cf. Matt. 15:13-14; Luke 6:39-40)

In a world which increasingly rejects the Gospel, diffidence is not an option.  Whether we be placed before the high priests of secularized culture, the scribes in the liberal media, the talking heads and commentators and comics who ridicule Christians of being drunk on the heady wine of passé mores, or the moral relativists who, desirous to excuse all manner of sin, uphold the nonsensical doctrine that there is no dogma but the dogma that there is no dogma: the Gospel must be made know with boldness, with parresia.

Yes, Pope Francis, your prayer is sound:  "Let us ask the Lord for this 'parresia,' this apostolic fervor that impels us to move forward, as brothers, all of us forward!  Forward, bringing the name of Jesus in the bosom of Holy Mother Church, and, as St. Ignatius said, 'hierarchical and Catholic.'  So be it."

So be it.  Cosě sia.  In other words, Amen.

-----

Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas.  He is married with three children.  He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum.  You can contact Andrew at agreenwell@harris-greenwell.com.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Living Faith

POPE FRANCIS ISSUES EXTRAORDINARY INDULGENCE - Here's how you and others can obtain it Watch

Image of Pope Francis has issued an extraordinary indulgence for all who seek to reconcile with God.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is issuing a Jubilee Indulgence that he hopes will allow people to experience God's mercy and grace. In preparation for the coming Jubilee, Pope Francis has published a letter to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, who heads his council for the promotion of the ... continue reading


Priest asks, what would St. Francis of Assisi do if he were alive today? Watch

Image of Although Pope Francis presided over the celebration, Fr. Cantalamessa (who has been preacher to the Papal Household since St. John Paul II appointed him in 1980) gave the homily.

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

On the first World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, the preacher to the papal household said that St. Francis of Assisi is a key model in showing the link between faith in God and care for our common home. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - Saint Francis "is ... continue reading


No school days for working children

Image of

By Tony Magliano

It's that time again when adults take off to celebrate Labor Day, and kids head back to the adventures a new school year. But for millions of children worldwide the adventures of a new school year remain but a dream. Sadly, these children will never learn to read or ... continue reading


Catholic lawmakers asked by Pope to rally for pro-life, immigrants and persecuted Christians Watch

Image of The Holy Father was presented with a document by lawmakers outlining their commitment to promoting life in their respective nations, especially in areas of abortion, Christian persecution, and migration.

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

On Sunday, Pope Francis urged Catholic legislators to be protectors of human life, calling them to "be strong" against a throwaway culture marked by Christian persecution, and the rejection of the unborn and migrants. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - The pontiff ... continue reading


Will Pope Francis' visit end in disaster? Residents say organizers don't have their act together Watch

Image of Mayor Nutter unveils the 'I'll Be There' campaign to encourage shop owners to stay open during the papal visit.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Philadelphia residents are stressing over the upcoming Papal visit, and for good reason. Preparations for the visit appear ad hoc and are being poorly communicated to the community, according to locals. LOA ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Pope Francis' visit to ... continue reading


Bishop Melki, executed after he refused to convert to Islam in 1915 has been beatified Watch

Image of Pope Francis earlier this month confirmed Bishop Melki's beatification saying he was killed in hatred.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Martyred during the Assyrian Genocide in 1915, Bishop Melki is on the road towards sainthood with his beatification this past weekend. Killed in Gazarta during the sayfo, or "putting to the sword" of Syrians in 1915, he was killed after he refused to convert to ... continue reading


For the first time we can see how BEAUTIFUL the 'real' Saint Rose was. Scientists have reconstruct her likeness Watch

Image of According to the news site Peru Catolico, the researchers said the reconstruction shows she was

By CNA/EWTN News

The face of the first saint of the New World may be better known than ever; thanks to a team of scientists, that has analyzed the skull of Saint Rose of Lima. Lima, Peru (CNA/EWTN News) - Scientists from the University of Saint Martin de Porres in Peru and the ... continue reading


Quest for God is modern world's biggest challenge, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI says Watch

Image of The Ratzinger Schuelerkreis will gather Sept. 28-30 to discuss the theme set them by their former professor.

By Andrea Gagliarducci, CNA/EWTN News

Benedict XVI considers the quest for God to be contemporary society's foremost challenge, according to one of the emeritus Pope's former students, who has organized the annual meeting of Ratzinger's students to discuss that very topic. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


Changing your HEART, not just behavior is a vital part of conversion process, Pope Francis says Watch

Image of

By Elise Harris, CNA/EWTN News

In his Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis said that merely obeying the rules isn't enough to make us holy, but that if we truly want to serve God our conversion has to be deeper, changing the heart. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's not exterior things which ... continue reading


Pilgrimage with Pope Francis - THIRD STATION - St. Joachim, patron of fathers

Image of St. Joachim, pray for us!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Welcome to the third station on our virtual pilgrimage to Philadelphia with Pope Francis ahead of the World Meeting of Families. Let us pray! About St. JoachimBy tradition Joachim and Anne are considered to be the names of the parents of Mary, the Mother of God. After ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Colossians 1:1-8
1 From Paul, by the will of God an apostle of Christ ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 4:38-44
38 Leaving the synagogue he went to Simon's house. ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for September 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Ingrid of Sweden
September 2: Born in Sknninge, Sweden, in the 13th century, St. Ingrid lived ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter