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'


Copyright 2015 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for February 2016
Universal:
That prisoners, especially the young, may be able to rebuild lives of dignity.
Evangelization: That married people who are separated may find welcome and support in the Christian community.



Comments


More Living Faith

MAKE YOURSELF COUNT! Complete this quick Ash Wednesday survey

Image of Take the Ash Wednesday survey so we can better serve your needs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online is conducting a global survey on Ash Wednesday practices. Each reader is asked to participate once. The survey will take less than a minute to complete. The results of the survey will help Catholic Online determine how best to serve your needs in the ... continue reading


Santa Muerte gains popularity throughout Mexico - Will Pope Francis react during his visit? Watch

Image of Santa Muerte's popularity has spread throughout South America (Pinterest).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Despite the Catholic Church openly saying Santa Muerte is not recognized as a saint, the death saint continues to spread in popularity among Mexican citizens. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Santa Muerte is an absurdity," Cardinal Norberto Rivera, Mexico's ... continue reading


Bible-themed luxury resort to be built in San Diego? Watch

Image of Televangelist seeks to build Bible-themed resort (YouTube).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Televangelist Morris Cerullo has been attempting to build a Bible-themed luxury resort for the past few years - and now there is only one more hurdle to jump. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - After purchasing a foreclosed Mission Valley hotel, Cerullo's plans for ... continue reading


What the Catholic Church should do about this new serious problem among the young Watch

Image of Deacon Flanigan confirmed that the recent surge in overdoses among young whites have been linked to controversial medical guidelines that called for a more aggressive approach to treating both acute and chronic pain.

By Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register

When recent headlines marked a spike in drug overdoses for white, middle-class Americans, the news saddened but did not surprise Deacon Timothy Flanigan, an HIV specialist at Brown University medical school in Providence, R.I. Providence, R.I. (National ... continue reading


Pope Francis gives priests advice on being good confessors Watch

Image of

By CNA/EWTN News

Priests who are good confessors must recognize their own sins in order to forgive and comfort penitents, Pope Francis said one day before the start of the Lenten season. Vatican City (CNA/EWTN News) - "I speak to you as a brother, and through you I would like to ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE: Ash Wednesday (FULL TEXT: English) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis, Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and good path of Lent!It is beautiful and also significant to have this hearing at this Ash Wednesday. We begin the journey of Lent, and we are reflecting today on the ancient institution of the "jubilee"; It is an ancient thing, ... continue reading


Pope Francis' message for Lent (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of

By Pope Franics, Vatican Radio

"I desire mercy, and not sacrifice" (Mt 9:13).The works of mercy on the road of the Jubilee 1. Mary, the image of a Church which evangelizes because she is evangelizedIn the Bull of Indiction of the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy, I asked that "the season of Lent in ... continue reading


'There is nowhere else for us to go': Nuns who feed homeless face eviction after rent nearly doubles Watch

Image of Nuns who feed homeless were told to pay or leave (AP).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

The cost of living in San Francisco has skyrocketed to the point that and new reports indicate Bay Area housing has reached such heights that the area's average income can no longer support it. Unfortunately, this means everyone is downsizing or moving - including ... continue reading


The 'Martyred Country': Pope Francis' powerful words on Syria Watch

Image of Pope Francis led the crowds in praying the Hail Mary

By Ann Schneible, CNA/EWTN News

The plight of Syrian civilians involved in the nation's ongoing conflict was at the heart of Pope Francis' appeal to the international community on Sunday, in an address where he also called for a renewed commitment to the protection of life at all stages. ... continue reading


POPE FRANCIS ANGELUS: February 7, 2016 (FULL TEXT: ENGLISH) Watch

Image of

By Pope Francis

Dear brothers and sisters, Goodmorning!The Gospel of this Sunday says - in the drafting of St. Luke - the call of the first disciples of Jesus ( Lk 5,1-11). The fact takes place in a context of everyday life: there are some fishermen on the shore of Lake Galilee, who, ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • St. Paschal: Saint of the Day for Thursday, February 11, 2016
  • Take this thought provoking Stations of the Cross survey
  • Is Valentine's Day...? (Take the quick survey!)
  • Daily Readings for Thursday, February 11, 2016
  • Can you answer these four challenging questions about Lent?
  • Stations of the Cross - Fourth Station: Jesus meets his mother HD Video
  • Palm Sunday HD Video

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Joel 2:12-18
12 'But now -- declares Yahweh- come back to me with all your heart, ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 51:3-4, 5-6, 12-13, 14, 17
3 For I am well aware of my offences, my sin is constantly in ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18
1 'Be careful not to parade your uprightness in public to attract ... Read More

Reading 2, Second Corinthians 5:20--6:2
20 So we are ambassadors for Christ; it is as though God were urging you ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for February 10th, 2016 Image

St. Scholastica
February 10: St. Scholastica, sister of St. Benedict, ... Read More