Who is Fray Pepe, the hermit to whom Pope Francis has prefaced his book

Fray José Luis Guirado is Franciscan and lives in a hermitage lost in Tafí del Valle, in the distant Argentine Tucumán. But everyone knows him as “Fray Pepe”, although he must not be completely withdrawn when Pope Francis himself has prefaced his book From surrender to freedom, recently published by Editorial Gravitaciones.

In the prologue, the Holy Father describes the work that Fray Pepe carries out in a hermitage located within a field called Las Carreras, at 2,300 meters above sea level. Francisco also recounts the devotion with which this Franciscan carries a life consecrated to God in the simplest way, as the hermit himself admits: «I live in the middle of a small paradise, it is a place that I have longed for in my heart for many years and that today is a reality. Here the tip is felt and the cold in winter too ».

The simplicity of faith

Francis describes the first part of the simple book as “presenting the encounter with Jesus Christ as I find what makes me happy to every man or woman” and that faith fills life with joy, “not as a corny or superficial advertisement. It is not about religious cosmetics or ethical varnish.

“The experience of faith – the Pope continues – puts us in relationship with a experience of time as the presence of the Eternal in the historical present». and being a historical experience, “faith is liberating. He does not heal so that we feel good, but so that we follow him. Faith becomes alive and becomes a founding certainty, better in the vulnerable and needy, than in the ‘virtuous’ and ‘pure’”.

The entire second part invites us to deepen the experience of faith as a process of transformation to overcome the claim of “having arrived somewhere”, but also the “immobility of those who no longer walk, no longer move”, in the opinion of the Pope Francisco.

I felt that I was looking for and that I wanted something moreFray Jose Luis Guirado

The third part, recalls the Pope, is a necessary and suggestive itinerary in which one learns to move from sincerity to the truth, because “to be true is to go to the root of what we are and do…”. From truth to freedom, and from there to surrender “as the path of union with God to which we are called”.

‘From surrender to freedom’, by Fray José Luis Guiradogravitations

The hermit

Fray Pepe recounts that he went with his two brothers “to the Franciscan school of San Juan” and that “that soaked me in the spirituality of San Francisco de Asís” in a home where there was no religious life; Hence, the awakening “in the search for the Lord began in my adolescence, thanks to the Franciscan baggage I received from kindergarten,” says the Capuchin from Tucumán.

Giving up is the greatest miracle that can happen to usFray Jose Luis Guirado

The monk always felt a deep search tension that in his adolescence materialized in a question about faith: «I felt that I was looking for and that I wanted something more. And that framework occurred a couple of coexistence in my Franciscan school in San Juan where my heart trembled.

At the age of 24, he made his perpetual vows with the Franciscans and the desire appeared to retire near Tafí del Valle, in a prayerful and contemplative life, understood not as an escape, but “within the community to which I belong, which is Saint Francis Solano. Here I live providence, praying and sharing with the simplest people, in contact with nature»indicates the monk, who never feels alone: ​​«if there are not some brothers who accompany me, I have the birds of the valley».

“Abandonment,” Fray Pepe points out as a Christian synthesis, “is the greatest miracle that can happen to us. Giving up life is how we open up, how the path is revealed to us in all its simplicity. Our being accepts this purification when it understands that it is the Father who attracts us and shows us his mystery of love. It is not a question of praying, but of allowing ourselves to be made by God”, in an ever new experience of Christianity and of faith, which is the antithesis of voluntarism or the imposture of repeated good customs.

Who is Fray Pepe, the hermit to whom Pope Francis has prefaced his book