Thursday, March 14, 2013

God Just Short-Circuited the Dissenting Wing of the Church with Pope Francis

When Pope Francis first stepped out on to the loggia and raised his hand, the silence was deafening. He looked down at the crowd without saying a word for about a full minute.  I sat stunned looking at him as he looked at me through that TV screen.  His expression in that long period of silence seemed to be saying, with profound humility, "I know you were expecting someone else, but all you get is me." Up in that balcony, this man who is now the most powerful man on earth in the Catholic Church, appeared to feel small.

I found endearing, the simplicity of his prayer for his predecessor, Benedict XVI - a simple Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be.  I have found other, past events online, where he invited people to pray likewise.

But at one point when he bowed so profoundly, I was stunned. I wasn't sure what was going on and I wasn't expecting that.  At first I thought he was asking the people to bless him based on what one translator said.  But, what he actually requested was for the people to pray that God blesses him. With that, he bowed.  I sensed profound humility and for all of us who sensed that, it was a sheer grace from God.

And now I would like to give the blessing. But first I want to ask you a favor. Before the Bishop blesses the people I ask that you would pray to the Lord to bless me – the prayer of the people for their Bishop. Let us say this prayer – your prayer for me – in silence. 

I wondered: Why this man?

What God doesn't will he permits, so this man was either willed or permitted to be elevated by God for a reason. He will reign for as long as God wants (John 19:10-11).  I began to search in my heart for an answer and by last night I had a theory.

Card. Bergoglio was rumored to be the runner-up in the 2005 Conclave just behind Card. Ratzinger.  Apparently, 2005 was not Bergoglio's time.  God had plans for him, obviously, but something else was needed first, so God gave us Benedict XVI.  Among the things he gave us, was a better understanding of Vatican II, and with that came a better understanding of the Mass, as originally intended by Vatican II. The full effects of these things will be seen in the coming years as seminarians become priests, and younger priests become pastors.   Benedict XVI helped us to ponder and explore the very nature of worship itself, giving back to us, the 1962 Missal so we could experience and relate to Catholic worship as it had been done for centuries.  The Pope Emeritus made us look closer at Jesus in his Jesus of Nazareth book series.  And, he gave us three important encyclicals, along with a mountain of spiritually and theologically deep material from his many homilies, audiences, apostolic letters, and books - all of which will likely catapult him some day to a status of doctor of the Church.

The professor-pope worked to help us to understand who we are as Catholics.  I believe Pope Francis will show us how to live what was taught.  Here we have a man who undoubtedly knows the poor and the marginalized in a very personal way.  Stories are coming out about how he washed the feet of Aids patients on a Holy Thursday.  Some might scoff at the idea because Holy Thursday is when the priesthood was instituted and Jesus washed the feet of not just disciples, but specifically and exclusively the apostles.  While I fall in the camp of those who hope bishops will return to washing the feet of priests and seminarians (especially given the way the priesthood has been wounded by scandal and misguided formation), I can look on with awe at this great act of love carried out with humility by then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio in 2001.  I keep studying the image and it does not end my tears.

Pope Benedict XVI taught us that God is Love; Pope Francis shows us how that is manifest.

Beyond that, why this man? For me, the answer is fairly simple.  I can't know what God's plans are, but it seems to me that God has short-circuited those who have hi-jacked social justice, which they use as a cloak for their dissent, by giving us a Pope who can't be charged with being "out of touch with reality."

This is a man with some serious episcopal back-bone when it comes to fighting abortion, contraception, euthanasia, same-sex "marriage" and liberation theology which was condemned in 1984. There is enough content online about those things to fill many posts, so search those items to see what he has done.

This pope will teach people that true social justice does not compromise Catholic teaching in other areas.  I hope he is successful and can reach more people with reason coupled by his example.

Joe Scheidler posted this in Facebook from the Pro-Life Action League

I would add that no child should be denied the right to know God, love him, and serve him. We are ensouled from conception and no child should be deprived of Baptism.

More to come

I have many other thoughts on specific topics from liturgy to Marian devotion. As I find time, I will write more posts, so check back.  I'm purposely keeping discussion of liturgy out for now, so please do not drop items on that in the comment box.

Parting shot

Cardinal Dolan said that Pope Francis was suppose to take his special car back after something, but he decided that, if he came on the bus with the other Cardinals, he's going back on the bus.  This story coincides with a photograph uploaded by someone on Facebook.  So, it's a little blurry because someone didn't wipe the finger prints from the phone camera, but you get the idea.

Last word: Pope Francis went to St. Mary Major to pay reverence to the Blessed Virgin Mary, then stopped to pay his hotel bill himself after picking up his luggage.  When asked how security is going to handle these kinds of things, Fr. Lombardi said“the security forces are at the service of the Pope, not the other way around.”

EDIT: Oh, wow.  Someone actually got a shot of the Pope checking out (and someone else had fun with the pic, which is flying through Facebook right now:

See my last post on Pope Francis, which contains FULL TEXT of his homily at the Mass closing the Conclave, and embedded video of that Mass.

FRIDAY NIGHT AT ASSUMPTION GROTTO: Talks on the Papacy resume during the Fish Fry.  See my post from last Friday with audio of Fr. Perrone discussing the theology of the Papacy. Tonight, Fr. John Bustamante will speak.  Talk begins at 6:00, but you really should get there at least 30-45 minutes early to get dinner.  Last time people were in line still getting fish as the talk was going on.  Did I mention the fish is really good?  Following the talk, there is Stations of the Cross at 7:00 PM, followed by a Traditional Latin Mass.

For interesting news items I don't have time to blog on, check out my Twitter Feed: @TeDeumBlog

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The obedient are not held captive by Holy Mother Church;
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