Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fr. Perrone on Pope Francis...

Pope Francis embraces a severely disabled boy.
See interview with parents here.

Today is Divine Mercy Sunday and Assumption Grotto is celebrating with a repeat of the Orchestral Mass by Weber in the Noon time slot.  Those reading these pages, and the Grotto news or hearing announcements at Grotto, ought not be surprised to find the TLM at Noon today with choir and orchestra.  The Grotto Knights are making a pancake breakfast to boot!

In his column this week, Fr. Perrone is finally sharing some first thoughts on Pope Francis.  Here is what is in the Grotto News. The bulletin is only online for a few weeks which is why I'm copying his words here. I am adding extra line spaces to make it easier to read on screen.

Pope Francis has been going about doing some unusual and even provocative things from what I hear, I who am remotely connected–or should I say disconnected–from the news. He seems in all his ways to have surprised everyone such that no one knows just exactly how to interpret his actions. 
What occurred to me is that his doings are meant to be parabolic, reminiscent of the prophet Jeremiah, for example. God told him to do some rather bizarre things that would be a sign for the people, a divine message that needed decoding in order to grasp its meaning. These were usually some form of indictment merited by the waywardness of the people. Thus, for example, there were lessons to be gained from the loincloth and the shattered wine jugs (ch. 13) or the potter and the jug (18, 19) and yet others. Most of what the Pope has done in regard to the unexpected has to do with simplicity, poverty and charity towards those who may be easily shunned by society at large.  

The ‘liberal’ types rejoice in these acts, finding in them a justification for downsizing the papacy and the Church and, perhaps even, for diminishing the papal office itself. Those on the conservative side are dismayed if not horrified at what is deemed behavior unbecoming of the successor of Saint Peter.  

Having nothing to lose, I may be well throw in my own estimation of these gestures. The Holy Father is attempting to teach the Church, and to edify those outside her, that being a Christian in this present age necessitates a new appearance, especially in the light of large-scale dissent, the various forms of “scandal” (involving money and sexual misconduct), and the perception, however unfounded, that the Church is insensitive and uncaring for the poor, the divorced, the emotionally afflicted (read: “gay”)–to say nothing of her ‘backward’ stance in the forward march of medicine and science. The Holy Father is attempting to cut through such misunderstanding, even though they be malicious, to demonstrate once again the radical dimension of our Lord’ Gospel. He is, in effect, showing all of us to practice those precepts of the Sermon on the Mount which, when rehearsed rather than held to be lofty, optional ‘ideals,’ are both a powerful, convincing witness to the world of the truth of Christ and a sign of the validity of the Church.  

The Church, at any rate, does not need added weight to the sum of teaching documents, of which there is already a superfluity, those often unread and unappreciated arguments for the truth of the Church’s claims. Of course, the Church does need that teaching, and in very clear terms. But this is not winning the day in a time when people are little won over by the sheer force of truth (a true indictment of this sensually saturated generation).  

People need to see the faith in action. Faith without deeds is dead (James). I might add that it is particularly the clergy (priests and bishops) who need to be inspired by the example of the Pope to be selfless and unworldly, a message of Pope Francis’ that profits me in particular. Pope Benedict had a particular focus in his pontificate as an expositor of theological truth and a reformer of the liturgy. Pope Francis has apparently another charism or gift to give us, and we ought to be observant and docile to his example. So, if some things the Pope does confuses or even astonishes you, try nevertheless to glean from them the meaning he would impart to you by them.  

Imagine yourself to be like the people of Jeremiah’s time looking on with a mixture of amazement and puzzlement, but possibly failing to get the message. According to my reading, our Lord wants the people of the Church of today– beginning with the clergy–to be more radically Christian because only this will help heal a divided Church and bring about understanding and respect from those outside her fold. And, by all means, do not appoint yourselves as critics of the Pope for by so doing you may yourselves go far astray and miss the providential purpose of these strangely fascinating, if sometimes confusing, ways of Pope Francis.

 Fr. Perrone then had this to say about Divine Mercy Sunday and had some other notes:

This is Divine Mercy Sunday and you should know that, according to the private revelation that has garnered considerable ecclesiastical support, you can gain a full remission of the punishment due to your sins today by going to Con- fession and Communion and by saying before the tabernacle (or exposed Sacrament) the Our Father, the Creed, a prayer to the Divine Mercy of Jesus (many forms are possible), and by add- ing an Our Father and a Hail Mary for the Pope’s intentions. 
I see the virtual ‘page’ coming near its end and, before signing off, I want to express my deep gratitude for and pleas- ure in the celebration of the great Holy Week which included the happy addition of several new converts. 
Absolute finale: Today is Pancake Sunday in the gym. 
Monday this week is the transferred feast of the Annunciation (usually celebrated on March 25 but delayed this year due to Holy Week and the Easter Octave). 

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