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Good Heavens! The Pope Here! Holy Thursday as Mission PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Wednesday, 27 March 2013 03:16

From the L'Osservatore Romano:

An extraordinary note about Pope Francis' upcoming Holy Thursday Mass with young inmates and a glimpse of European reality:

"He expressly asked us to make sure that there were no other young people here. He wants to be certain that they know he is coming solely for them, because he loves them, he carries them in his heart and considers them important, very important.”

The Pope's congregation? Only 8 of the young men and women are Italian. The rest are foreigners - most of them Muslims. Some have no religious belief at all. 

Many don't even know who the Pope is. Welcome to 21st century Rome.

“A young Neapolitan”, the chaplain confided, “who has been here for a while came to my help. He gathered them all together, to try to make them understand above all what the Pope's act, which is an act of love for them, actually meant. I was upset for a moment by the first looks, that were either blank or only faintly curious about my enthusiasm. Then our friend broke the silence with that most classic of Neapolitan expressions: “Maronna mia, o Papa accà!” [good heavens! The Pope here!] and he ran his hand through his hair, his face betraying emotions mingled with happiness. At that very instant all the others, seeing his amazement, realized that it must really be something very special and began to question me. Little by little, I saw their enthusiasm growing."

Stunning. Holy Thursday, not primarily as a liturgy for those already "inside" but reinvented as a missionary outreach to people, many of whom aren't even baptized, some of whom don't even know who the Pope is. Holy Thursday on the "peripheries". 

The theological and liturgical implications begin to flash through my mind but I know that I don't have enough background to evaluate all that.

All I can do is think of the last portion of then Cardinal Bergoglio's pre-Conclave speech that so impacted the Cardinal electors.

"Thinking of the next Pope, he must be a man that from the contemplation and adoration of Jesus Christ, helps the Church to come out to the existential peripheries, that helps her to be the fruitful mother who lives from the sweet and comforting joy of evangelizing."

This Pope really means it. This is so far beyond the ecclesial war categories that we were still embroiled in a mere two weeks ago. This is terra incognita.

A last, moving anecdote:

"A Caritas worker in the penal institute says that one of them, having heard the news, exclaimed: “At last I shall get to meet someone who says he is my father!”

A Shepherd seeking out those who are lost in the real 21st century Rome.


 
Pope Francis: Shattering the Categories PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Friday, 22 March 2013 11:07

The most wonderful thing that has happened in the 10 days of Pope Francis' pontificate as far as I'm concerned?

The sudden dislocation of the "Traditionalist"/"Neo-Catholic"/"progressive" ecclesial wars because the Holy Father's words and gestures has shattered the categories with which American Catholic insiders have been consumed for decades.

For which I give thanks to God on my knees. 


As Robert Moynihan puts it:

"Francis cannot be captured by these political categories.

He transcends them.

As Jesus transcended all categories, reaching out to sinners — and all are sinners — but also, asking them not to sin. Loving the sinner, but not the sin…

As Pope Benedict transcended all categories. Ceaselessly reminding all of us that our destiny transcends all worldly categories, that we are made for eternity, not just for time…

Perhaps it is time that we should all say that there are not “conservative” and “liberal” or even “traditional” and “orthodox” Catholics at all, just simply “Catholics” in a universal Church, stretching backward to the first days of the Church and forward to the end of the world in time, and global in space, unable to be described rightly by these secular categories.

So today, Pope Francis, powerfully, set his course, transcending the “left” and the “right” and pointing all of us toward higher things.

It was the first, great “programmatic” discourse of his pontificate.

His central thrust today was: (1) don’t try to confine me, or reduce me and my message, to worldly categories; and (2) don’t try to separate me from my predecessor, Benedict."

 


 
A LIttle Essay on Post Conclave Stress Disorder PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sherry   
Monday, 18 March 2013 11:11
A little essay on PCSD (Post Conclave Stress Disorder)

One of the things that genuinely shocked me after Pope John Paul II’s death, was the emergence of not just criticism for his decisions, but of out and out, open, explicit contempt for him, his “style”, his personality, his extroversion, etc. Since JP was the only Pope I’d ever known and I had identified with him, it really shook me up. Were all the expressions of respect and grief that attended his death just an elaborate show?

But over the past few years, I found myself thinking, I’ll bet the same phenomena is going to happen when Benedict dies and how will all the B16 fans deal with it? 

Of course, the internet has *greatly* exaggerated – made more in-your-face and immediate – this very human dynamic. Our access to social media has exaggerated our sense of identification with the personality, style, and decisions of a particular Pope and makes it so much easier to think of THIS particular man as the embodiment of our personal faith. I had a better view of Pope Benedict’s face as he left the Vatican for the last time – while seated at my desktop in Colorado Springs – than I could have had if I had been standing in Rome a mere 20 feet away! 

Despite everything, I keep hoping I’ll encounter a reservoir of genuine trust in the Holy Spirit and genuine docility to the person that the Cardinals elect but at a human level, when a particular human being has been our real center, it is very difficult to adapt.

That’s why I am finding Pope Francis’ reminder so helpful right now:

Christ is the Church’s Pastor, but his presence in history passes through the freedom of human beings; from their midst one is chosen to serve as his Vicar, the Successor of the Apostle Peter. Yet Christ remains the centre, not the Sucessor of Peter: Christ, Christ is the centre. Christ is the fundamental point of reference, the heart of the Church. Without him, Peter and the Church would not exist or have reason to exist.”

If I am first a “JPII” Catholic or a “B16" or a “F1” Catholic, I’ve already lost my moorings and I’m heading for a fall. If I am first a Traditionalist” or “progressive” Catholic, I’ve lost my moorings and I’m heading for a fall.

If I am FIRST and always one who is following Jesus Christ in the midst of his Church; if Jesus Christ truly is my center, my "Vine" – then the deepest, most profound root of all will anchor me as Popes – and the change that inevitably comes with each new pontiff – come and go.

 

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