Tag Archives: Pope

Duc in Altum

I am getting tired of this never-ending job search. I am also getting tired of constantly feeling judged that I do not have a better job. Many people often think it should be easy for me to get a better job or even a career. I try not to let those judgements get to me but it is difficult when I am so eager to get one myself. My mother was kind enough to point out that people do not understand the entire situation and truly it is none of their business. The fact of the matter is I moved to New York almost a year ago not for a job or a career. I moved simply because God told me to with the promise that He would take care of me and He has kept His promise. More important than a career, He has revealed Himself to me and I have grown closer to Him then I ever thought possible. The Gospel today was all about Peter letting Jesus into his boat.

“Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.”

Simon said in reply,

“Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing,
but at your command I will lower the nets.” (Luke 5 1-11)

Peter had such faith in Jesus that he listened and obeyed whatever Jesus asked of him, and as a result he not only got a bounty of fish but he became a “fisher of men” and essentially the first Pope. After reading the Gospel, I am left with the question: will I cooperate with Jesus when He gets into my boat? Once Jesus gets into your boat, He will lead you into the depths. “Duc in altum,” as Saint John Paul II said. It will be dangerous but it will be exciting.

If I am honest with myself, my job has been a true “thorn in my side” but Jesus wants me there because it is a crucial part of my journey. It has nothing to do with the actual job; it has everything to do with the people I interact with and the influence we have on one another. Yesterday a regular customer came up to me and said to me, “I love seeing you here, your aura is always glowing. Did you know that?” I was taken off-guard by this comment, especially since I felt like my aura was close to extinguishing at that moment. She opened up to me about how she had been struggling with some health issues and over the past week she had been starting to decrease her medications. She was clearly in a better state of being, she had never talked to me this much before. She said it was a true miracle, she had been plagued by these side effects of all these medications for years and within only a week she is already seeing a difference. She admitted to me that she does not tell many people about her medical history but she felt comfortable with me and knew I would understand her situation. I felt truly honored and humbled that she opened up to me. Just through that one conversation it is clear why the Lord placed me there at that time. The impact that I had on that woman is more valuable than any career or job that I have been wishing that I could have during this time in New York.

While these interactions are wonderful and inspiring, I still leave my job longing for more. I do desire to be more financially independent and have more freedom. My life is dependent on that paycheck and I don’t like living like that. God always provides but sometimes I wish He would let me provide a little for myself. Of course, Jesus has a beautiful sense of humor and has a way of readjusting my perspective. One day while I was on my break at work, I was sitting in the break room and it was around the time all the mid-shift workers were going home. One coworker came down ranting about wanting to be rich. “When you are rich you can do whatever you want.” It is common knowledge that he has a difficult life, he is on the spectrum and the only reason he still has his job at the store is out of pity. I have had an up and down relationship with this coworker but recently I mostly just feel great sadness for him because there is so much he doesn’t understand. He truly believes that all the “great” people were rich. He ended his rant with, “No one who is is poor ever made anything of themselves.” There were some other coworkers also listening to him and all made the the general statement that this statement wasn’t true. I took it a step further and told him, “Jesus was poor and He changed the world.” There was an actual pause after that. I think I took everyone off-guard and I received a lot of quizzical looks. Finally, as if they were brought out of a trance they all agreed, “You’re right, that is the best example.” Too bad the coworker who was ranting was already halfway out the door and I don’t think he heard me. Regardless, it was not only a reality check for my coworkers but also for me. I have chosen to go into the depths with Jesus Christ; it is not meant to be comfortable and I don’t want it to be.

Originally posted at Kitty in the City.
Image: PD-US

Two Charcoal Fires

Peter’s Denial, Carl Heinrich Bloch (1873)

There are only two charcoal fires (Greek: anthrakia) mentioned in the whole Bible, and they are both in the Gospel of John. The first anthrakia mentioned was in the high priest’s courtyard, where the gatekeeper said to Peter, “You are not one of this man’s disciples are you?” and Peter says, “I am not.” Questioned like that two more times, Peter, now warming himself at the same fire, DENIES being a disciple of Jesus two more times (c.f. Jn 18:18, 25-27).

The second anthrakia mentioned was on the shore of the Sea of Galilee, apparently prepared by the Risen Christ (Jn 21:9). Here, the very same Peter was questioned; “Do you love me?” and the disciple now affirms his ALLEGIANCE three times.

Christ’s Charge to Peter, Raphael (1515-1516)

So one anthrakia sets the threefold denial of discipleship, while the other anthrakia sets the threefold affirmation of discipleship. Coincidence? Knowing John’s Gospel, such symbology is likely not by chance. And who is to say that the association does not go back to Jesus himself, helping Peter to realize that the denier is being given a fresh start in his relationship to the Lord. This beach scenario is not only a matter of astounding forgiveness; it is also of commissioning: “Feed my lambs; feed my sheep.”

I’ve once asked a bunch of friends before – “Why did Jesus mention feeding his Lambs and then his Sheep? Like, what’s the difference?” This verse is deeply theological and the Church has the best answer: Jesus is commissioning Peter here to become not just leader of the laity (lambs); but also leader of the clergymen (sheep); symbolized through the young and mature in the flock.

Peter is given an opportunity to demonstrate the love he professed by sharing in the mission of the risen Lord. Ultimately, it is going to be a matter of being led where he does not want to go. Loving the head shepherd means obeying his commandments – even if it means becoming the first Pope, which would ultimately lead to his martyrdom.

Pope Francis Makes Me Uncomfortable

2014 Pastoral Visit of Pope Francis to Korea Closing Mass for Asian Youth Day August 17, 2014 Haemi Castle, Seosan-si, Chungcheongnam-do Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism Korean Culture and Information Service Korea.net (www.korea.net) Official Photographer : Jeon Han This official Republic of Korea photograph is being made available only for publication by news organizations and/or for personal printing by the subject(s) of the photograph. The photograph may not be manipulated in any way. Also, it may not be used in any type of commercial, advertisement, product or promotion that in any way suggests approval or endorsement from the government of the Republic of Korea. If you require a photograph without a watermark, please contact us via Flickr e-mail. --------------------------------------------------------------- 교황 프란치스코 방한 제6회 아시아 청년대회 폐막미사 2014-08-17 충청남도 서산시 해미읍성 문화체육관광부 해외문화홍보원 코리아넷 전한I have a confession to make. Well, if you read the title of this post, you already know, but here it is again: Pope Francis makes me uncomfortable.

I know that as a Catholic I am probably not supposed to say that (or feel that way), but it’s true. Ever since he was elected Pope, he has made me uncomfortable.

It started with hearing “first Jesuit Pope” and seeing this humble man meekly waving from the balcony, and it has continued throughout his papacy.

Every time I see him in the news, or trending on Facebook or Twitter, my first thought is, “Oh no, what does the media think he said this time?”

After that wears off, I begin to wonder, “Wait, what did he actually say?”

And then it usually hits me square in the face: “Is he speaking to me?”

At first, I thought my discomfort stemmed from the media’s portrayal of our beloved leader, but I came to realize that it was more than that. He makes me uncomfortable because he is challenging me, personally, to encounter Christ and His Church in a whole new way.

I have decided that it’s a good thing that he makes me uncomfortable.  Honestly, he should make all of us uncomfortable. A leader who makes people feel comfortable can’t lead very effectively.

As Pope Benedict said, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

We were not made for comfort. I have to let that sink in sometimes, especially when something comes along that throws me out of my comfort zone. We were not made for comfort. We were made for greatness.

We are called, as Christians by our baptism, to be challenged.  We are then called to challenge the world by our love and faith.  Christ radically challenged the world, and so should the Vicar of Christ here on earth.  Christ asked the disciples to leave all comforts behind and to follow Him, and He asks us to do the same today.  In the same way, as leader of Christ’s Church, Pope Francis is also called to make us uncomfortable, just as Jesus did and continues to do today.

I’m eagerly and anxiously anticipating Pope Francis’s arrival to the United States. I’m excited to hear how he challenges our country to step out of our comfort zones, but I’m also uncomfortable about what he will say that will speak directly to me, challenging me in a new and radical way. Pope Francis reminds us that we do not live in a safe Catholic bubble, but rather we are striving for the Kingdom as we live in the world. He challenges us to step out of that safe bubble and bring Christ to the world.  Yes, it will be uncomfortable at times. But by accepting this discomfort, we will find the peace that God promises us, because we were made for greatness.

Reflections from the Crowds

Pope Francis on his way to the venue of the Meeting with Families on January 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. Photo credit: Isabel Montes.
Pope Francis on his way to the venue of the Meeting with Families on January 16, 2015 in Manila, Philippines. Photo credit: Isabel Montes.

I volunteered to be part of the “human barricade” in one of the scheduled events during the current papal visit to my country. Our job was to stand behind the row of policemen along the route the Pope would take to the Meeting with Families – partly to prevent the crowd from breaking into the Pope’s path and getting unruly, partly to create a welcoming atmosphere for the Pope.

Although the Pope was expected to pass by along the route at around 5:00 in the afternoon, we were asked to arrive at the site as early as 8:00 in the morning. We whiled the time away watching video footages of the other papal events, listening to the news over a handheld radio, reading, and socializing with each other. Despite the inconvenience of waiting the whole day in tropical weather, it was a joyful wait, as we encountered a lot of our friends who also volunteered to be part of the human barricade. There was sense of solidarity even with people we don’t know – soon the entire crowd was doing coordinated hand waves, and some older people beside us asked us to teach them our “Papa Francesco” cheers.

Excited built up as the time of the Pope’s arrival drew near. From where I stood I could not see the action up front; I felt like Zaccheus who, because he was short in stature, had to climb a sycamore tree to see Christ amidst the crowd. I relied on auditory cues to find out if the Pope had already arrived. There were several false alarms, as when a media camera focused on one part of the crowd triggered rounds of cheering and waving.

Finally, the Pope did pass by. I resigned myself to not being able to see him, but just the same I waved my flaglet as hard as I could and screamed “Viva il Papa!” as loud as I could, satisfied that these efforts would contribute to a welcoming atmosphere for the Pope. But I did get to see him in profile for a fleeting second, and even if it was not the best view, I felt exhilarated.

Our group lingered for a while to watch what went on during the Meeting with Families, which was being projected outside the venue on a big screen. We listened to his beautiful address. After the event, we transferred places so as to be able to see him on his way out; although this time I did not get to see him; all I got to see was the roof of the Popemobile. The others in my group were able to, however, and this time he was facing our direction. Again, it was for fleeting seconds, but we were ecstatic for the whole night afterwards.

When the papal visit was announced, I resigned myself to not being able to see him, consoling myself with the thought that what matters is to listen to his words. Yet here I was, contending with the crowd for even just a fleeting glance at him, which is often the only reward of “pope-chasing” efforts during papal visits. Why do people still put up with the inconveniences of “pope-chasing” for a brief papal apparition? What effect does the mere physical presence of the pope have on people?

I learned the answers watching video footage of popes waving to crowds from their Popemobiles. I can’t help but wonder what they think when they wave back at enthusiastic crowds waving at them. Each of them have their own ways of showing it, but I’m sure their sentiments are the same as those of Christ, Who, upon seeing the crowds, had compassion for them for they are like sheep without a shepherd. Perhaps popes feel a bit sad, too, when they see the crowds, which probably remind them of the crowds that followed Christ throughout his public ministry, cheered him on Palm Sunday, yet, upon being prodded by their leaders, clamoured for his death on Good Friday. Doubtless, like Christ, they want to gather the crowds as a hen gathers her brood, but the crowd “wouldst not”.

Indeed, just as Christ is an image of God the Father, the pope, as the visible head of the Church, is “sweet Christ on earth”. He is a tangible symbol of Christ’s love for His flock, which He has not left unattended. This is why just the momentary sight of him, the mere awareness of being in his physical presence, brings so much joy and peace and grace – for an encounter with him is, in a way, an encounter with Christ.

Perhaps among those enthusiastically waving at the pope as he passes by are those who see him nothing more than a celebrity who has made a touchdown to our shores. Perhaps for others, being in a crowd where the pope will pass by is just all in a day’s work – like the policemen who have to control the crowds, or the snack hawkers hoping to sell food. But just the same, the presence of the pope is, for everyone, an encounter with Christ. An encounter with Christ, no matter how brief, never leaves one indifferent.

Re-Stating the Narrative

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As if there weren’t enough articles, blogs, books, interviews, and every other form of print and media already out there about Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI, here is another one. I’m not sure if this will be new or different or change your point of view, but I know that it will help me sort out my thoughts, and hopefully it might do the same for someone else.

Recently I was at a very good Theology on Tap where a priest spoke on Pope Francis and what he is doing and has done already in his less than one year as pope. This priest, educated in Rome during the time of Pope Benedict XVI, presented a narrative that I feel like I’ve read and heard over and over again: the two popes are the same. Sure, they might say some things slightly differently, have different personalities, and emphasize different things, but for the most part they’re the same.

Let me start by saying this: I get this narrative. We as the Church want to make sure that people understand that the faith isn’t changing and that Christ is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow all the way until the end of time. It is important that people understand that Catholic teaching is not changing according to the tenets of the world, and that Pope Francis doesn’t want it to. In fact, this point is extremely important. Pope Francis still hates abortion and wants it to end; Pope Benedict XVI spoke out against neglect of the poor in an extreme way. The beliefs of these two men are the teachings of the Church, and so it is true that they are the same.

All this is very true, however it may be just as important for us in the Church to emphasize their differences, for the beauty of the Church might shine more in the differences of these two men than their similarities. Pope Benedict XVI once said that the most convincing arguments for the Church are its saints and its art; wouldn’t the difference of these two men emphasize what it is we find so beautiful in the saints? The beauty of the Church is not that it makes every person the same, but that it allows each person to become the best version of himself. If a person who is not currently a faithful Catholic, or maybe not Catholic at all, wants to emphasize how different Pope Francis is, maybe we shouldn’t jump to remind them that they’re the same. Instead, we should use that as a way to explain that the Church and Christ Himself allow a person to come alive, not to blend in. Pope Francis is very different from Pope Benedict XVI, just as St. Moses the Black and Blessed Mother Teresa were very different, and that really is okay.

I am writing this piece in large part because it is taking me a while to come around to really understanding Pope Francis. An avid lover of everything that had anything to do with Pope Benedict XVI, the differences between him and Pope Francis mixed with people telling me that they were the same left me more confused than anything. I heard Pope Francis say something or saw him do something that was very new, but then was told that it was the same as Pope Benedict XVI, and I struggled to make sense of it. Changing the narrative, though, and understanding that they are very different people who love and serve the same God, is helping me to see that them being different is not a bad thing, but rather a very good example of the Body of Christ.

Still here!

Answers to a “Pagan Christmas”

Charlie gave Linus the pop quiz: what is Christmas all about? Of course, Linus proclaims the birth of Christ (was Linus named after the second Pope?)

Today it would have looked more like this:

christmas-tree-charlie-brown-linus2

The modern Catholic, and most Christians for that matter, has many fronts to defend, one of them being the so-called “pagan roots.” This accusation is made on many facades of the faith. For example, an objector might tell you that Christians adopted the Holy Day of Easter from the pagan celebration of the fertility goddess, Ishtar (sounds a little like Easter, right?). This time of year though, you are likely to hear the objection that Christmas is a christo-pagan holiday, a mash-up of pagan belief and Christian celebration. Here are some of the objections or accusations you might meet, and a helpful way to respond.

1.  Christians invented Christmas from the winter solstice celebration of Sol Invictus.

Yes, there were mid-winter celebrations in religions outside Christianity during the time of the Early Church. In fact, like Easter, the East and the West were observing Christmas differently, while until recently, the Armenians didn’t celebrate it at all. The West led the way with a distinctive nativity-based celebration, concluding with Holy Mass. That’s the same as how you see it today. The development of Christmas was not an assimilated celebration until the 4th century. Does that mean that the Apostle John, and Sts. Polycarp and Irenaeus, three men who were apostolically connected, did not celebrate Christmas? Probably so, but there is nothing wrong with this. Merely because a Christian celebration is similar to that of a pagan one proves nothing. There is either coincidence of the celebrations in the same time period or there is influence on one another.

The objector has to ask himself the following: 1) after centuries of persecution for not observing pagan holidays, where is the proof of influence? Or/and, 2) who influenced whom? Did Christianity have the influence on pagans to begin adopting a more public and concrete celebration or did we “Christianize” a pagan event? We can observe that the two were present at the time but neither scenario is a problem with the Christian because the Church has the ability to Christianize people and celebrations alike. Light was overcoming darkness at the celebration of Sol Invictus and in Christ, darkness was defeated by the real luminousness of Christ. Paganism had a hint, but Christianity had the answer.

2.  The Christmas tree comes from pagan origins and is condemned in the Bible.

The objector can have a field day with this one. Evergreens are a near-universal symbol of hope in the winter season. They represent resurrection (triumph of live over death) for the Egyptians, everlasting life for the Scandinavians and Druids, and still, agricultural anticipation (to the god Saturnalia) for the Greeks/Romans. But the tree is not recognized as a use of Christmas celebration until the time of Luther. More closely connected to the ancient church is the use of evergreen wreaths. Your objector might say that it came around the same time as the popularity of the pagan celebration Saturnalia.  Let him know that Tertullian wrote as early as A.D. 190-220, that Christians hang more “wreaths and laurels” than the pagans (who hang it for the “gate gods”) at their doors. He was condemning the wreath as something worth putting hope in like the pagans did with their temples, over that of Jesus who is the true Light in which we are the actual temples of the Spirit. He wasn’t condemning the décor! He ends with, “You are a light of the world, and a tree ever green.” READ TERTULLIAN “ON IDOLATRY” HERE (see Chapter XV)

The passage in the Bible your objector is referring to comes from Jeremiah 10:3-4.

Thus says the LORD: Learn not the customs of the nations, and have no fear of the signs of the heavens, though the nations fear them. For the cult idols of the nations are nothing, wood cut from the forest, Wrought by craftsmen with the adze, adorned with silver and gold. With nails and hammers they are fastened, that they may not totter (NAB).

Let’s get one thing straight up front: Jeremiah was not talking about Christmas trees because he was writing hundreds of years before Christmas became a celebration. He was pointing out the idolatry of the people of that day, and much like Tertullian, was warning against the idolatry of those who put there hope in earthly gods and things.

Near to this, the objector must understand that Christians are not intent on worshiping their trees and are certainly not putting them in their living rooms and entryways to deter spirits. Perhaps for some carolers and eggnog, but not for protection.

Conclusion

There is nothing wrong with the Church “baptizing” certain practices of other religions. The objector is confusing the Church of deriving its beliefs from these celebrations, with the  assimilation of seasonal celebrations and symbols. Like St. Patrick did with the clover to illuminate and demonstrate the reality of the Trinity. Akin to St. Paul explaining the “unknown god” at the Areopagus. Paul did not derive the idea from the Greeks that day, and Patrick did not derive the Trinity from a leaf.

We don’t believe that Christians hold the patent on Truth. Instead, we believe that God has riddled himself to other religions. In other words, just because a specific religion does not contain the whole truth, does not mean it contains no truth. If you witness to a pagan who believes a wreath will save him, maybe you can show him how Jesus is the fulfillment of that promise of everlasting life. Then, just as with the cross that hangs from our necks, we can display a wreath to remind us what is true. In this way, Christianity has the distinct ability to assimilate the “hints” of other religions.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes, “If a religion is not only true but more true than all the other religions, then it should connect with all those other religions at the points where they are true.” Read “Paganism, Prophecies, and Propaganda” HERE.

 

Minding the Monarchical Church

The Church functions within a monarchical structure – this is important to remember. In addition to this, though, Her system applies to operations in the political realm. There is indeed a necessary temporal aspect to the Church.

The Pope, essentially, operates as a monarch. He may choose to convoke councils and synods, which act as versions of a parliament, and he can even set self-imposed limits on his authority, but it is his divine right to act in the way that he sees fit. After all, “full power was given to him in blessed Peter by our Lord Jesus Christ, to feed, rule, and govern the universal Church” (Council of Florence).

The Church even uses “purple and scarlet” and “gold and precious stones,” the traditional signs of power and prestige. Oddly, fundamentalist Protestants tell us that our utilization of these colors is proof that the Church is the “whore of Babylon” (Revelation 17:1-18). Of course, they are wrong and divorced from historical context.

Further, some of the Biblical evidence for the primacy of Peter hints at a temporal aspect. Eliakim, the forerunner of the Papacy, was entrusted by God with a political position.

And do not forget the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13). One line from it reads, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Again, a temporal aspect is hinted at.

Keeping all of that in mind, think about the damage that secular authorities have done to the Church. It was the princes in Germany that secured a place for Martin Luther’s religion. And it was King Henry VIII who, just to secure a divorce from his wife, Catherine of Aragon, started the Protestant Church of England. On top of that, the Act of Settlement (1701) in that latter country prevents Catholics from sitting on the throne.

Nonsense from the State must be reined in, and profane governance must be brought to the heel of sacred morality. The State should stay under the auspices of the Church – only She can provide much-needed balance to the fickleness of politics. “It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds. This is the principle of the ‘rule of law,’ in which the law is sovereign and not the arbitrary will of men” (CCC #1904).

Vladimir Solovyov, a Russian Orthodox theologian who was sympathetic to Catholicism, once wrote, “But if the faith communicated by the Church to Christian humanity is a living faith, and if the grace of the sacraments is an effectual grace, the resultant union of the divine and the human cannot be limited to the special domain of religion, but must extend to all Man’s common relationships and must regenerate and transform his social and political life.”

The prevalence of dissonance between faith and life is striking. The Church even now suffers disobedient laymen that appear completely beholden to political parties and candidates that oppose Her on nearly every issue. In 2012, for example, the bishops of the United States heartily warned against supporting those that promote immorality. Bishop Thomas Paprocki cautioned, “You need to think and pray very carefully about your vote, because a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.” These warnings were, as we know, largely ignored. That must be corrected for the future.

Solovyov also said that “the papal monarchy [was the] foundation of [past] imperfect but genuine unity” — I concur. The Papacy has often offered the most unitive and peaceful solutions to the sometimes-primitive world, in contrast to the rash impulses of many kings and princes.

Popes have historically maintained the Church’s superiority to the State. Pope St. Gelasius I wrote to Emperor Anastasius in 494, “There are two powers, august Emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled, namely, the sacred authority of the priests and the royal power. Of these that of the priests is the more weighty, since they have to render an account for even the kings of men in the divine judgment.”

It is true that the Church “cannot and must not replace the State” (Deus Caritas Est), but the two must work in harmony, and for that to be possible, the State must give up its immoral frivolities and stay in the Faith.

Great leaders such as Constantine, Pepin, and Charlemagne understood this. These monarchs (as well as many lesser-known others) endowed the Church with gifts beyond measure, and we should express gratitude for them daily. Unfortunately, such greats are rare in modern politics. This bothers me very much, because all civil authorities are supposed to act in alike manner.

The Papacy is the pinnacle of civilization; it is our most tangible link to God. That is why all, no matter their circumstances, are called to show tremendous deference to the Pope, the Vicar of Christ, the leader of God’s Church. He has no equal, and he should never be treated as a human peer, but as our divine guide. Our politics need to reflect that.

Sts. Thomas More and Thomas Becket, pray for us.

For more insight on the relations between Church and State, see my previous column on the subject.

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The Church Should Rule the World

Never mind “the Galileo controversy” (a good response to that is here, by the way). The Church should rule the world.

One of the things that I have noticed that Catholics seem to be very wary of discussing is the history of the temporal power of the Church. Most of us have heard or read about the pompous popes, the conniving cardinals, and the notorious nepotism, so I suppose that it is not terribly shocking that Catholics would shrink when Church history is discussed.

But there is surprisingly little for which we should be ashamed, despite what the classic Protestant and secular narratives dictate.

DEFENDING OUR HISTORY

Protestants spread a lot of false propaganda during and after the Reformation. Lutherans, especially, consistently made it a point to implicitly and explicitly label the Pope as “Antichrist” and “Lucifer.” Protestants also frequently invented lies about past popes.

Pope Alexander VI is a great example of the much-maligned popes. He has been accused of having carnal relations with his daughter, throwing the infamous Banquet of Chestnuts, and having his enemies killed off.

Well, there is no proof that any of that ever happened. The daughter thing? There is absolutely no solid factual basis for it. The banquet? Msgr. Peter de Roo, after searching the Vatican Archives extensively, debunked that one. It was allegedly recorded by Johann Burchard, the pope’s master of ceremonies, in his diary, but it seems inconsistent with Burchard’s writing style. It is also contrary to the majority consensus of historians. The murder of his enemies? I can find no proof of that, either, but I guess that such activity was just commonly assumed to have taken place, given the time period.

(For more about Pope Alexander VI, watch a video about him that I created.)

Oh, and the Crusades, the Spanish Inquisition, and the like? Christians have killed far, far fewer people than have atheists and members of most other faiths (which is demonstrated here). Also, a fantastic guide to the Inquisitions (and the difference between the Spanish Inquisition, a state-managed affair, and Inquisitions managed by the Church) is available here.

Meanwhile, the Church has done good. The Church denounced slavery way before other entities (read about the complicated history here), created the blueprint for modern education (read about that here, here, and here), and has always served as the primary advocate for basic economic fairness.

WHAT COULD CHURCH RULE LOOK LIKE?

The Church “cannot and must not replace the State” (quote from Deus Caritas Est, Pope Benedict XVI’s first encyclical). After all, there is a separation between God and Caesar, as evidenced by Matthew 22, Mark 12, and Luke 20. But that does not mean that the Church cannot act as the final arbiter in important matters.

Church rule could work a little like Iran’s system. (Try not to cringe about the comparison.) The Supreme Leader of Iran only involves himself with matters that either relate directly to his religious beliefs or concern important government appointments. He typically does not bother himself with normal, everyday things. Under this theoretical system, the Pope (and/or his delegates, if a regional system were preferred) would essentially act in the same capacity, only on a global scale. This would also be technically similar to the U.K.’s system, which requires royal assent (approval from the monarch) before bills passed by Parliament can become law.

Under the theoretical system, the Church would not usurp the State (as some might fear), but rather, enlighten it. The Church would actively serve as the cornerstone for ethics in the public and private spheres.

In Her theoretical leadership role, the Church would provide moral and economic stability. Finally, abortion, euthanasia, gay “marriage,” and other societal ills could be ended. Finally, the world could experience the economic principles contained in Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno, etc. Finally, we could have peace.

I know what some are thinking: Wouldn’t such a system be open to abuse?

The answer is: of course, like all systems are. But while clergy make mistakes, they rarely do so with the sort of nonchalance that politicians often do.

For example, in 2012, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol at a police checkpoint in San Diego. An officer who was at the scene told The Associated Press, “He was a driver that was obviously impaired but he was quite cordial and polite throughout. He was not a belligerent drunk at all … There were no problems with him throughout the night.” The archbishop spent the night in custody, then immediately apologized and asked forgiveness.

Compare that with the infamous Sen. Ted Kennedy and his “Chappaquiddick Incident.”

 

I long for the days of St. Ambrose, a bishop of Milan, who excommunicated Emperor Theodosius for the emperor’s reprehensible actions. In response, the emperor bowed to authority and did penance. If only our leaders today were as humble.

People might call me “overzealous,” or an “Ultramontanist,” but I simply want to bring Christ fully to the world.

 

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Looking at Pope Francis via Pius V

Pope Francis, on the first full day of his papacy, prayed at the tomb of Pope St. Pius V. I do not think that was coincidental. In fact, I believe that His Holiness intends to be remembered as most similar to Pius V. There are five ways in which I see this is already evident:

1. Connections to the New World.

Pius V was a big supporter of missions in the New World (aka the Americas).

Pope Francis is the first pope from the New World, bringing with him a culture that has, until now, never seemed to have a serious foothold in the Vatican. His Holiness’ cultural experiences could potentially be very important to the future of the Church, considering an estimated 40% of Catholics worldwide are Hispanic.

2. Papal garments.

Have you ever wondered where the classic white cassock that popes wear came from? Though the actual origins are unclear, Pius V is the one most commonly credited for starting the custom, because after his election, he chose to continue wearing his simple white Dominican habit.

Like Pius V, Pope Francis chose to wear only the cassock (and a zucchetto and a pectoral cross, of course!) when he greeted the world after his election.

3. Care for the poor and disabled.

Pius V began his pontificate by giving large alms to the poor. He washed the feet of the poor and embraced lepers. He once even kissed the feet of a beggar covered with ulcers.

Pope Francis has blessed and kissed a disabled man, washed the feet of prisoners, and embraced a child with cerebral palsy. His Holiness has also called for the Church to be “for the poor.”

4. Church reforms.

On reforming the Church, Pius V did a lot. He cut the Vatican’s budget and tackled immorality (e.g. the use of prostitutes, etc.) among the clergy, along with other things.

In light of the mysterious Vatileaks report that a group of cardinals prepared for then-Pope Benedict XVI, in which it has been speculated that immorality and incompetence among some working in the Vatican is detailed, Pope Francis appears ready to reform the Roman Curia. He has even set up an eight-member commission to make recommendations on the subject.

5. Willingness to take on politicians.

Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I for her role in forming the Protestant Church of England, insisted on the importance of the Church’s teachings in civil affairs, and supported oppressed Catholics.

Pope Francis, as Cardinal Bergoglio, stood up to Argentinian President Cristina Kirchner on several issues, including gay “marriage” and abortion. He is not afraid to speak his mind.

 

Taking all of that into account, I am sure that the pontificate of Pope Francis will be regarded as a time of a reverent resurgence for the Church.

Why We Cry For The Pope

(among other things)

Why do we act like this?

To our dear separated brothers and sisters, nothing comes across as more counterintuitive to the Christian religion than the Pope. The great german theologian, Karl Adam, gestured at this notion — that the Pope is the real hanging chad of ecumenical dialog — at the end of his diamond-of-a-book, The Roots of the Reformation. He is right.

Protestantism simply cannot comprehend the Pope. Of course, that does not mean that the concept of the papacy does not loom large in their theology. I”ve argued elsewhere that it is partly a matter of drinking too much of the home-made papal brew. We might also blame the way myth works: first the reality, then the lore, then the meme that just won”t go away. So it is with the Pope, and tails, and talisman and the like. For you know, of course, that the pope is the anti-Christ, eats children, and owns the world.

I mean, what”s not to like?

So it is no wonder that there are many out there who simply cannot shake the ghosts out of their schismatic motherboards. Which is why I would like to take this moment to explain why Catholics cry, sing, dance, and holler upon seeing — in this episode — a small, bavarian, grey haired man. Youth, old women, statesmen, and small children, gathered in the streets just to get a glimpse of “Papa”. This is really weird, right? I mean, it is giving me the Holy Ghost bujeebers.

I bind you Pope!

Despite our separated sistas inclinations, and far from idolatry, our displays of affection for the Pope can best be understood casino online in two ways: the prophetic and the familial.

ALL IN THE FAMILY

As pastor of the Universal Church, the Pope is the manifestation of our unity. He is not the Church per se, we are the Church. Yet, we (plural) are one (singular). So, if the Church is God”s sacramental presence in the world, the Pope is the lighthouse of the body. He is like the grandfather at the family reunion. Everyone is gathered around him, not because he is the most important, but because none of it would be important without him. Without the old man, all we would have is the people we came with. Of course, this is no theological defense of the papacy. Just google-it to find one of those. Instead, I want my fair inquirer to understand what we mean by our affection. El papa romano means we are family — which ultimately means, we are one.

Pop a cork!

But not so fast, because ultimately there is a better reason for our joy, tears, and fog horns. Besides the symbol of our familial bond, the Pope is a symbol of our Savior”s power. We confess that He rose again — we believe the words of the eye witnesses. But, do we? Do we really believe that He rose?

HE”S ALIVE!

I do. And one big, fat, awesomely incredible reason is that the Pope is here. That”s right. The man with the tail, who owns the world, and has a secret pact with Lloyd”s of London is a type of proof that Jesus is alive. Let me explain.

If the Protestants are to have their story right, there is no good reason there is still a Pope. The Reformation did not promise just the best ideas, but the best religion. The Pope was the anti-Christ, is the anti-Christ, and the King of Kings and Lord of Lords will have none of it. Or so goes the storyline. That is the storyline, right? The pope is dead, the pope is dead, the wicked witc…, uh, yeah, um, pope is dead.

(excuse me, excuse me)

Still here!

And in my book, there is really no good explanation for why we still have a Pope, other than the fact that Jesus is alive, He is working in His Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against Her. Come on, we have had bad popes. Really, like the kind of you-ain”t-gonna-make-it-past-this-one bad popes. So, either the cat has 28 lives or something is up.

We think something is up.

Actually, Someone.

So come on and don”t be a doubter.

Why I’m Glad the Pope is ‘Just a Man’

“You actually follow the Pope?!” people have asked me, sure that this is just as silly as believing in fairies. “He’s just a man like you and me! What are you brainwashed?”

For many years, I wondered the same thing about Catholics. Before I entered the Church I questioned why so many people were devoted to a simple, strange old fellow in a white dress. After all, he’s just a man, right?

But today the fact that the Pope is “just a man” no longer keeps me away from the Church. In fact now it’s just the opposite; it’s one more reason I embrace her.

To understand why, we first need to turn to the Gospels. In Matthew 16, Jesus bestows a special power on Peter, his most prominent, yet brash disciple. Jesus explains that Peter is the Rock on which he would build his Church. In doing so he makes Peter the ambassador of his kingdom, vesting him with his own divine authority.

Yet what’s often neglected is how unsettling this choice was. Jesus had plenty of seemingly better options. He could have gone with the mystical John, the compassionate James, or the sharp-minded Matthew. Or what about Andrew, the first to believe? But Jesus nevertheless settled on Peter.

It didn’t take long for these concerns to be validated. Immediately after naming him the first Pope, Jesus accuses Peter of being in league with Satan. Later on, Jesus questions Peter’s faith and, if that wasn’t enough, Peter betrays Jesus three times during the most important moment of his life.

However Jesus seemed to know what he was doing. While Peter had a propensity to fail, his flops were always redeemed. Time and again they’d be trumped by his repentance and humility. For instance, Peter went from sinking in water to sailing the ship of the Church. He denied Jesus three times but then affirmed his love again and again and again. Most importantly, Peter fled from the Garden of Gethsemane but raced toward his martyrdom, which included a brutal upside-down crucifixion.

So what does this have to do with my love for the papacy? Well it all leads to one simple fact: the papacy started with “just a man” and since then has been nothing more. Now when I say ‘man’, I’m not talking about mere masculinity. I’m talking about the true humanity that we all share. The salty, tragic, wonderful mishmash of traits that makes us human; the mix of benevolence and evil and generosity and shame that fills us all.

A glance at the papacy down through the centuries reveals this spectrum. For example, we’ve had our fair share of salty popes. Pope John XII murdered scores of people and was caught in bed with another man’s wife. Pope Urban VI tortured dozens, if not hundreds, of conspirators. And Pope Stephen VI exhumed the dead body of his predecessor before throwing it in a river. The papacy, like mankind, has its warts.

But on the flipside, we’ve had many honorable popes. Think of men like Gregory the Great, Leo XIII, and Pope John Paul II (and, may I add, Pope Benedict XVI). Though they weren’t perfect by any measure, these men captained the Church well and brought light to the entire world. Like the repentant Peter, they each submitted their wills (and faults) to God. So the papacy, like mankind, also has its beauty.

The pope has always been “just a man”. He’s like us in all ways including sin. He falls, he triumphs, he suffers, he sacrifices, he makes mistakes yet seeks redemption. He understands all of our difficulties for they are his own and has moments of glory that seem far beyond this world.

And that all, of course, makes sense: the only way God could save a world of humans was to become one himself. Likewise, the only way a pope can lead a Church of humans is be one of the crowd.

So I’d agree with the skeptic who says the Pope is “just a man” like the rest of us. And for that very reason–for that surprising, sometimes disturbing fact–I’m glad.

(Image Credit: Topnews.in)

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Brandon-Vogt-e1313148635944.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Brandon Vogt is a Catholic writer and speaker who blogs at The Thin Veil. He is also the author of a new book titled The Church and New Media: Blogging Converts, Online Activists, and Bishops Who Tweet, which was just released by Our Sunday Visitor.[/author_info] [/author]

Don’t You Love Blessed John Paul II? I Do!

I am happy to know a Pope who is youthful at heart, who so lived the Catholic Faith “as is.” I’m so excited to be discovering and re-discovering more and more gems from this saintly Pope of  the Catholic Church in modern time. A Pope who knew what to say and how to say it. A Pope who appealed to both Jews and Gentiles, Pagans and Atheists, Muslims and Hindus, Buddhists and You-name-it.

Blessed John Paul II lived the Catholic life which Saint Paul of Tarsus illustrates to the Church in Corinth:

For whereas I was free as to all, I made myself the servant of all, that I might gain the more. And I became to the Jews a Jew, that I might gain the Jews: To them that are under the law, as if I were under the law, (whereas myself was not under the law,) that I might gain them that were under the law. To them that were without the law, as if I were without the law, (whereas I was not without the law of God, but was in the law of Christ,) that I might gain them that were without the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might gain the weak. I became all things to all men, that I might save all.  (1 Corinthians 9:19-22 Douay-Rheims Bible)

Blessed John Paul II’s whole pontificate lived out this Apostolic Gospel, we can see this in his love for ecumenism, that many others may know about King Jesus Christ whose Church he served as a poor and humble Vicar.  Blessed John Paul has thrown up a BIG CHALLENGE to both Clergy and Lay and especially to we the youth. He really was a shining light in his time and we love You dear Pope!!! Yes we do.

I leave you with a beautiful quote by him:

“It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle.

It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”

Join me as I explore some of his quotes on Blessed Pope John Paul II Quotes. Thank you. Blessed John Paul pray for us. Amen.

“Jesus is your friend. The Friend. With a human heart, like yours. With loving eyes that wept for Lazarus. And he loves you as much as he loved Lazarus.” Saint Josemaría Escrivá — Godwin Delali Adadzie is a Catholic living in Ghana, West Africa. A former smoker (Fish smoker now a Vegetarian) but still loves to drink a lot (of water). He attempts to blog at the Fair (HubBlogs with GADEL), the Good (Blessed Virgin our Mother Mary Immaculate), the Bad (GADEL Said What?) and the Ugly (Catholic Fiction: Responding to Myths & Half-Truths)