Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Where Else Would You Go? Nowhere else if you would go Deeper and Deeper

I love being Catholic.  I suppose it must be somewhat obvious.  I also love this Pope. In the interest of full disclosure, I loved the last pope, and the pope before him.  I've read a good deal of Pope Francis's Encyclical.  He's not as masterful as Pope Benedict with writing, but he isn't as dense and difficult as Saint Pope John Paul the Great was either.  

I do not expect of the present pastor, the gifts the prior pastor brought. I expect each pastor who takes charge of the flock, to challenge each of us to go deeper and deeper in.  As of December 8, Pope Francis is throwing open the doors of mercy and inviting everyone in, and trying to send us out into the world, to help gather.   He is calling all of us to radically live out the Gospel, and he's not shy about it.
This is our Pope, this is his gift, this is how he lives out his faith. 

I've read over the years Pope Francis has held the seat of Peter, about how he is a bad pope, one who damages the faith, who discourages the faithful with his remarks.  I remember the rabbits and who am I to judge...I remember being frustrated, but I go back to this picture.

If you want to understand Pope Francis, look at the proclamation of the "Year of Mercy."  It is this type of intimacy that a year of mercy involves.   It is this type of "risk" and this type of literal and physical, emotional and social connecting that Pope Francis is seeking.  He wants everyone in, and you can't get people to consider coming into the church, if you're presenting yourself as the moral bouncer.  People confuse professing what we know to be true, with making accepting of all of it, a prerequisite for entering.  We start at different places and most of us, spend our whole life times wrestling with the totality that is the teaching of the Church, because of our own hang ups and sins which we don't want to give up.

 Most people's faith does not develop into something more authentic, more mature, more intimate, via a scold.  Most people's faith begins to deepen when they meet someone they love, when they discover someone outside of themselves, loves them, when they want to show the one who loves them, that they love deeply too.   The relationship with God is the most romantic one possible in all of existence, for God cannot be outdone in love, and He never disappoints.  But to meet God, one must trust the person providing the introduction (the Church, Pope/Priest/person).  To be part of the New Evangelization,  we don't start with "This is where you need to improve, or change."  We start with, "You've got to come in.  Come meet Jesus.  Come be a part of our family."  Being awash in love, will gradually wash away all that needs washing away.  

So any who feel somehow troubled by this Pope with his words, or with his decision to allow projections of God's creations on the side of the Basilica, I'd say, trust God.  Trust God.  Trust God.  
Trust His Holy Spirit.  Trust the servant picked.  Look at this picture, and really look at it.   It is the beauty of mercy lived.  It is a manifestation of God's love here, through his hands.   Stop worrying about the Pope, and go and be those hands for someone else's troubled head.   Stop arm chair quarterbacking the papacy because no one is going to show up at your house and ask you to become a papal consultant,>  Instead, go about the business of revealing the ocean of mercy God wants to give all of us.   Instead, as Larry D of Acts of the Apostles suggests, go sit down - or better yet, kneel before a tabernacle or in an Adoration chapel – and humbly beg Christ to inflame your charity, to have mercy on your soul, and to increase your wisdom and understanding.  I suspect, if we keep ourselves busy with the business of revealing God's mercy to the world, and showing it to others, we will find all that currently irks, far less irksome.

Before you tsk me for failing to recognize the end of times or tell me I'm naive or ignorant for defending this Pope when he preaches about being a steward of the earth, or wants to through symbolic gestures, get people to stop compartmentalizing what they will and won't do based on politics rather than faith, ask these questions.  What would you deny that he teaches?  What would you affirm that he doesn't?  We're Catholic, which means, we submit ourselves to the authority, we're Papists and proud of it.

All the other stuff is a matter of style, of taste. It's not mine, but then, it doesn't have to be.  Those who write ominous articles about what a tragedy this Pope is, and wait for the next papacy, or who claim He's not a true Catholic, remind me of the dwarves in Narnia.  They make it into the kingdom, but cannot see it, cannot feast properly, because they're too certain of their own understanding, to fathom anything bigger than their own understanding.  "Dwarves are for Dwarves!" they proclaim, and fight over a feast they cannot fully enjoy.  There is a dark joy to thinking you have a greater understanding/exclusive comprehension on some galactic level, than everyone else.  But the solace drawn from a bitter brew of snark, and the conviction you're the modern day sooth seer with all the vision, cannot sustain. For those who cite Saint Catherine of Sienna; she wrote to the pope, and she went to speak with the pope.  She addressed him as a human being, and as such, he responded and returned the Papacy to Rome.  She didn't snipe at him from the safety of an internet echo chamber.  

We cannot enjoy the meal that has been set if we cannot enjoy the company of all invited.  We will not enjoy Heaven, if we've put ourselves in the position of deciding who should and shouldn't be there.  It is like the older brother, standing outside the party for his prodigal brother, still not understanding how or why, his father would forgive his brother, why didn't God punish him first?  Answer?  Our ways, are not God's ways.  Either we trust in God's mercy, and want it for all, or we do not want it for ourselves.  When we try to delineate how God will react, and to further keep some of God's children out (for whatever reason), we are putting ourselves in the position of God.

We have to remember, we cannot fully fathom God's mercy, anymore than we can fathom God's love or His patience, or any of what God is.  We cannot.   We're Catholic.  Catholic means universal, meaning, we want everybody.   God wants all of us back in, all of us at the feast.  Will we go in?
  The Church inviting us in, is inviting us to a conversion, to a deeper relationship with God.  We're to live it, and that means loving those around us as fully as possible.

For those who worry, what about sin? God can manage who will be at the feast.  It is our job to invite everyone deeper and deeper in. 

Lastly, so as to be better able to host others at the feast, here's Bishop Barron's advise for how to best utilize this Year of Mercy.

No comments:

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!