(t)he three most recent Popes – Blessed John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis – “are all giants,”... and each “has particular talents.”
“John Paul II emphasized the soul,” he suggested.
“His eloquent calls to prayer; his accent on the revival of the spirit; his concentration on the sacraments and devotions of the church, which bring the grace and mercy of Jesus; his tender trust of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and his record ‘saint-making,’ cogently reminded us that the soul comes first.”
“In Pope Benedict XVI we have a successor of St. Peter who emphasized the head,” Cardinal Dolan continued, noting that the recently retired Pope helped to “renew the church’s vast intellectual heritage, and remind us so effectively that faith and reason are hardly at odds, but actually allies.”
“And now, Pope Francis emphasizes the heart,” he said.
“Warmth, mercy, joy, tenderness, outreach, acceptance, love,” the cardinal observed, “all flow from the heart, and those are the words most used by Pope Francis.”
“Don’t get me wrong: All three knew well that the soul, the head and the heart were all essentials,” Cardinal Dolan explained. “But each had a particular favorite.”—CNA, Oct. 4, 2013.
Thorin Oakenshield: You think the
SynodElves will give our quest their blessing? They will try to stop us.
Gandalf: Of course they will. But we have questions that need to be answered. If we are to be successful this will need to be handled with tact, and respect, and no small degree of charm, which is why you will leave the talking to me.
Does Francis realise, for example, “what has happened just by that phrase, ‘Who am I to judge?’”
Francis’s signature sound-bite, George said, “has been very misused … because he was talking about someone who has already asked for mercy and been given absolution, whom he knows well,” George said.
“That’s entirely different than talking to somebody who demands acceptance rather than asking for forgiveness,” George said.
“Does he not realise the repercussions? Perhaps he doesn’t,” George said. “I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise doubts in people’s minds.”
“The question is why he doesn’t he clarify” these ambiguous statements, George said. “Why is it necessary that apologists have to bear the burden of trying to put the best possible face on it?”
“What is it that I expect as a consequence of World Youth Day? I want a mess. We knew that in Rio there would be great disorder, but I want trouble in the dioceses! ... I want to see the Church get closer to the people. I want to get rid of clericalism, the mundane, this closing ourselves off within ourselves, in our parishes, schools or structures. Because these need to get out!"—Pope Francis, World Youth Day, NCReg., 8/1/13.
Following in the footsteps of giants.
Off the cuff or off the wall?
Woe to you, when all men speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.—St. Luke 6:26
Papa Benedict gave back to us a love for beauty, truth and goodness, especially with regards to the Liturgy, thus helping us to overcome the false dichotomy created by the religious social workers who have for decades pitted right liturgy against social justice. Benedict's example heralded a reform of the reform. Benedict presided as a true pastor of souls possessing minds best fed on cuisine, not the pablum that so many in the pews had been fed for almost fifty years.
Now, however, confusion has returned. Papa Francis' comments have stirred much debate and have been appropriated by those who would empty the Gospel (if that were possible) of its truth and authentic mercy.
Mercy—at what cost?
Many dangers, toils and snares.
The question must be asked: Who has the Pope's ear? The Holy Spirit or conniving men? Both, perhaps? The danger that concerns many in the Church is not to the Faith which cannot be changed in the Lord's Catholic Church. The Holy Spirit will not have that! No, the danger is to souls whose faith is weakened by confusing statements coming from Rome. Thanks be to God, the Holy Father has been issuing some hard-hitting statements in defence of marriage and the family since the end of the Synod.
Best buddies no longer?
Media enthusiasm for Francis is slow to wane because their agenda is to drive a wedge between the Pope and faithful bishops. They desperately want to establish themselves as supportive of the pope. So, they have constructed a caricature of the pope that is made in the image of themselves and an agenda which runs counter to the very teachings of Christ. In that regard, the media agenda is diabolic. The media cannot lose its grasp on the Holy Father so they turn their attack, instead, toward those faithful bishops they accuse of pressuring the Pope to change his plans. Of course, the media cannot compel this particular pope to conform to their agenda. He has proven himself capable of outpacing media stereotypes about the papal office. His definition of mercy does not fit the media mould, and they are desperate to try and regain control of the narrative about Pope Francis. With all that in mind, we can expect many additional media shots to be fired at faithful bishops in an attempt to marginalize the faithful and provide room for the heterodox bishops to work their influence on the Holy Father. Whether or not the mainstream media pundits realize it, their agenda is a fool's errand. They, the devil's minions, simply cannot match the genius of the Holy Spirit.
Time will provide opportunities for pundits to assess the degree to which Pope Francis' tenure conforms to the trajectory of the Holy Spirit, or how much any particular action hinders the restoration of truth, goodness and order that is still so badly needed. If Francis' call for a shake up is part of the Spirit's design, and we should be open to that thought whether it means the Church is in for a rough ride or a calmer trip down the Tiber, then we should pray that God will grant us the grace to live and practice the Faith in obedience to the Roman Pontiff. That obedience, however, does not preclude respectful criticism of the means by which Papa Bergoglio is carrying out the responsibilities of the Office of Saint Peter.
Papa Francis needs our prayers. May he be protected from manipulation by men with evil aspirations. May Francis, man of heart, be given the courage to stand for the teaching of Christ and give clear witness so as to end confusion in the hearts and minds of the faithful.
We should pray, too, that those prelates who surround the Holy Father may be purified of any and all falsehood. May they not act on any temptation to manipulate the Holy Father and the mission of the Church toward evil ends.
So then, what will the next pope be? According to Cardinal Dolan, we've had:
- The next pope must love the Holy Eucharist, the source and summit of the Faith. Because the Holy Eucharist is "source and summit" for Christians, the next pope should, first and foremost, foster love and respect for the Liturgy. (It remains to be seen if the Pope's recent appointment of the tradition-minded Cardinal Sarah to the CDW signals any kind of turn in that direction. A turn toward right liturgy would help confirm continuity with Benedict's reform-of-the-reform.)
- The next pope should have eyes with which he can see clearly the direction indicated by the Holy Spirit.
- The next pope should integrate and supplement his predecessors' work in a way that strengthens and confirms the brethren in the mission to save souls.
- The next pope must act in a decisive manner that makes clear the unchanging nature of the Catholic Faith.
For those who believe the Counter Reformation has ended, take a look around: Catholics are leaving the Church in droves. Attracted by a pseudo-gospel slathered with a veneer of joy, Latin American Catholics by the millions are buying a materialistic prosperity gospel proposed by evangelical protestants. Europeans and North Americans have been lured away by another story, the false gospel of secularism in its many guises: sexual liberation and abortion; rejection of authority and relativism; and materialism.
The Africans are far more Roman, i.e., faithful to the Catholic Communion and the authentic vision of the Second Vatican Council, than most Europeans and North Americans could hope to be. Many of our African brethren are being sorely tested by persecution and threats of violence from Islamists. Africans have managed to remain faithful to the intellectual and aesthetic foundations of the Faith delivered to them by selfless missionaries while many churches in the West sit empty and many parishes have no priests.
Another place we can look to for an increase of faith is the tradition-minded communities that actually preach, teach and practice the Faith. Parishes where the Mass is celebrated reverently and by-the-book are producing strong families and vocations to the priesthood and religious life. A younger generation, as it has been well noted here and elsewhere, is not burdened with the misguided anti-authority hippy mindset of an older generation that barely knows the Catholic story.
Catechesis in Music
It's time we stop putting stock in goofy programs that offer limp catechesis. It's time we eliminate bad pop music from Mass and insist on chant and bona fide sacred polyphony that embodies the Catholic story and connects Catholics to their roots in Jesus Christ. The music most Catholics are routinely subject to is a major part of the problem regarding a loss of faith and identity. The drippy devotional ditties presented in most parishes reek of empty clichés that reduce the Faith to trite catchphrases. There is nothing praiseworthy about music (or something that purports to be music) which places constant emphasis on the worshipper and has us singing in the voice of God (I the Lord of sea and sky...). Music that avoids speaking to God and instead merely gushes about how nice it is to be a promoter of social(-ist) projects amounts to a bad PR stunt (e.g., the song All Are Welcome) while avoiding the obvious—i.e., offering praise and thanksgiving to God.
It's time we put a stop to the curious antics of priests and people who think they own the Liturgy and can thus impose their own inventions on the Mass. It's time we assert that we want the Mass celebrated according to the rubrics with the decorum proper to its nature as the Sacrifice of Christ. It's time to liberate the Liturgy from the shackles imposed by Fr. Entertainment or maestro Saccharine Showtune.
When all the hugging and kissing, warm fuzzies and saccharine platitudes begin to fade, will there be substance for the drifters to come home to?