Just One More (the Real Pope Francis Bandwagon Parade)

little thought regarding the media swoon over Papa Francesco, which occurred last week. (And will last, one wonders, how long?)

Anyway: We confessors do have something of a special point-of-view on things, when it comes to this being “a time of mercy,” as, indeed it is. The Pope and all of us unworthy priests share this point-of-view.

Pope Francis mate.jpgSt. Alphonsus Ligouri put it like this (more or less, I think) in his exhortation to priests, “Be a lion in the pulpit and a lamb in the confessional.”

A contrite soul seeks the mercy of God because he/she has become aware of having committed a sin. The more clearly a preacher separates right from wrong, the more likely it is that someone listening to the sermon will actually wind up experiencing mercy. Because mercy follows contrition, i.e. sorrow for having sinned.

In other words, there is no mercy in preaching that does not clearly delineate right and wrong. The clear delineation of right and wrong helps people make good confessions. It helps us arrive at the place where the lion we heard roaring from the pulpit meets us privately, and turns out to be a gentle lamb, absolving our sins and praising God for His infinite love and the fresh start He gives us all when we confess.

Did anybody (and I literally mean anybody on earth) read the part of the Pope’s interview where he identified the center of the whole drama? The confessional. He approached the business of the Church freeing Herself from ‘small, narrow rules’ from the point-of-view of the confessor, in a confessional, during a confession.

Not to be mean-spirited or small or whatever:

The real Pope Francis bandwagon parade will form at the confessional, my friends. That’s the place to go to get on it.

Pro-Life Focus

caravaggio-call-st-matthew

During my first parish assignment as a seminarian, in 1997, I often found the parochial vicar in the rectory chapel, reading Pope Paul VI’s letter on Evangelization, Evangelii Nuntiandi.

I read the letter then, too. And I could see how Father might draw inspiration for his long hours of labor from it. What does it mean to be Catholic? To be a priest? Evangelii Nuntiandi offers a pretty solid answer.

It seems to me that something very important gets lost in the shuffle of the world-wide reaction to His Holiness Pope Francis’ famous magazine interview. To be honest, I haven’t been able to get through the whole thing. He lost me when he got into St. Ignatius’ style of discernment. I honestly just don’t know what he is talking about.

If you ask me what papal letter answers the fundamental questions, it is John Paul II’s Evangelium Vitae.

Yes, one can talk too much about abortion. In truth, I prefer not to discuss such an ugly subject at all.

But is there a way to understand following Christ that does not involve being a part of the Pro-Life Movement? Is the Pro-Life movement concerned with “small rules?” No. Really it’s quite the contrary. To be pro-life is to embrace the awesomely large power of God.

Will God forgive an abortionist who repents? Yes. A mother who had an abortion? Yes. Someone who drove a woman to the abortion mill, or who paid for it, or who in any way impelled her to have one? Yes, He will forgive the repentant sinner. And He can do wonders with the lives of repentant sinners, as we see illustrated so meaningfully above.

But is there any possible way to conceive of genuine Christian discipleship which does not involve the indefatigable application of one’s energies to the pro-life cause? Maybe my mind got warped by Evangelium Vitae. But I can’t see any way.

Catholic. Christian. Pro-Life. Inseparable, from my humble point-of-view. I honestly don’t think I’m going out on a limb on this one. I will gladly stand corrected, if need be. But I’m pretty sure our Holy Father would agree with me here.