Thursday, October 3, 2013

The tale of two, I mean three Popes

This was initially written when Francis was elected, but I never got around to finishing it. I am not updating the first paragraph as I am lazy. The last update comes after an interesting comment was made a parish meeting I was at.  

 I wanted to write/type this shortly after Benedict abdicated from office, but never got around to it and today with the election of Pope Francis I can't help but think of all three of them, because I can't not think of JP2 when I think of pope.  One of my co-workers is wondering when my next trip to Rome is, because as you know I have to go see the Pope.

I am the JP2 generation, people forget that Pope Francis is only the third pope I have ever known and the conclave that elected him is only the second of my lifetime.  There were marked differences between my reaction to the last papal election and this one.  When John Paul the second died, I didn't know what to do or think.  The man that had been Pope for 28 years was gone, the only Pope I had known was gone.  The man I had been to three World Youth Days with and seen on a trip to Rome was gone.  There would be nothing that could compare to him or take his place.  Then along came Pope Benedict and I cried tears of joy when I heard Joseph Cardinal.... I knew my Church was save and that nothing would change.

When I head  "Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum; habemus Papam: Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum, Dominum Georgium Marium Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum" and while translating the Latin in my head I thought, who, who did they elect.  At first I thought oh Francis, they elected a Franciscan and I thought, no I would have heard "Ioannes" and known it was O'Malley, so until EWTN said who it was I was still wondering who the heck is our Pope.  I didn't have tears of joy in eyes as I watched this at work, later that night when the sound was on and I could hear and see everything I cried just like I did when Benedict was elected. Why, because now I know that my Church will always be the same, because God's in charge.

Fr. Derek, whom I met on my last trip to Rome and who has quickly become one of my favorite priests spoke of his reaction to being in Rome for Benedict's election and how he didn't know what to do with out John Paul the Second, but all of a sudden it hit him, that this is Jesus' Church, that God is in charge, and that He will take care of it.  Thanks to this homily from Fr. Derek and the grace of God, I can now say the same thing.  What, Fr. Derek does have a few years and an extra degree on me, lol.

The above picture is from my second trip to Rome and it is one of my favorite JP2 memories because it was here that I felt the love and peace that came from this man. Nothing seemed to stop him especially when it came to the youth and for that I will forever be grateful as I was one of those youths that he brought closer into the Church.  My favorite JP2 memories have to do with me seeing him and the overwhelming feeling of joy that came over me when I saw him.  

This picture is from my favorite Pope Benedict memory.  I consider myself a papal event veteran aka a snob, I know what I'm doing and I know how to do it.  There was something about this Mass that just spoke to my heart.  It was a Sunday Mass in the den of the devil,  I mean Yankee Stadium (I'm a Mets fan in cause you couldn't tell) and it felt like a Sunday Mass it didn't feel like the crazy massively large World Youth Day Masses.  I guess this was were my love of Pope Benedict was fostered, see I never saw the man as this hard hitting teacher, just a man who loved his church and the liturgy that went with it.  I admit that I am a liturgy snob and if the slightest thing is off it irks me, yes I am a traditionalist aka a don't mess with the Roman Missal type Catholic.  I saw Benedict when I was in Rome  as you can see below.  In Rome I looked for the same feelings I got with JP2 and didn't get them and I wondered why; what was  different.  See in Rome this time I did something I have never done before I put my camera down and away in my bag and watched Pope Benedict drive within touching distance of me.  While the felling of "stupid Asian woman with the damn flag" was the most present thought it wasn't until later that I realized what a blessing this trip was.  Seeing Benedict many not have given the same feelings as when I saw JP2, but now looking back on both events that took place in the Eternal City, well technically it was the Vatican, the same ear to ear grin comes to my face and a sense of peace comes over me and a few tears come to my eyes too.  

I love both of these men, JP2 make the Church young and friendly to me, ok the priests I met and got to know along the way have helped with that too.  Benedict helped to love the traditions of the Church and kept the liturgist and traditionalist in me happy.  

I've watched with joy and trepidation what Pope Francis is doing.  I know that he's teachings are what the Church teaches, but I can't help but wonder as my pastor put it, does he know what he's doing.  There are so many aspects of Pope Francis that I love, but there are aspects that I don't like as well.  The media seems to love him like they have loved no Pope before and that scares me because I don't trust the media. 

 Everything that Pope Francis says and I mean everything is being published via the internet or some other thing. The most recent comment directed towards the pro-life movement or the heavy focus on abortion; bothers me.  I don't like hearing people say "abortion is not a litmus test to being Catholic."  They are right it's not a litmus test but I can not comprehend how someone can say they are Catholic and support anything that claims killing an innocent child is ok.  I get that we need to think about the teaching of the Church and we are allowed to question them but I can't help but wonder what is Francis' plan here.  I am in a country that is now forcing me to pay taxes under the guise of universal healthcare where I have to pay for something that I am morally opposed to.  I am called a hater and a bigot because I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman.  I am now hearing the media say that my Pope is telling me to stop focusing on abortion, and marriage, but I can't as those are my issues.  I am Catholic and I have no other church to run to because I am not leaving the Eucharist or the Church that Jesus Himself started but I can't help but wonder what will happen the moment the leader of said Church finally says something ex-cathedra.

My bishop puts it this way, "He is reforming the way the world sees Catholicism." For everyone's sake I hope my bishop is correct.  Francis is reforming the way the media sees Catholicism, but I can't help but wonder if that's a bad thing.  Fulton Sheen said something along these lines, "There are not a hundred people in America who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions of people who hate what they wrongly believeto be the Catholic Church — which is, of course, quite a different thing."  As I thought before, the Church does not kick people out or turn people away; those that leave the Catholic Church have done so on their own because there is something that they don't agree with it.  Those doors are always open as they always have been.  Our first vocation is to love one another and maybe that is what Francis is getting at.  God has a plan and I know everything will work out but I am left here wondering what is the plan.  

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