Monday, March 25, 2013

"This New Pope is a Nice Change in Direction"???

I'm starting to reach a breaking point.  Not literally...but still...perhaps it is a sadness in realizing that, until the Parousia, we as Catholics will have to tolerate this stuff from both fellow Catholics and everyone else.

Pope Francis is, as you may or may not have heard, going to be celebrating Holy Thursday Mass in an Italian prison as opposed to the traditional St. Peter's Basilica setting of recent memory.

Out come the pretty little neat comfortable boxes - "this Pope cares about people" and "this Pope is a social justice Pope" from the Left and "this Pope hates tradition" and "this Pope is destroying the Mass" from the Catholic right.

Excuse me while I go vomit.

I am stoked beyond belief that the new Pope is celebrating Mass in a prison...I just don't know how much more I'll be able to take of people thinking this Pope is somehow a BREAK or a NEW DIRECTION

The narrative is this: as a Catholic you have to think one of the following
1) Big Papal Masses in St. Peter's Basilica are exactly what the world needs, while Papal Masses in prison are exactly what the world doesn't need...
2) Papal Masses in prison are exactly what the world needs, while big Papal Masses in St. Peter's Basilica are exactly what the world doesn't need.

How about this..."What the world needs is BOTH big solemn Papal Masses in St. Peter's Basilica AND Papal Masses in prisons!"

As a product of the Catholic 90's with burlap vestments, glass chalices, guitar groups, drums in the sanctuary, "our closing song today will be "Lean on Me"" etc.  Pope Benedict's return to chant, beauty, reverence, solemnity etc. WERE EXACTLY WHAT THE WORLD NEEDED.

But here's the thing: I celebrated Latin Mass once a week at the high school (more kids came to it than Mass in English), did the chanting thing (the kids loved it), but I also had Mass in nursing homes and prisons.

What was important at both places was the fact that everyone pitched in to make it as beautiful as possible, and it didn't matter that we were surrounded by vending machines, intrusive PA systems, etc.  It didn't matter that at neither place were we allowed to have real candles - everyone on the team pitched in and made those Masses as beautiful as possible.


That goes for so many other things about the papacies as well.

But people will have their comfortable boxes and the people who think we've just elected a "social justice Pope" will ignore the fact that Pope Francis is a doctrinal black belt who routinely issues roundhouse kicks to the face of all the hot button issues of our time.  And people will go on pretending that because Pope Benedict was known for issuing statements of the very same type that Pope Francis has been ignored for saying, that Pope Benedict is a cold-hearted monster.

And the militant right, refusing anything in the vernacular, will continue to see Pope Benedict as the messiah and Pope Francis as an angel of death sent to destroy all that Benedict "built up"

Let's remember what Jesus said to His Church - "Behold I am with you always, even until the end of the age."

Our Popes have always been what we've needed.  The people who always miss the party are the people who, like the crowds on Palm Sunday, had already decided ahead of time what kind of Messiah they wanted.

Have you decided, ahead of time, what type of Pope we need, or do you listen to the Pope's teaching, read his writings, and pray for him?


  1. Thank you Father John, for sharing this with us. Our faith is the same, and the sacrifice of the mass is the same, no matter where it is celebrated.

    Pope Francis reflects our faith beautifully, in word and deeds.

  2. This was beautiful! Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. I'm not sure I had decided what kind of Pope we "needed" on March 13, but the secular media certainly reported on the whole Conclave as if they knew what the Church needed! With certain names constantly tossed around, I remember sitting in total shock b/c I had never heard the name Jorge Bergoglio mentioned! It appears that the Holy Spirit really does know better than the rest of us!

    Here's what I love about Pope Francis...he has gotten the attention from many in the Protestant world about the social teachings of the Church and our love for the impoverished (physically, mentally, and spiritually). As a Catholic in a predominantly evangelical part of the Bible Belt, it has been a constant battle to "prove" to my non-denominational, "have you accepted Jesus Christ as your personal Lord and Savior) friends that the Church truly does care about those less fortunate in our communities. (And we know we ALWAYS have, right???!!! Catholic Charities, CRS, anyone???!!!)

    My husband and I have now witnessed family members who have always been anti-Catholic posting articles on facebook about how awesome Pope Francis is for washing feet of HIV/Aids victims or in prisons. Let's take the positive reporting for what it is...knowing full well, this is what the Church (and previous Popes) have always done.

    Each Pope has brought to the Church what was needed for the times. This time is no different.

  3. Again - awesome. And when you said, "our closing song today will be "Lean on Me," I was almost rolling on the floor laughing - a corny expression but true. It was only funny because it's true!

  4. Agree 100%: not either/or, but both/and.

    Just a small point of clarification: I believe the traditional location is the Lateran, not St. Peter's: "the Holy Father Francis...will go to celebrate the Mass of the Lord’s Supper at the Casal del Marmo youth detention centre instead of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, where it had been traditionally held in past years." (VIS article, quoted by Fr. Z)

    Fr. Zuhlsdorf goes on to mention the following:
    "Apparently the Mass of the Last Supper was to be at the Vatican Basilica. Perhaps this was because Francis had not formally taken possession of his Cathedral, St John Lateran. That throws a new dimension into his decision. Since he wasn’t going to be at the Lateran anyway, why not…"

    1. Thanks David - as I was typing the post I thought to myself "It is St. Peter's isn't?"...but alas I was too lazy to go check.

  5. You must give great homilies! Thanks for expressing so well what so many of us are thinking. I'm so grateful that you mentioned "beauty" regarding celebrating the Mass. That is what has been missing during the "Lean on me" years. (Burlap vestments"..really?) Wherever Mass is celebrated, it should be as beautiful as possible. How can anyone object to that? God bless you, Father! Awesome post.

  6. You brought up an interesting point, Father. Teens love the traditional masses. We have been looking a several churches to become our home church. When we asked our 4 youngest kids what they preferred (since 3 of them still need Confirmation), they all said Holy Rosary Latin Mass! They really love the seriousness, and don't like bongo drums in the church!

  7. Hey man, don't be hatin' on Bill Withers!