Like Pope Francis? You’ll Love Jesus – Washington Post

I love this opinion piece by Elizabeth Tenety of the Washington Post , of all places.

Check it:  Like Pope Francis?  You’ll Love Jesus.

This is the most sensible reading on the way people are reacting to Pope Francis that I have seen.  There is so much that is quotable.

These are the forces that see Francis as a progressive reformer, a long-awaited Catholic antidote to the religious right. None of that theological or doctrinal stuff, thank you. Just give us the humble pontiff, not like the other guy with his high-church pomp and fancy red shoes. Francis — the pope who kissed a man disfigured by a gruesome disease! The one who lives in humble quarters! The pope who took it to trickle-down economics! By critiquing the excesses of religion and politics — a criticism that resonates in media circles — Francis has given the press permission to change its narrative about the church.

But woe to those who remake the pope in their own image. If you focus only on what you like about Francis’s papacy — whatever makes you feel comfortable and smug about your own religious and political convictions — you’re doing it wrong. And you’re not seeing the real Francis.

It makes me laugh to see the liberal left gushing over how much they LOVE this pope.  How FINALLY there is a pope who makes them proud to have been raised Catholic.  Pope Francis, I’m sorry to have to tell you, is still operating within the confines of Church doctrine.  The funny thing is, is that if they cared enough about the faith in the first place they would see that.  But what most of these people do is read a few headlines or hear a talking head on MSNBC and they think they know it all.

Maybe try actually reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church or showing up at a Mass.  Heck, there’s always that big book on the coffee table…you know the one?  The Bible?  There’s lots of good stuff in there too.

And just so I’m not accused of not being even-handed…

Thus, the concern on the right that Francis is some sort of liberal relativist, a leftist political organizer in a papal mitre, seems overblown. If he’s a religious revolutionary, he is so no more than Jesus was.

So when Rush Limbaugh, that great arbiter of true Christianity, says that what’s coming out of the pope’s mouth is “pure Marxism ,” when Sarah Palin frets that Francis is “kind of liberal” and when Fox News’s Adam Shaw calls him “the Catholic Church’s Obama ,” they’re just distorting the secular left’s dreams into their own worst nightmares.

Both left and right need to wake up. Francis is, at his heart, a spiritual leader. His mission may have political implications, but he has come to serve God, not to advance the platform of the Democratic Party — and it’s presumptuous to imagine otherwise. Even in discussions of economic inequality, Francis sees the primacy of the faith: “I am firmly convinced that openness to the transcendent can bring about a new political and economic mindset that would help to break down the wall of separation between the economy and the common good of society,” he writes in “Evangelii Gaudium.” Oh, my: Sounds like Francis believes in trickle-down transcendence.

I love Rush Limbaugh and Sarah Palin, but they too are not practicing Catholics.  You can’t listen to any pope only through the filter of your political convictions.  His job is to lead us to live a better life and get to heaven; to try to follow Jesus as best that we can.  It makes me uncomfortable when ANYONE on either side of the fence starts critiquing something they don’t fully understand.

There’s more…

If Francis is a radical, it is like this: By speaking the language of the common person in the year 2013, in his awareness of the inspirational power of grand, symbolic gestures, through his call for everyday Catholics to embrace the simple, radical mandates of their baptism, Francis is awakening a world that was becoming dead to Christianity. If he’s breaking new ground, it’s because he’s discovered an effective way to call people to Christ.

Quoting Pope Benedict, Francis declares that “being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.” That person is God.

Don’t worry if you’ve misread Francis till now, or projected your own political projects or fears onto him. Francis, after all, attends confession every two weeks. He believes in repentance.

Go and sin no more.

Pope Francis has a different style than Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI or Pope John Paul II.  They all were called by the Church for their time.  The message remains the same…maybe everyone should try actually hearing it.

The Holy Father has just fervently declared his support for Benedict XVI’s vision of the Church, and has issued a clear rejection of the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ |

The Holy Father has just fervently declared his support for Benedict XVI’s vision of the Church, and has issued a clear rejection of the so-called ‘Spirit of Vatican II’ |

This is important, especially for those who are to either the far right or the far left.  Pope Francis is not the “anti-pope” the far right portray him to be, nor is he the “liberal pope” those on the left are so gushingly certain that he is.

He himself has said that he is a “son of the Church.”  And with this published piece, shows that he and Benedict XVI are on the same page.

Sorry to disappoint.  This letter to Archbishop Marchetto might be about the interpretation of Vatican II, but it does give a clarity to where he stands.

Pope Francis’s style might be different, but his faith in the teaching of the Catholic Church isn’t.  All he has been saying is that people need to know that God loves them…first and foremost.  This is all some people need to hear.  And when they hear that they become interested in growing closer to Him and all that entails.  People who are honestly seeking the Lord will want to do what He wants of them, not try to make their shortcomings part of the doctrine or teaching.

We all sin, in big and little ways.  We all do things that don’t meet up with God’s expectations.  Humility is the first step in the journey.

Peace on Earth…or Not?

“I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing! There is a baptism with which I must be baptized, and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. From now on a household of five will be divided, three against two and two against three; father will be divided against his son and a son against his father, a mother against her daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:49-53) 

“Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?”

That’s Jesus talking, folks.  This reading was from Sunday Mass almost two weeks ago, but it’s been on my mind since I heard it.  People usually like to put forth a picture of Jesus as some sort of namby-pamby nice guy who wants us to tolerate everything and…of course…not judge.  Sounds to me like He wants us to pick a side and if we tick off someone in the process, no matter who it is…oh well.  

That’s rough sometimes, especially if you are someone who likes to avoid confrontation.  But, in the final analysis, when it comes right down to it, we need to decide who we’re going to serve.  Trust me I know from experience, you don’t even have to say anything and people will figure out who you are and if you’re not “going with the flow” (i.e. the culture, the politics, the mainstream) it’s going to…well, to put it bluntly…piss off someone.  It’s not easy to be misinterpreted, blamed, shamed or hated because of what you believe.  The conflict between loving everyone and living according to a set of principles and beliefs can cause sleepless nights and sadness.  

When I heard this reading, it was freeing.  Jesus Himself said that He has come to bring division…division.  It was a realization that it’s exactly right for separations to happen.  They’re supposed to happen.  It’s a given.  He said so.

Now, that being said…He didn’t say anything about hating those on the other side of the fence.  Loving others doesn’t always mean that you’re going to be meeting for coffee at Starbucks and having a nice, long chat.  It doesn’t mean that you can even be in the same room.  But, it does mean that you can wish them well and that God’s will be done in their life.  You can pray for them…in fact, maybe you should pray for them.  

It drives me a little crazy when people, some of whom aren’t exactly real familiar with Jesus or His teachings, like to tell you that He says we’re not supposed to judge.  “Judge not, lest ye be judged” is the one verse that everyone seems to remember when another is taking a stand.  Well, guess what?  It means that we’re not the ones responsible for deciding who is going to Heaven or hell.  That is God’s job alone.  Matthew 7:1-5 is more a commentary on hypocrisy.  In other words, you need to be aware of your own shortcomings before pointing out someone else’s.

 “Stop judging, that you may not be judged. For as you judge, so will you be judged, and the measure with which you measure will be measured out to you. Why do you notice the splinter in your brother’s eye, but do not perceive the wooden beam in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove that splinter from your eye,’ while the wooden beam is in your eye? You hypocrite, remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother’s eye.”  Matthew 7:1-5

I don’t see anything there about not being able to call a sin a sin.  

If you choose to follow where you believe you are being led, be prepared not to be understood or liked.  It goes with the territory.   Be not afraid….

Crossdressing camp for boys as young as six draws criticism from Christian leaders |

Crossdressing camp for boys as young as six draws criticism from Christian leaders |

This makes me so desperately sad and feeling hopeless of ever having our world go back to a sense of normalcy.  This is child abuse.

What is bad is good and what is good is bad…God help us.


Costly Weddings Could Be Crippling for New Marriages

Costly weddings could be crippling for new marriages :: Catholic News Agency (CNA).

I read the above referenced article this morning with great interest.  This notion has been nagging at me and this article hits all the nails on the head.

“I think the celebrities have set the bar very, very high with all these hyped-up, high profile, highly photographed weddings, very extravagant events.” When couples want the “big, dream wedding,” he added, “often it’s very unrealistic.”

This…this right here!  Look, I’m not begrudging anyone the money they make or how they spend it, but this attitude has more to do than with just weddings.  It’s the problem with this whole country!  We give too much attention to celebrities…some of whom have less than admirable lifestyles…than to forming our own consciences and values.  Plus, not having a firm grasp on the reality of our own state in life, blurs what’s really important on this very momentous occasion.

I love to watch a Say Yes to the Dress marathon on TLC as much as anyone else.  And please…I’m a big fan of David Tutera’s My Fair Wedding.  I think most girls dream of their wedding day and want to feel like a princess.  But maybe there should be a TLC show that depicts preparing for the marriage as well.  This portion of the event is sadly lacking in wedding preparation coverage.  No amount of table arrangements and costly dinners will help you be ready to share your life with another human being.

A wedding is a day…a marriage is a lifetime.  I think it’s less than smart to start off your life together deeply in debt for a party.  Maybe it’s time for a turn around to more thoughtful, more meaningful weddings than the big blowout, let’s-impress-all-our-friends extravaganza.  Life takes twists and turns that no one expects and a little thought to how you might face them would better prepare you than a filet mignon dinner.

As long as we’re watching TV, flip over to HGTV some time and watch another marathon of House Hunters.  Couple after couple are putting off marriage in order to buy a house together.  The emphasis is on the “thing” rather than on their lives.  This always makes me sad.  A girl says yes, not to the dress, but to the 4 bedroom house that they can barely afford.  And you can almost see the hope in her eyes that now that the house has been purchased, the ring can’t be far behind.  If they are expecting to spend the average $30,000 on a wedding and make the house payment…good luck.  The order is all confused.

There is nothing wrong with a small, intimate gathering of family and close friends.  Back in my parents’ day, these were more common and everyone went back to the family home for a reception after church.  I was lucky in that my parents paid for my wedding, but even then, it wasn’t extravagant.  However, more people came up to my father and told him how much they enjoyed themselves.  The emphasis was on being with the people we cared about and less on trying to dazzle them.

As a contrast, check out this article and the photo of a couple that has gone viral.  The groom wanted to take a few moments to pray with his bride before their wedding.  If you read their story, I’d say that they really have a handle on what’s important.  Virginia Couple Prays Before Wedding

I look at my only daughter who is just 14 and I get sucked into the dream of a splashy wedding too.  I want her to be happy on her special day and for her to feel like a princess.  But, I don’t know that I will be in a position to give her those things.  What I hope I can give her is the idea that the person she promises herself to and their life together will mean more to her than a $10,000 dress that she’ll wear only once.