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There’s a whole lotta talking and blogging going on about Pope Francis these days. And a whole lotta hand wringing and not a little name calling. And some people are actually listening to what the Pope is saying (not just to what someone says the Pope is saying) and some are actually troubling themselves to read his writing for themselves. Thanks be to God.

“Listen with the ear of your heart.” –The Rule of Saint Benedict.

Listen to the Pope. He’s not saying anything new. He’s not saying anything I haven’t heard other Popes or other priests and bishops say. For example, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen spoke about the ills of “unbridled capitalism” many years ago and said it was just as bad, just as much an error, as communism; and Pope Leo XIII wrote about these things in Rerum Novarum in 1891. Ignore the media who are determined to misunderstand and misrepresent what he says (or what any faithful Catholic says). And keep in mind, as I keep reminding myself, that Pope Francis is not Benedict XVI and he’s not John Paul II. He’s Francis and the man has his own style.

Read Evangelii Gaudium for yourself here or here. (PDF version here.)

Then check out what some actual faithful and knowledgeable Catholics say about it. I’ll add more links as I come across them.

I saw a video this morning and knew I had to share it here on the blog. In honor of all our fallen heroes who are gone but will never be forgotten, a video by Attraction Shadow Theatre Dancers. Grab a tissue, this gets me every time I watch it. Have a blessed Memorial Day.

Longer version of their audition. Performance only.

Pope FrancisAs so many of my compatriots, I speak only English so I’m still in the process of locating, collecting and reading what I can find in translation by and about our new Holy Father, Pope Francis. (And that is Pope Francis, not Pope Francis I, even though he is the first Pope named Francis. No need to distinguish him from any other Popes named Francis since there aren’t any.)

I grew up Methodist and knew absolutely nothing about Catholicism. I didn’t notice popes as they came and went. I didn’t pay attention when Pope John Paul II was elected, though he certainly caught my attention later. I paid some attention when Pope Benedict was elected but mostly I was still grieving the loss of his predecessor for whom I had developed a deep and abiding affection. And when Pope Benedict announced that he had renounced the Chair of Peter, I was truly astonished. When I watched him fly via helicopter away from the Vatican, I actually cried.

Grief morphed into hope as the time of the Conclave approached and I couldn’t stop watching and listening to the coverage provided by EWTN (and secular media when there was nothing else). After I watched the doors of the Sistine Chapel close, signaling the beginning of deliberations in earnest, my excitement began to build. By the time the white smoke was announced, I was ready to jump up and down and grab the nearest person to me for a hug. Which probably explains why the coffee shop I was sitting in, watching coverage on my iPad and listening on my phone–the coffee shop which was full when I got there–was strangely empty shortly after I heard the words, “Habemus Papam!”

Ahem.

I’d like to offer something profound in honor of our new Holy Father but my mind is nothing but a happy, excited mess right now. I can say that watching that humble, gentle man and listening to his soft, tender words, I began to feel a real affection for him. And something deeper than affection. When I realized that he was praying the Lord’s Prayer (even though he was praying in Italian; I’m still learning to say these prayers in Latin but thought I recognized the difference), I felt my heart expand in my chest and more tears came to my eyes. Our new Chief Shepherd was already leading his flock in prayer. (And that prayer was for his predecessor, Benedict XVI. When I heard that, more tears came.) Then before he gave us his blessing, he asked us to pray to the Lord for him.

I’m sure I will love this man more as time goes on. But right now it’s hard to see how this will be possible. I love him very much already. Habemus Papam! Viva il Papa!

First Pope from Latin America, First Jesuit Pope, First Pope Named Francis

Pope_Benedict_AshWednesdayMass_smI know everybody–and I mean, everybody!–has been talking about the Pope renouncing the Chair of Peter. I don’t have anything profound to offer. But I would like to offer a brief Lenten prayer for the Holy Father. In fact, I did offer it on Valentine’s Day via Twitter. (Most days if you don’t see a post here–and most days you won’t–you might catch me on Twitter if only for a few moments at a time.)

LentenPrayerfortheHolyFather_tweet

Pope Benedict, Holy Father, I love you and I’ll be praying for you. God bless you now and always. Amen.

Pope Benedict's Newest Encyclical
Pope Benedict's Newest Encyclical

Can’t wait for the hard print edition of Pope Benedict’s new encyclical, Caritas in Veritate? Well, you don’t have to! Download the e-book or the audiobook right now from Ignatius Press. Or get a free downloadable copy in HTML from EWTN’s Document Library or read some articles about the encyclical (also at EWTN).

When people who know nothing about the Catholic Church trash her, trash the Pope and trash everything they don’t understand, it makes my blood boil, as Saint Teresa of Avila would say. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read rude comments on the web denouncing Pope Benedict for his opinions and views on various social issues. As if these were simply his views or opinions. As if the Church would be completely different if it weren’t for his silly conservatism. Continue reading