The Use of Talking

There is no end of things in the heart.

Papist Musings

leave a comment »

Coat of arms of Pope FrancisA couple of days ago I wrote a post about Pope Francis that, luckily, I decided not to post. It was a rather curmudgeonly list of the things about the pope that displease me. It was not only curmudgeonly, it was ungenerous and presumptuous. So here’s a replacement for it.

I loved (and love) Benedict XVI. I loved his theological depth, his humility, and his focus on the liturgy. Pope Francis is a different kettle of fish entirely.

But here’s the thing(s): the First World’s loss of faith is snowballing, and among those who believe, in the U.S. at least, the Evangelical churches are filled with cradle Catholics.; even in the former Second World, faith seems to be receding (think Poland), while in Russia Orthodoxy seems to be returning to its traditional function as a department of the state. While Christian faith seems alive and growing, it often isn’t the Catholic faith. Evangelicals, Pentecostals, and sects like the Seventh-Day Adventists are flourishing. Why is that?

I think a good deal of the problem stems from the direction the church has been going in over the last fifty years, the shift away from the nub of faith to at best peripheral things: politics, self-help, a focus on subjectivity. If the First and Second Worlds as a whole are moving toward, those Evangelical ex-Catholics and Third World converts are looking for something more. They’re looking for Christ. But  many—so many—are looking to know that God in Christ loves them and died for them and has the power to transform their lives.

I realize that in the Third World things are more complicated. The poor are looking to escape from their poverty, and the middle-class values of the Evangelicals (not to mention the attempt to make everyone an American by the Mormons) and the prosperity gospel of the Pentecostals seem to offer a way out. And in the latter case, it doesn’t hurt that the spiritual gifts Pentecostal exercise are reminiscent of the possession experiences of sects such as Candomblé and Santeria

In my almost thirty years as a Catholic, I’ve sat through sermons that reduced the gospel to being kind to your neighbors or having dinner with your family or realizing what a wonderful person you are or, what’s worse, demythologizing the gospel and correcting St. Paul. (I have to admit that the situation, at least at my parish, has been steadily improving). It’s always astounded me that such banality (or worse) could be inserted between the
Word of God and the consecration..

So now I think I understand Pope Francis better. Like his namesake, he points to Christ in the poor and in the sacraments. Jesuit that he is, he proclaims the mercy of God. And he keeps  it simple: three points per sermon, in which Christ is at the center, preached in a way that all can understand.

The church exists to bring us to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit. If Francis helps her to do that, the all my cavils—and my snobbery—belong in the trash.

Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us.

Advertisements

Written by hans castorp

August 17, 2013 at 2:48 pm

Posted in Catholicism, Faith

Tagged with , ,

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: