We interrupt this broadcast to bring you a couple things that not only did not make me cringe, but also made me proud to call Francis “My Pope”. Either the exertion of enunciating such conventional Catholic wisdom gave him a cold, or the onset of a cold weakened him enough simply to read the script for a change. Either way… I’ll take it!
[UPDATE: The preceding two sentences are to be read with what is commonly referred to as “a sense of humor”, which, contrary to popular piety, is not actually a sin.* As Pope Francis himself recently preached, “When there is lots of seriousness, there is no Spirit of God”.]
“Let us seek the grace of memory, always. Looking forward, the Christian is a man, a woman of hope. And in this, the Christian follows the path of God and renews the covenant with God. He continually says to the Lord: ‘Yes, I want the commandments, I want your will, I will follow you’. He is a man of the covenant, and we celebrate the covenant, every day ” in the Mass: thus a Christian is “a woman, a man of the Eucharist”.“
““But how can we know Jesus?”, the Pontiff asked. The Pope agreed with those who answer that “we have to study much”. Here therefore invited everyone to “study the Catechism: a beautiful book, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, we must study it”. Yet he was quick to add that we cannot limit ourselves to “believing that we will know Jesus through study alone”. Indeed, there are some who “imagine that ideas and ideas alone will lead us to the knowledge of Jesus”. Even “among the early Christians” some thought in this way, and “they ended up a bit tangled up in their thoughts”. For “ideas alone do not give life”. Thus one who travels by this way “ends up in a labyrinth” from which “there is no way out”.
This is precisely why, from the beginning there were heresies in the Church that often involved “seeking to understand who Jesus is only with our minds”. Here the Pope recalled the words of the great British author G.K. Chesterton, who called heresy an idea gone mad. In effect, the Pope said, “this is how it is: when ideas are isolated and alone, they go mad”.“
Granted, the citation of Chesterton is probably a bit wonky, and one could argue he’s subtly denigrating the soundness of our rational faculties in favor an emotive “docility”, and this flash of Catholic clarity may just portend greater shocks to come, and it should be a given that the pope feeds his flock more than he confounds it–I heard all of these objections when I posted these quotations on my Facebook, and I’ve experienced them within myself at times in the past ten months, but… for now… I just really needed to hear things like this coming from Pope Francis.
Speaking of the Holy Father’s recent cold, believe it or not, I did say a slow, sincere, affectionate prayer for him and his recovery on all levels. Pray for the pope and for his intentions!
* “851. … Amusement does have an aspect of good inasmuch as it is useful for human living. As man sometimes needs to give his body rest from labors, so also he sometimes needs to rest his soul from mental strain that ensues from his application to serious affairs. This is done by amusement.” — Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Ethics of Aristotle, Book IV, Lecture 16, C. I. Litzinger, tr. (ND: Dumb Ox Press, 1993)