The Pope baptized an infant (along with plenty of others) on the Feast of the Baptism of Jesus, and folks have once again gone psychotic in one form or another because *gasp* the parents of this child were not married in the Church.
WHY IS THIS NEWS?
For the love of all that's holy, people, Pope Francis is not Christ come back to Earth (and he's not the anti-Christ, either, for you folks wagging your heads at his supposed lack of decency). He did what he did as a priest in Argentina... he did what priests and deacons all over the world do on a weekly basis; he exercised his vocation and gave himself over to God to be used as a conduit for Divine Grace. He welcomed a child into our Family. He brought God's blessing down on that child in the Name of the Blessed Trinity and encouraged family and friends alike to bear faithful witness to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pope Francis was not, as I've seen some suggest, blessing civil marriages as if they were equal to sacramental unions. He was not acting blasphemous by recognizing the inheritance this baby was due as a child of God. Regardless of a person's background - ALL are welcome to the flood of grace God wishes to reign down upon us. We were all created SPECIFICALLY to be His children forever.
I mean, are you seriously going to look God in the eye and say, "Nope, God. This kid doesn't have two sacramentally married parents. You CAN'T want to baptize her, right?"
GAH! The audacity. That's exactly what you're saying when you complain about Pope Francis baptizing her! SHAMEFUL.
Also, Pope Francis was not, as others have suggested, being some sort of social prophet by his actions. It is very doubtful he baptized that child to condemn the Church's stance on the traditional family. It's also very doubtful he was trying to cause any waves or be the beacon for social justice folks are clamoring so hard for him to be.
He acted as any priest should have - he acted with love and a deep respect for his God-given vocation. May that child grow to love and honor God and His Church, and may the Pope's encouragement strengthen her parent's resolve to reconcile themselves with the same Church they professed their desire to graft their daughter into.
It's beginning to drive me insane - from both ends of the spectrum! Folks are hating on him for being "untraditional enough" and then others are lavishing praise on him as if every pontiff before him was a baffoon. It's ridiculous.
On the heels of that, there's this little button thingie (and others like it) going around that was commented at least a dozen times on various threads about the above story.
NO, NO, NO, NO and NO.
The Blessed Mother was NOT an unwed mother. Stop spreading this. Correct anyone you see posting it. It's NOT TRUE.
I've posted about this before, but it obviously bears repeating:
She wasn't unwed, though a lot of people misunderstand that.
In being "betrothed" to St. Joseph, she was married under Jewish Law. Jewish marriage was a two step process back then. Betrothal (important part) and then public witness (formality). Kinda like us with our Church ceremony and then shipping off our papers to the town hall with the signatures of our witnesses.
Betrothal was so binding that upon completion of the betrothal ceremony (which Mary and Joseph took part in), the woman was considered a wife (and hence if we follow the language used in the gospel of Matthew back to its roots, we see that he does, in fact, use the term "gyne" or "wife" for Mary after she and Joseph are betrothed in the Temple).
Besides, God specifically sets forth laws for us to follow. He wouldn't break the rules for Himself, especially since He came to serve as our example on how to fulfill the law faithfully in every respect.
It is simply through present-day misunderstand of ancient Jewish custom that we believe the Blessed Mother to have been an unwed mother.
So please - stop posting the memes about the Blessed Mother being unwed. If you see others posting the memes, enlighten them.
Finally, a plea from a parent who happens to still believe in the saying "It takes a village to raise a child."
While I was in the waiting room of the Emergency Room a few days ago, I witnessed an incident that STILL has me absolutely baffled.
A mother and father were sitting one row ahead of me. They had a gorgeous little girl of maybe 18 months of age. She was toddling all over the place, but walking was apparently new for her given how much she'd fall.
Her father got up and left (where he went is anyone's guess) and her mother was on her cell phone. The little girl was walking all over the waiting room, and given how much she was toppling over, I sorta kept an eye on her in case she hurt herself. Her mother wasn't paying any attention to where she was walking. She was on her phone the entire time I saw her.
The little girl toddled over to an elderly man in a wheelchair. As soon as he saw her, his face lit up and he said, "Hey baby! Hi there. Want to give me five?" and he held out his hand to her. She looked at him with the biggest smile and immediately went over to interact. Just as she was about to reach him, she fell over. The elderly man immediately reached down to scoop her up - and it obviously hurt him to do so. As he set her back on her feet, she let out a big squeal. It's that sound babies make when they're really excited and half giggling about something.
I guess that sound made it through her mother's cell phone conversation, because she finally got up to see where her daughter had wandered off to. When she came around the column (which was blocking her view of her daughter), she noticed the elderly man patting her on the head.
While STILL having the conversation on the cell phone, she angrily looked at the older man and shook her head "No" while dragging (physically DRAGGING) the little girl away. She didn't even look at her daughter. She just glared at the elderly man and yanked her back behind the column.
A few moments later, her boyfriend / husband / whatever walked in and sat next to the mother. Again, mom is STILL on the phone, but tells that person to "hold on" so she can relay what happened with the man in the wheelchair. She proceeds to tell him that the "creepy old guy" was "grabbing our daughter." He got angry and said, "Where? Who is he?" and she starts saying "He's behind the column."
I saw where this was leading, so I immediately got up, walked over to them and said, "I'm sorry to interrupt, but I just wanted to let you know that he was only helping your daughter up. She fell in front of his wheelchair, and he just helped her to her feet."
She shot me an angry look, but the man she was with said, "Oh, okay. Thanks."
Mother-of-the-Year went right back to talking on the phone as I made my way back to my seat.
A few minutes later, dad was telling his daughter she can't go near strange men because they would take her away and rape her.
This child was MAYBE 18 months old. I would hope she has no clue what rape is. And what in God's name is he attempting to scare her off men like that for??? He SHOULD have been reprimanding his partner for letting the little girl wander off in the first place. He SHOULD have been telling her to put the phone away and giving the little girl any semblance of attention. Instead, he scares his little girl into thinking every male in the universe is a bad guy seeking to kidnap / sexually abuse her.
And all the elderly guy - IN A WHEELCHAIR - was trying to do was be helpful. All he wanted to do was help a little girl up and make her smile.
I'm all for teaching kids that they need to be aware of their surroundings and who they're with, but c'mon. This is ridiculous. We need to recognize the good in people.
The last few days had me on a huge pro-Pope Francis kick. His support of pro-traditional marriage rallies in the US, his strong statements defending life in the womb, and his suggestion that the Eucharist be received while kneeling - all of this had me going "WOO HOO! I was wrong! Pope Francis is actually EXACTLY what I was hoping he'd be!"
I read it, and then I re-read it. I e-mailed it to myself (and a friend), and then I re-read it again.
The premise is that Pope Francis doesn't give out Communion because he's basically afraid of being caught passing along the Eucharist to a sinner vying for a photo-op.
Am I the only one who has inner alarm bells going:
All popes are priests, right? The MAIN JOB of a priest, regardless of if he's called to be a pastor, cardinal or even Bishop of Rome is to "feed the sheep."
Remember that whole "Hey Peter, you're gonna feed My sheep, right?" business back in John 21:17?
Jesus stressed the importance of feeding His flock - the Church. Feeding and tending the flock is ensuring that we, the Church, are given Jesus in both Body and Spirit. The Eucharist is Christ, fully incarnate (that's what "Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity" means!). Priests were SPECIFICALLY created in order to consecrate and distribute this sacred Sacrament, and Pope Francis shirks this responsibility because he's afraid he might accidentally give the Eucharist to someone unworthy?!
By that rationale, I guess I should stop giving money to homeless people because one of them might use it for drugs!
Maybe I shouldn't donate money to the Starving Children fund, either, because I'm suspicious the administrators of that program are just using poor children as a front for their own greedy ends...
Do you see my issue with this terribly poor rationale?
I get that he doesn't want to be connected with distributing the Eucharist to those who would cause scandal by their reception. However, giving up his priestly duty is, in my mind, a very cowardly way to go about handling this situation.
He just urged his brother bishops in Argentina to withhold the Eucharist from known pro-abortion candidates. When I saw that, I again rejoiced thinking, "Right on, Pope Francis!"
So imagine my surprise when I see that instead of taking his own advice, he bypasses the entire problem by allowing others to preside over the issue for him. Is he saying that it's okay for other priests to distribute Communion to scandalous folks because they're not as important as him?
Look... no one is really worthy to receive the Eucharist. No one. By some extreme grace, God humbles Himself and allows us avenues with which we can use to prepare ourselves for this gift. Some of us make use of these avenues, some of us don't. As the pontiff has expressed, there's really no way of knowing who has prepared himself and who has not. It's not the priest's job to attempt sorting out the sinners from the saints. His job is simply to distribute the Eucharist in good faith to those who present themselves.
However, if he DOES know that a person is in the state of mortal sin and is presenting himself/herself for Communion, he's got a moral obligation to refuse for several reasons:
Yes, it takes a lot of guts to refuse Communion to folks like this. Obviously it's going to create an uproar, and yes, you're definitely going to take some serious heat for it.
But ya know what? That's exactly what we need right now.
We need priests like this to highlight the gift that is our Eucharist. Too often we turn a blind eye and allow the Eucharist to be sullied because we're not brave enough to stand up and say "No!"
Instead, we timidly hand over Christ to the wretched soul who abuses His purity and all for what? To spare ourselves the awkward moment of reflection? To spare ourselves the spotlight of social reproach?
Pope Francis, feed your sheep. Feed us with the Bread of Life, and feed us by your example. You're doing and saying some really wonderful things, but if you're not doing this most basic responsibility as our shepherd, there is something severely wrong.
My prayers, holy pontiff, and the prayers of all the faithful... may they surround you and lift you to the Throne of God.
EDIT: I encourage everyone to read through the commentary as well. So many great points have been raised that are worthy of your attention. They are critical of my viewpoint, but deservedly so. I think this is an extremely worthwhile discussion, so please avail yourselves of the various perspectives. And as always - don't forget to ask the Holy Spirit for His Thoughts, either! *Grin*
Some of you may already be aware of this, but for those of you who aren't, Pope Francis made the decision to have the Mass of the Lord's Supper outside St. Peter's Basilica this Holy Thursday.
I'll be honest. I'm not happy about this. I'm not happy about this at all.
Before you start calling me a Pope Francis hater, let me explain.
Holy Thursday Mass is the kickoff of our most sacred season - Triduum. This is the Mass in which we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders - two Sacraments that exist for one another. Without one, the other cannot exist. Priests are ordained specifically to bring the Eucharist to their people, and the Eucharist exists only on account of those men blessed to be ordained for the duty.
Holy Thursday Mass is no thing to trifle with. Being such a sacred and blessed time in our history, this specific celebration deserves to be treated in the most dignified and respectful manner. Offering this Mass in St. Peter's is what has been done as tradition because, frankly, this Mass is worthy of St. Peter's. If no other Mass is offered in St. Peter's for the rest of the year, THIS ONE SHOULD BE.
I mean, if the Church dictates that Catholic marriage ceremonies not take place outside a church, how is it suddenly OK to have THE MOST IMPORTANT MASS OF THE YEAR in a juvenile prison?!
I get what he's trying to do. He's really big into humility and publicly showing folks that it's necessary and important to care for "the least among us. I'm all for that!
I am not, however, all for neglecting to pay Christ and His Sacraments homage in the manner dictated to us by Tradition (one of our three pillars of Church Authority). I feel this is a misstep on the part of our new Pontiff. It is really disappointing to me. As a Church, God gifted us things like the Basilica of St. Peter specifically so we COULD celebrate with splendor the very special graces afforded to us through the Eucharist and Holy Orders.
I can't help but think he's a little too gung-ho with this whole "Let's toss all tradition aside so I can prove to the public that as the newly elected leader of the Church, I turn away from finer things and ignore past traditions" in an attempt to regain the trust of a very jaded and unhappy world.
Again, I don't think his reasoning is terrible. I really don't. I think we really do need someone to stand up and put an end to the ridiculousness going on in the Church. That being said, we should not be throwing the baby out with the bathwater.
We're talking about JESUS and His institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders. This is Holy Thursday Mass.. the beginning of our Triduum - the opening Mass that sets the stage for Good Friday and Holy Saturday. To offer it in a detention center where you'd only fit a handful of people (successfully closing off the service to the crowds that would have been able to gather in St. Peter's) and replacing the retired priests with children to have their feet washed... I just feel like this is going three steps too far on the "Look how humble and willing to buck tradition I am, so don't worry, the Church will be back to its humble and poor-loving self soon" scale.
Holy Father, I'm praying for you because you've got quite the job to do. I pray you're able to clean up the mess you've been left and I'm still hoping your intentions on this are pure and true. Your decision, however, has truly, truly unsettled me. My heart is not at ease.
And I realize I'm the odd man out for calling out this decision since your reasons seem so justifiable. You want to serve the "least among us" and the societal "rejects." You choose troubled children, and how can anyone take issue with such an endearing and gentle display of charity?
I get that I'm in the minority on this, but I can't help but express my discontent, especially given that the washing of the feet is an act Jesus used specifically to prepare and ordain his chosen 12 for their priestly duties. The tradition of washing the feet of retired priests was a beautiful symbol of and testament to this fact!
And also keep in mind Our Lord's appreciation for the woman's actions at Bethany. She poured the entire contents of extremely expensive perfume over Christ to anoint Him. Judas grumbled at her "wastefulness," but Jesus defended her for her actions. She was blessed with something special by God, and she wanted to give back without thought to cost. She simply wanted to offer the finest of what she had to He who had given her so much.
This is a righteous action in the Eyes of the Lord. This is not wasteful and it is not prideful and it is not arrogant. It is taking the gifts God granted and using them to shower splendor and blessings back upon Him. All that we have - all that we are - are meant to honor and glorify the Lord. She did just that, even though some accused her of extravagance.
Oh, Holy Father, my heart breaks at the thought of relegating this most sacred Mass to a jail cell that is barren of sacred relics, sacred artwork, sacred vessels, and even the legions of faithful who would gather to celebrate the Lord's Supper. If we do not allow for such a thing to occur with marriages, how can we allow such a thing to happen for Holy Thursday Mass?
In a place that is already barren of Catholicism, how will those children come to understand the importance of the procession after Holy Thursday Mass where the sanctuary is stripped of its ornamentation, artwork and finery... sentenced to suffer the same death and tomb of Her Eternal Bridegroom? These traditions are in place because they are important... they are educational... and they are pleasing to God because this is the manner in which He saw fit to remind us of His Sacrifice so that we might grow closer to His Heart of Love.
The thought of this brings actual tears to my eyes. This seems wrong. Everything about this seems wrong, wrong, wrong. My heart cannot quiet its echoing cry of discontent.
Respectfully, Susan Sarandon, you're a fool.
Calling Pope Benedict a Nazi because he was forced into the same Hitler Youth programs that every other boy his age was drafted into is like saying a rape victim (who was forced into a sexual act she had no say over) is a whore.
And then to hold a double standard regarding Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict simply because you've deluded yourself into thinking you had a personal relationship with the former just shows how daft you are.
Just because you had your panties in a bunch doesn't give you the right to slander someone in so vile a manner. Adults who are angry should be able to express that anger in a dignified, logical manner.
Apparently you need a script to act like an adult.
Mattie, a reader, started an avalanche of thought for me last week. Ever since, I've kinda been on the hunt for answers to the many questions that've come from her simple, "Can ya just go get IVF?"
The short answer is No - for a variety of reasons.
IVF is considered immoral by the Church. Every child deserves the right to begin life at conception through the loving embrace of both parents who are in a stable, dignified and ordered marriage. In fact, a beautiful quote from the Church in Her DONUM VITAE states as much:
The child has the right to be conceived... to be the fruit of the specific act of the conjugal love of his parents; and he also has the right to be respected as a person from the moment of his conception.
That, my friends, is true respect. That is dignity. To acknowledge the right exists, even before this tiny person comes into existence, for a loving, sacred and nurturing place of refuge proves the respect and care Catholics take in our role as stewards of life.
This is why the Church so staunchly defends marriage and sexuality. These two unalienable gifts from God are the building blocks of healthy procreation. It is through the ordered marriage relationship that true sexuality reaches fulfillment - that fulfillment being the union of husband and wife and thus the creation of the physical, living sign of their love - children.
These children, having been created in the ordered and sacred manner in which God decreed, will be blessed to grow up in an ordered, loving household in which their own development can best be discovered, ordered and reach fulfillment.
This is not to say, however, that children from single-parent households, children of rape, children of adoption, etc cannot grow up to reach their full, ordered potential. Through the grace of God, anything is possible, and He certainly loves these cherished souls as much as those co-created in the marriage embrace. However, He desired that we order ourselves in the aforementioned manner because it is through this ordering that we afford our children the best chance for emotional, psychological and spiritual stability.
Thus, IVF (specifically the act of joining a sperm and an egg in a laboratory setting) is considered immoral because it removes this dignity and order from the person(s) created.
Credit: Glassanos - Click image for info
However, this leaves a really big question wide open, and the Church has yet to get entrenched in the details.
After answering the above question for Mattie, my mind traveled down the rabbit hole a bit farther. Since IVF has already been utilized countless times by infertile couples looking to have children, what happens to all the embryos created that are simply frozen in time?
There's no easy answer for this - and I've looked!
I've taken several key folks to task over this. Priests, two professional theologians, an incredibly smart and spiritually sound couple, and a smattering of ordinary lay-Catholics who have been touched by issues of infertility, adoption and even eugenics. None were able to provide a concrete answer because as of yet, there simply isn't one.
The married couple, however, provided the best resource I've yet seen on this! My special thanks to them for their incomparable knowledge and willingness to share that knowledge with others. I link it here for your own illumination.
In it, you will find two heavy-weight Catholic ethicists duke the issue out at a bioethics conference late last year.
Though I take issue with the attempt of Father Pacholczyk to denigrate the discussion into one of spousal rights (since this isn't so much about fertilization so much as adoption of a life that's already been created), what he says about causing us to tumble down a slippery slope is certainly a concern I agree with.
However, most of what Dr. Smith relays (comparing this to adoption / breastfeeding) falls right in line with my own views.
As a person who believes that God opens a window every time we close the door on ourselves through sin, I can't help but wonder if embryo adoption is God's way of answering the problem we created through the sin of IVF.
This is a question that, as of yet, has no real answers. As one of the women I talked to put it, though, I'd be hard-pressed to condemn a married couple who bore a child in this manner. Granted, I'd be hard-pressed to condemn anyone for anything, but I digress.
I can't help but wonder if God allowed infertile married couples to exist specifically so they could answer the call of these poor children stuck in a frozen limbo.
Pope Benedict XVI
I didn't even realize that popes COULD resign. I thought the chair of Peter was one of those things that, once given, could not be "given back" until death.
Apparently I was mistaken. Popes can, in fact, resign, and apparently plenty have made arrangements (resignation letters, discussions with confessors, etc) in the event that such a step would become necessary as a result of illness or political strife.
When I read this article, I have to admit feeling like a jerk. Why? Well, our current Pope tends to rekindle my shameful reaction to his election as the successor to Pope John Paul II. He assumed the Papacy in April of 2005. I was 22, then, and was still in my "Eh... I know better than the Church" mode. I adored Pope John Paul II, and truly believed him to be a saint on earth. However, I didn't really follow Vatican news, and I certainly didn't care much to learn about the potential replacements for JPII. I mean, Pope John Paul II was the only pope I'd ever known (having been born in 83, JPII had been in office for about 5 years already). Consenting to accept Benedict as his replacement felt like a betrayal. I don't know if I assumed JPII would live forever or what, but the thought of anyone even attempting to fill a saint's shoes was ridiculous to me. And this guy (who in my opinion looked grumpy and slightly evil) was the guy they chose to replace him? C'mon now.
For years I held onto my stupid "opinion" of the new pontiff. I understood my stance to be mean and foolish, but I didn't care. I arrogantly grumbled about Pope Benedict XVI, never once looking into his background to find justification for my grumblings. I think I knew I wouldn't find much to justify my stupidity, so why ruin a good thing, right? *Shakes head*
Hence the source of my embarrassment. To think I was so mean about Pope Benedict XVI makes my heart hurt. After all, the Holy Spirit chose him for a reason, right? I hadn't come across Mutter Vogl's revelations regarding how we should never bad-mouth priests, so I didn't have the same twinge of "Oh my gosh, that's really, REALLY awful" when verbal ill-treatment of our new pontiff was waged, but I understood that my stance was completely (and willingly) unfounded, so when I had my "reversion" and was forced to learn more about Pope Benedict XVI and his work, I quickly realized my grievous error and now have a soft spot for him.
He had such a love for Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI's teachings truly reflect a brilliant, loving mind that is dedicated to upholding the values of our faith. I have come to admire him and even respect and love him for his courage and unrelenting support of the Truth.
So when I read today that there was a possibility of him resigning, I felt a little stab in my heart. Almost a "No, no, no, Father! Not when I just started warming up to you! Not when I finally realize everything you are and everything you have the potential to become!" Granted, a selfish stab in my heart, but a stab nonetheless. Then I felt a secondary stab that reflected my compassion for him. That decision would have to be extremely difficult on him as well, and no doubt he'd make it with a fully sober and prayerful mind. If he ever reaches the point where he feels incapable of leading the Church, no doubt he'd relinquish his position with a heavy heart... possibly feeling somewhat dejected for his fear that he had disappointed his Lord.
Oh, Pope Benedict... know that you are held in a perpetual hug by those of the faithful. May you find the will necessary to forge forward in your earthly pilgrimage. May you feel the Divine Strength of the Holy Spirit guiding every step you take. May you hear the Heartbeat of Jesus as He hugs you close to Himself to comfort you. And finally, may you see the maternal protection of Our Lady surround all you do. She is your greatest advocate, dear Father. May we, the faithful, be blessed to have you reign for many, many years.
My current love for him shames my previous arrogance towards him and I almost want to cry for such ignorance. I truly pray that I someday atone for such arrogant behavior.
And just because it's fitting, here's a link that might be viewed as hilarious if it weren't so true...
BVM "teaching" Jesus to pray
Now that I'm back from vacation, I can post en masse.
Saturday's topic? Pope Benedict's apology lamenting "cradle Catholics" who haven't shared their faith with subsequent generations.
As is typical, our Holy Father is spot on.
This is a particulalry thorny issue for me, especially now that I'm taking charge of a CCD class and moving "full-steam-ahead" into evangelization.
A few months ago, I was given the opportunity to share some ideas regarding children within the parish during what we called "Open Forum" nights. I was sadly the only person from my age group to attend, but it was a worthwhile night anyway. I asked the others who were there what function the Youth Group served within the parish. No one could tell me. All they said was "Well, they do a car wash" or "The do a Mass once in a while." So I stated (for the Holy Spirit, I think):
How can we expect them to know their value in the parish if we don't?
And it's true! Children are SO eager and SO full of love that they'd happily bend over backwards to feel useful. So it is OUR job to harness that potential and direct it in a positive, life-affirming way. It is our job as parents, educators, community leaders, etc to define their roles and encourage participation in our faith. Something as simple as having the Youth Group lead the Monday night Rosary would have such a lasting effect!
But we don't do these things. We ignore an entire category of parishoners because of their age... because of their lack of perceived value! How foolish we are!
And as Pope Benedict points out, it goes even farther than that. How many of us have witnessed parents pushing their way into a foreign parish to enable the baptism of their baby only to never set foot inside a church again? How many couples move mountains to enable a Catholic Nuptial Mass only to ignore every other aspect of our faith? How many parents drop their children off to CCD classes only to ignore the greatest expression of our faith, the Mass, every Sunday??? Worst of all, maybe, how many times have we... fully vested Catholics who understand and love our faith... not practiced the day-to-day profession of faith in our actions? How many times have we not followed the most basic of Catholic principles, to love thy neighbor as thyself? All of these things have deprived our youth of truly understanding and appreciating the Catholic faith, and we've only ourselves to blame.
Seriously... we need to do better at acknowledging the value of our children and encouraging them to take part in all the beauty our faith has to offer. We need to do better at holding ourselves accountable for our role in depleting respect, awe and understanding of Catholicism.
Pope Benedict was kind in "apologizing" on behalf of Catholics everywhere. It opens the door to a mirror which reflects our own sad truth back at us, and acknowledges the pervasive, growing problem of lack-luster Catholics... hopefully this gentle chide is enough to push us back on the path towards true evangelization.
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