There were the activities of Holy Week in Rome. Holy Thursday at Saint John Lateran, Stations of the Cross on Good Friday evening, held on the viale outside the cavernous floodlit Colosseum, Easter Sunday at the Vatican. There had been that morning in Saint John's, when, through a mist of frankincense, a procession of skullcapped cardinals in scarlet robes, and priests and altar boys carrying elaborate candles and antique bronze crosses swept in toward the sacristy. And among them, as a choir sang and an organ shook the floors, Il Papa, John XXIII, blessed the crowd and, touching the heads of the faithful, laid his palm upon his son's brow.
Ives counts the above moment as one of the highlights of his son's short life. Ives believes something holy happened; he felt a surge of energy pass from John XXIII to his son and then him. He doesn't know what to call it. Grace? The Holy Spirit? God's goodness? Of course, as a Christian, I believe those three explanations are one and the same.
The United States is currently preparing for the first papal visit of Pope Francis. The newspapers are full of the details of his trip. Francis is going to address Congress and celebrate Mass. I don't know much else about his itinerary, but people (Catholic and non-Catholic alike) are incredibly excited.
I have to say that I really like Pope Francis. He does things that make people uneasy. He celebrates Maunday Thursday by washing the feet of Muslims in prison. He doesn't live in the papal apartment but in a simple room in a hotel attached to the Vatican where cardinals stay during papal conclaves. He hugs people, dispenses with formalities. He's not worried about being THE POPE. He's worried about simply loving people the way Christ did--without judgement or agenda.
I would say that Pope Francis' guiding principle is love. Particularly, he wants to make the world aware of social inequality. Of the poor and desperate. The unloved. That's the mission of his papacy. He goes around and tells people to love one another--Christian or Muslim, brown-skinned or white-skinned, straight or gay.
I try to live by that credo myself, and I usually fail miserably on a daily basis. I swear at other drivers when I'm in my car. I get irritated by people I encounter at work. I hold grudges. I'm not above talking about people behind their backs. In short, I'm human.
Sometimes I'm not a very lovable person. In the past month, I've been moody, angry, sad, indignant, worried, angry and sad again. Reading over my recent posts, I don't even know why people are still reading this blog. I've been wallowing, and it's not very attractive.
Yet, there are no limits and conditions on love. I'm loved by people even when I'm unlovable, when I'm mean or sarcastic. That's what loving like Christ is all about--find the dirtiest, crabbiest, most unloving person in the world, and love him/her. It's a tough assignment, but it's what will change the world. No election, no army, no war, no financial bailout, no vaccine will alter the future. Unless love is involved.
I'm going to climb down off my soapbox now. I'm not perfect. Pope Francis is not perfect. It's the striving for perfection that makes the difference.
Saint Marty has a long way to go.
Remarkably You Love Me
by: Laura Boss
me of the vacuumless rooms,
me of the paper cluttered rooms,
me of the I'll do the dusting tomorrow
me of the if it's mechanical or electronic
I blank out
me of the if it's boring conversation,
I stop listening
me of the unanswered letters and unpaid bills
who sit ankle deep in dust writing poems all night
Confessions of Saint Marty