September 21, 2013 – Keep Calm

This week saw the tremendous influence that social media has to spread information, to influence people, to put all kinds of different twists on things, and to rally people for worthy causes.  Earlier this past week there was another tragic story of a 12-year old in Florida committing suicide at least in part due to the fact that she had been bullied with text messages and put downs on social media.  These stories are horrifying, which is why we need to continue to educate our young people about the influence social media has gained in our society.

However, on the flip side, social media can be a tremendous way to bring people together in prayer and to rally for a cause.  Unfortunately, there have been a lot of prayer intentions that have been needed this past week for people with health issues, etc.  Most notably, Daulton Misuraca, grandson of parishioners Dick and Sharon Misuraca, was in a serious car accident a week ago, and is still in critical condition at a St. Louis hospital.  However, social media has allowed us not only to stay updated on his condition, but also a Facebook page titled “Prayers for Daulton” was started which has now been liked by over 2500 people!  What a powerful prayer tool we have been given with the internet and social media!  This is why it is so important for us as Christians to not only accept these cyber tools, but to embrace them.  My routine this week has seemed to be get home from work, and then re-post all of the information from people needing prayer.  But I know people appreciate it, and I’ll keep doing it as long as it takes.  Keep checking our Facebook page, and when you go to Facebook, type in “Prayers for Daulton” to access his page.

OK, as you probably know, social media also exploded this past Thursday because of a little chat Pope Francis had with a Jesuit magazine.  Boy were the headlines riveting!  “VATICAN SHOCK WAVE.”  “POPE FRANCIS SHAKES UP THE CHURCH.”  “POPE FRANCIS IS A FLAMING LIBERAL.”  “POPE FRANCIS CHARTS NEW COURSE FOR THE CHURCH.”  OK, before we move further, I have a little message for everyone who thought the walls of the Vatican were crumbling down and St. Peter was rising out of his grave:

keep-calm-and-go-to-mass-11
OK, now then.  If you haven’t had a chance to read the interview with Pope Francis that has stirred all of this up, here is a link to it:

http://www.americamagazine.org/pope-interview

Now, let’s examine what got people so excited.  I think this is the quote from the interview that made the most press: “We cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. This is not possible. I have not spoken much about these things, and I was reprimanded for that. But when we speak about these issues, we have to talk about them in a context. The teaching of the church, for that matter, is clear and I am a son of the church, but it is not necessary to talk about these issues all the time.”  Is this a change in tone?  Yes.  Is this a change in what the Catechism tells us? NO.  Is this the beginning of a radical change in the doctrine of the church?  NO.  I think what we are seeing is a Pope who is imitating Jesus Christ.

As I read in an article yesterday, to read this quote and say that the Pope wants to be accepting of abortion and contraception and gay marriage is like reading the story of Jesus and the Woman at the Well and say it shows how accepting Jesus is of adultery.  Jesus masterfully takes a woman who has led a sinful life from a simple conversation about water to a self-examination of her life to a recognition that Jesus is the Messiah.  He does it without ever voicing His objections to her sinful life.  Christ respects the woman’s freedom. When we say we want to “evangelize” someone, we often mean we want someone to stop being who they are and be who we want them to be. Christ doesn’t treat the woman  that way. He recognizes the woman for who she is, but offers her a positive way to become a better person.  Christ also speaks in the woman’s language about a real need the woman feels, in this case for water. Too often, our efforts to tell other people about Christ fail to recognize their interests, while making our interests (their joining our Church) very clear.  Finally, Christ doesn’t condemn the woman — rather, he leads her to a place where she can see the error of her own ways. This is crucial. Not only do we frighten people away from us by being judgmental, we deny them the opportunity of true repentance.  The respectful way is the harder way, but it is the more effective way.

Compare this observation with what Francis says later in the interview: “Because God is first; God is always first and makes the first move,” he said. “I have a dogmatic certainty: God is in every person’s life. God is in everyone’s life. Even if the life of a person has been a disaster, even if it is destroyed by vices, drugs or anything else — God is in this person’s life. You can, you must try to seek God in every human life. Although the life of a person is a land full of thorns and weeds, there is always a space in which the good seed can grow. You have to trust God.”  Pope Francis is not telling us that we should not teach the doctrine of the church on issues such as abortion, homosexuality, etc.  I think what he is telling us is that we need to get back to the true focus – that we are a Christ-centered church who welcomes sinners.  Remember the passage from last Sunday’s gospel – “This Man welcomes sinners, and eats with them.”  If we are willing to become true shepherds, to welcome the sinner, to stop being so judgmental, then people will see why we as church hold the teachings that we do.  After all, these teachings are based on what Scripture tells us.  God Bless Pope Francis for reminding us what our true tasks as Christians are.

Have a great week.  I hope my heart can hold out watching these Cardinal games.  Enjoy the beautiful fall weather!  Keep praying for our brothers and sisters in their time of need.  Peace.

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One Response to “September 21, 2013 – Keep Calm”

  1. Rose Callahan Says:

    Good blog…as usual!

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