29 October 2013

Let the Little Children Come Unto Me!!

 Earlier this evening I posted about the idea of persistence in prayer. I referred to the story of the importunate widow. Well the story making the rounds includes the persistent boy (and I mean persistent with a capital P) in the following pictures. He wandered up while the Pope was preparing to speak on the topic of "Family" and would NOT be moved off the stage.  Francis exchanged smiles with him, attempted to carry on despite him, and eventually, simply continued with his talk and welcoming of guests. The enacted parables continue --- and continue to inspire even as they amuse.

The "true resto-rationist"** Catholics are going on and on about how Francis (they tend to call him Frank, sometimes "His phoniness" or "Chaos Frank") is demeaning the papacy with every act and every word. I suggest (forecast) they will be livid over this "incident." The disciples, of course --- who had their own ideas of what was proper and what a Messiah should be --- tried to protect Jesus from encounters of just this kind. Instead Jesus said,  "Let the children (those without any standing) come unto me" and reminded us that it was to these that the Kingdom of God truly belonged. Well, Francis is the Vicar of Christ and the one we look to as a clear symbol of what it means to be Christian. Especially, our priorities have to be on the least, the last, and the lost --- and not on our own ideas of self-importance. Imagine being able to approach Jesus with such trust and familiarity! Imagine being able to do so with every Bishop or Cardinal!

Eventually, after allowing him to hang onto his leg for a while and accepting his "help" in dragging visitors up on the stage to meet Francis, the boy was lodged in the Chair of Peter while Francis gave his talk! (I will never be able to think or write about the Feast of the Chair of Peter in quite the same way again.) Of course I believe the Chair of Peter is significant in our world but I also believe it has become immeasurably MORE important because a little child (I personally wish it had been a little girl!) was parked there securely  in the presence of a Pope who 1) knows how significant everything he does really is yet does not take himself too seriously, and 2) who can help us make the Church a place in which the youngest  and least significant in our world is wholly at home and can be seated at the place of greatest honor. This is a papacy I can completely respect and a Pope I can love.

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** To clarify: when I refer to restorationists here it should be clear I am NOT referring to traditionalist Catholics in general. I doubt if any of those are referring to the Pope as "His Phoniness" or "Chaos Frank" and I sincerely hope they do not believe the Pope is demeaning the papacy because he (for instance) refuses to wear red shoes, dances (and loves) the tango,  eats food other than the Eucharist in public, dresses simply (as Jesus would have and urges his disciples to do as well) and generally eschews the trappings of a Baroque Monarchy. 

Restorationists desire the Church as such be restored to her Baroque glory (and I suppose, her Baroque decadence). This is not about liturgy alone but about theology, style, power, and a notion of holiness which is legalistic and associated with status  in a more Constantinian sense while it mistakes the Church for the Kingdom of God. Thus, there is "True Restoration Radio," "Novus Ordo Watch," or the blogs they support and list --- examples of what I am referring to here. They are very clear that they wish to restore the Church to a pre-conciliar state entirely.  I will be speaking more about this group of folks primarily because it seems to me they really "get" what happened at Vatican II and rejected it outright as heretical. Thus, while I reject their conclusions about the import of the Council, I find their reading of and response to it more honest than efforts to interpret the council in ways which are little more than politic attempts to emasculate it or draw its teeth. I am sorry if it seemed to anyone I was casting aspersions on traditionalist Catholics in general in the above piece. I was not.