Pope Francis, Teaching Me to Walk the Walk-Updated with some Link Love

A few days ago, I expressed my affection for Cardinal O’Malley on facebook. The Anchoress replied that I loved him so much because there was something “very Franciscan” about me. I didn’t really understand what she meant, because I’ve had a completely unreasonable bias against St. Francis for years now, since he always seemed to me to be the first ever PETA member and I can’t get behind not eating delicious animals.

And now our Pope is Francis. And yesterday afternoon and evening my newsfeed was peppered with all the reasons why he’s like Francis. To my surprise, none of them mentioned animals. All of them, however, were focused on the way in which this Pope has walked the walk.

He takes public transit. He lives in a small apartment. He cooks his own meals. When he was named Cardinal, he ordered the parishioners in Argentina who were gathering funds to come celebrate with him in Rome to stop and distribute the money they had raised to the poor. After he was elected, all the cardinals stood around at the hotel waiting for the papal car, when the last bus pulled in and out climbed Our Holy Father. You can just imagine him, can’t you, saying awkwardly to the drive, “Um, you know, that’s okay, I’ll just go with the guys on the bus. There’s no need to waste the gas money.”


If this is what it means to be Franciscan, then yeah, I’m totally on board. These are the things that speak to me. Oh, there are a million other things I’ve already read from Pope Francis that I am chomping at the bit to write about in a frenzy of delight and gratitude, but this is what I was hoping for in a pope. Someone who would say, “these are the things Christ has called us to do, so let me show you how.”

A while ago I put up a Paypal donate button on my sidebar. It’s kind of in an inconspicuous place because I felt a little awkward about it, and it’s only been used once. But at the time we were having trouble making ends meet and I thought, well, every little bit helps.

Technically, our little family is right below the poverty level set by the government. This means that I have to work really hard to plan meals so that I can make healthy choices and still afford organic, pastured meat and diary. It also means we hardly ever eat out, we never go to movies, we don’t buy clothes unless someone gives us Christmas or birthday money, etc., etc. But guess what? That is not poverty.

Just up the road a little ways there is a town called Immokalee. We drive through it occasionally. This town is full of migrant workers, generally field hands who help with the fruit harvest that happens year-round in Florida. The cancer rate is sky-high because of the amount of pesticides the workers inhale. 98% of the violence in our county happens in this town, and it’s almost all domestic violence. The local parish priest once told our neighbor that they would be delighted to take some mattresses the previous tenants left in our garage, even the one that had holes in it, because the kids getting them had never slept on a mattress before. That’s poverty.

So, inspired by the example of our day-old Pope Francis, I’m going to give 100% of the donations I receive to St. Matthew’s House in Immokalee. If you feel inclined to donate, you can rest assured that these people need it.

I am so grateful for God’s faithfulness and love in giving us this new Holy Father, who has influenced me already to practice what I preach. I have high hopes that he will lead all Christians to lives of increasing holiness and faith. Deo Gratias. Viva il Papa!


Some updates from around the web:

Deacon Greg, “This is a Pope from Galilee”

Frank Weathers, “Christian Badass or Christian Coward, Which Do We Choose?”

Thank God for this post from Larry D, saying everything I wanted to say and more. Here’s an excerpt, but do go read the whole thing:

Our world is lacking in charity and compassion. It’s dying from a dearth of love, and doesn’t even know it. The world is seeking answers to its questions in every conceivable wrong place, and will not – refuses to – accept the Church’s plausible and simple and correct responses to those questions. They’re written off as impractical, or controlling, or outmoded, or bigoted. Thus, the Church is ignored and maligned. So the world continues on its way, stumbling about in the dark, oppressive clouds of doubt, searching. It has believed the lie that evil is good, thus sinking deeper in sin, thinking it’s found the solutions to its problems. Meanwhile, the Church stands still and waits. It’s why the Church doesn’t change – cannot change – her teachings. Because when people are finally ready to accept what She has to offer, they will know where to find Her. Where She has always been. Waiting patiently to accept the sinner in, and then, by one conversion followed by another, work to convert the world.  To bring the Gospel message of hope to a hope-less world.

God knows this. He knows our Church needs healing, too. The vitriol I’ve read in various places is evidence of that. Heck, I need healing. We all do.  All of us know that our Church is wounded  – we’re separated by pride, divided by self-righteousness.  The worst of the Church’s sins have been exposed to the world, and the most painful of attacks have come from within.”

(Read the rest here)

Mark Shea with more Pope Francis Being Awesome

George Weigel on the first American Pope (he also explains that whole “runner-up to Ratzinger” thing, and why that’s really a misconception)

  • LaurenE

    Calah, you are a sweet and wonderful person! I love this idea. Just one thing though — you will probably want to write that disclaimer above your donate button, and/or offer a way for people to donate *to you* as well.

    • calahalexander

      I’m totally going to, but I can’t figure out how to change the widget. I seriously need my own tech support person. I spend 90% of my blogging time trying to figure out how to do utterly simple things. So frustrating.

  • http://www.likeafruitfulvine.blogspot.com Sarah

    I’m sure you know this, but he chose the name Francis after Francis Xavier, one of the first Jesuits, not Francis of Assisi – the above mentioned PETA member! St. Francis Xavier was canonized on March 12, 1622, and the conclave to elect Pope Francis began on March 12!
    You have written several times about your fear of stomach bugs. I am living your worst nightmare right now! I am a mom of 6 (one is a teenage stepdaughter), and am 32 weeks pregnant. Last Wednesday my four year old started vomitting, I prayed it wouldn’t spread. Alas, I have had at least two children vomitting since Sunday evening! The silver lining – the school-aged kids were home to see the election of our new Pope yesterday, which also happened to be my BIRTHDAY!
    We take a yearly summer vacation to the Sarasota area to visit my in-laws. This summer, we are planning a day trip to Ave Maria. Would love/welcome your suggestions on things we MUST visit! Habemus Papam!

    • http://onecatholicmama.blogspot.com Amelia

      Actually, I’ve heard from two sources that he chose the name Francis after St. Francis of Assisi. One was from a reporter in Rome who said a Vatican spokesperson said it was after St. Francis of Assisi and I believe the other was in an interview Cardinal Dolan did. Plus, if he had wanted to be named after St. Francis Xavier, he could have chosen the name Francis Xavier, instead of just Francis…other Popes have had 2 names.
      Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter that much, they are both great Saints and maybe he was thinking of both Saints when he chose the name..but I think he did want to honor St. Francis as well, which is why he took just Francis instead of Francis Xavier.

    • calahalexander

      Ewww I’m SO SO sorry! The worst! AS far as Ave, you must visit me. Just kidding! I dunno, the Oratory for sure, the Pub is great, there’s a farm that’s fun to go to…there’s not a whole lot here, really, though. Mostly houses. And gazillions of kids.

  • http://onecatholicmama.blogspot.com Amelia

    My family is full of Franciscans (and none of them are vegetarians lol), so we are thrilled with the name the Pope chose. Yeah..Franciscian spirituality is about poverty and simplicity and giving up everything to follow Christ. This pope is definitely walking the walk…which is very inspirational.

  • Katie

    Lovely post. It inspires me to give more.

    Also, he took his name from Assisi not Xavier: “Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said the new pope chose the name in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.”

  • http://stmonicasbridge.wordpress.com Kristen

    Didn’t you know, PETA stands for People Eating Tasty Animals :).

  • http://ayearoflivingadventurously.wordpress.com Emily

    This is lovely, Caleh! I’m a third order (lay) Dominican, so the Franciscans are sort of our “brothers” in the mendicant orders…we grew up together. Franciscan spirituality is a lovely thing….”walking the walk” with Christ, like Amelia said. Viva il Papa!

  • Charles Curtis

    Caleh, you need to read Chapter X of the Little Flowers of Francis (tales of Brother Juniper, medieval analects of the Franciscans), it will cure you of your sad prejudice against Saint Francis:


    You’ll notice the punch line of the tale, which like most stories about Juniper, is pretty funny. Anyhow, the material point is that Francis, while fond of animals, still ate them. Sometimes with their feathers still on them, as we see. Brother Juniper is one of the four companions buried next to Francis in the basilica crypt in Assisi.
    It’s the Cistercians and the Trappists, and Eastern monks in the Athonite and desert traditions that you should be annoyed at for being vegetarian. None of them generally eat meat.

    • Beth

      I don’t know about the other orders, but the Cistercians in Irving, TX definitely eat meat. They look forward to Easter for many reasons, one of minor ones is that they get to celebrate after the Easter Vigil Mass with a small feast of champagne and Hungarian sausages.

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  • Mike

    See Brother Sun Sister Moon when you can; it’s beautiful.

  • Brigitte

    I just love your enthusiasm!