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)

  • http://www.thewinedarksea.com Melanie B

    Calah, I just finished reading a really good biography of Francis by a Dominican priest that I think you’d love, Francis of Assisi a Bew Biography by Augustine Thompson,O.P.. It has almost nothing about animals in it at all. And the main focus of Francis’ spirituality as presented in this book is not poverty but the Eucharist. The real poverty that he focuses on is the physicality of the human condition taken on by the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. “To take into one’s self the Living and Crucified Body during communion, to venerate it at the Elevation during the Mass, and to do so worthily, was to experience the true poverty that was embraced by the Word: human flesh, torn and suffering, bleeding and dying, for others.” The imitation of Christ’s self offering which becomes real and tangible in the Eucharistic sacrifice Thompson says is the theme of Francis’ Later Exhortation.

  • http://www.thewinedarksea.com Melanie B

    Oh and how did I miss you talking about my bishop Cardinal O’Malley on Facebook?

    And St Francis definitely ate meat.

    And sorry to the fans but Brother Sun Sister Moon is a very dated movie and I don’t think it presents a very historic Francis. He’s kind of a hippy version if the saint and its portrayal is probably the root of why you thought you wouldn’t like him.

  • http://saintsinprogress.blogspot.com Nicole S

    Great post. I was thinking too about how this pope would challenge us to a greater love for the poor.

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  • Gia

    BTW, Saint Francis of Assisi was NOT a vegetarian. ;)

  • Elizabeth

    I’ve never seen “Brother Sun, Sister Moon.” I loved Rossellini’s “The Flowers of St. Francis,” though. SO beautiful. It captures the spirit of St. Francis, I think, in a series of short, powerful vignettes (like the one where he embraces a leper he meets in the middle of the night). God bless Pope Francis–from our short glimpse of him thus far I think he is invoking this spirit well.

    • TerryC

      I don’t know how Rossellini presented it, but the truth of the matter is that Francis had a deep seated, almost pathological dread of lepers. He feared the disease at the very deepest level. He had nightmares about having to touch lepers. So in true saintly fashion God call to him to embrace the leper, who was in truth no other than his dear Lady Poverty in other guise. Frances had the strength and mortal courage of the great hero that he was, for it is in facing that which we fear most that true bravery is displayed.
      I pray that the Holy Father has such depths of courage, because I fear he’ll need it. Everything I have seen of him so far makes me believe that it is possible.

  • Bill M.

    Given his reputation for loving ‘the least of these’, I would think the Holy Father is an animal lover.

  • http://www.eagleandelephant.blogspot.com William P

    You should read his Lenten Letter for this year: http://jmgarciaiii.blogspot.com/2013/02/cdl-bergoglios-lenten-letter-2013.html
    and his 2008 Palm Sunday Homily: http://jmgarciaiii.blogspot.com/2008/03/cdl-bergoglios-palm-sunday-homily.html
    They are great and give one a sense of his thought and preaching.
    Then there is his talk at the Eucharistic Congress in Canada back in 2008: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pont_committees/eucharist-congr/documents/rc_committ_euchar_doc_20080618_mistero-alleanza_en.html

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