The Illustrious Erin Manning writes

Mark, I’m asking you to do me a favor if you can.  Deirdre Mundy, a wonderful writer who doesn’t actually blog all that often (what with little ones at home and all) has written a pitch-perfect piece about Pope Francis’ decision to celebrate Holy Thursday Mass in a juvenile prison. Here’s just a little of it:

Father Z. talks about rebuilding the church brick by brick. And saving the liturgy is very important– but what if our new Pope has noticed that the foundations are also cracked? All the beautiful liturgy in the world will be worthless if we forget what’s at the root. Francis wants to lead us to a personal encounter with Jesus in the Eucharist, but he also wants to remind us that we are a Church of sinners, and that Jesus didn’t shun those who weren’t pure enough or good enough or refined enough. Those people, the prisoners and the lepers, deserve a beautiful,reverent liturgy too, don’t they?

Under Benedict, some of us embraced a new monasticism. We prepared to hunker down with our families, to keep the light alive as the world plunged into darkness. For eight years, we read, we learned, we prepared.  Some of us assumed that the time to shine forth wouldn’t be for generations. We assumed that Benedict was preparing us to keep the flame alive for hundreds of years.

Now Francis is here, shouting that we must take the Gospel out into the world, bring the indifferent back to the Church, and proclaim Christ to all of our neighbors.  I think Benedict understood that it was time. He started liturgical reforms – when we bring others back to the Church, we can have a beautiful place prepared for them. But all the liturgical reform in the world won’t do any good if we keep it to ourselves.

I know that others, including the incomparable Simcha Fisher, have written about this (I was reading Simcha’s post when I saw Deirdre’s in my reader).  But I thought Deirdre’s understanding of what’s going on here is so amazing, and so beautiful.

Yep.  The whole silly business of pitting Benedict and Francis against one another is folly, no matter who is doing it.  One Holy Father has, in the Providence of God, paved the way for the work of the next one.  I think we are living in exciting times!

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  • Elizabeth Scalia

    I too think we’re living in exciting times. I keep marveling that Benedict so clearly understood that the church’s back was against the wall — and so he passed it to the Holy Spirit and gave room! Boom! :-)

  • Subsistent

    Seems to me, tho, that Manning’s here-quoted lines themselves pit Benedict and Francis against each other. For in reality, Benedict too was interested in evangelization — indeed added a Curial department for it. And, as Rocco Palmo posted February 19 (in *Whispers in the Loggia*) in a talk that Benedict gave on 25 Sept. 2011, his whole drift was AWAY from a settled “siege mentality”, and toward the Church’s being “fully immersed in the Redeemer’s outreach” to humans, “in filling the world with God’s word”.

  • Erin Manning

    Just to be clear, I think there’s a slight problem with the quote formatting (probably my fault). The paragraphs beginning “Under Benedict…” and “Now Francis…” etc. are still Deirdre Mundy’s writing. My only comment was the bit about having read both Simcha Fisher and Deirdre Mundy on this matter and liking both posts, but especially the way Deirdre put things from the perspective of someone who cares quite a bit about the liturgy.

    Thanks for sharing this, Mark! Deirdre is one of those writers who always makes sense.

    • Mark Shea

      Fixed it!

  • Dan C

    Francis has an understanding of the poor as Christ present to us. I think this is what is being taught to the world. He has said this over and over in varied forms since his election. This is not just “bringing the Gospel to the world or the indifferent.” This is bringing the Church to those who represent Christ in a very special way.

  • Melissa Fry

    Erin rocks! Have you seen her latest?
    There’s no way to get around that.