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!