Pope Emeritus Has Lunch with Pope

Pope Emeritus Benedict made the short trip to have lunch with Pope Francis.

It still seems strange to me that we have two living popes. I applaud the way that these men have handled this unprecedented situation.

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the Hype

Hype


Do not be afraid little flock, for the Father has chosen gladly to give you the Kingdom. Jesus Christ

Have you ever had someone take everything you say and twist it to make it mean something else?

I have.

I once had a family member who did this, and she made my life a living hell. There. Was. No. Winning.

I’ve also had little armies of advocate ants crawling all over me for years. Most of these advocate ants were (back when I favored legal abortion) pro life, or, (now that I’m pro life myself) pro abortion. However, these two warring camps are not the sole suppliers of advocate ants.

I’ve been attacked a number of times by what I call “the Downtown Boy’s Club,” which is to say the star chamber for the Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. I’ve also had quite a few zings from the Oklahoma Medical Association and other advocate ants who were trying to stop me from doing whatever I was doing and saying whatever I was saying by micro-searching my every comment for something they could use to harm me.

I didn’t worry overmuch about their micro searches because I knew one simple fact: If they didn’t find what they wanted in my actual verbiage, they’d make it up anyway.

I learned long ago that, over time, what they say you said stops being the story under the weight of what you actually do. If you are consistent and if you walk the walk, these things have a way of dying on their lethal little vines.

Of course, that’s tough for a politician who always faces another election not so far off. They may not have the time for the truth to win out. I was able to do it because I have the ability and the willingness to go directly to the people I represent and talk to them about these things; that and the fact that I was doing the things that made folks like the Downtown Boy’s Club mad at me for the people of my district and those good people knew it and were grateful for it.

I suppose it would be a lot tougher for a politician who was getting roughed up for something that went against the interests of the people he or she represented. That could indeed be political death.

How does this apply to the Pope? Just this: They’re doing the same thing to him.

Pope Francis is not saying anything new. What we’re witnessing is media blackmail of a sort.

They’ve done it to a lot of people in the past, and it has worked. The press constructs an alternate view of reality and then praises the hapless clown they are manipulating for conforming to their storyline. This is a Faustian bargain, akin to what Satan did when he offered Jesus all the kingdoms of the world if He would bow down to him.

Accept our scenario the press offers, and we will lionize you and praise you and make you the idol of millions of stupid people. It is incredible how many people fall for this and go along with these narratives that are imposed on them and begin to live out the lie. Politicians, celebrities, and especially young music stars, reshape themselves along the lines of the myth about themselves that the media created to get ratings and sell copies.

The press has been doing this with the popes for a while now. Pope Benedict XVI was cast as a dour, uncaring and cold type, all about the rule of the “thou shalt nots” and not at all about the love of Christ. That was, of course, a lie. The Pope they miscast this way wrote encyclicals titled “God is love.” He spoke out for the environment and peace. He said everything that Pope Francis has said.

Spin

The difference is the spin.

Already the press is beginning to become disgruntled that yet another pope refuses to fall for their bribe of press-generated public admiration and re-write the Gospels to suit the amoral morality they are pushing on the world.

Elizabeth Scalia and Mark Shea wrote about the Associated Press reporter who accused Pope Francis of being “inconsistent” because he told a group of doctors who were gathered at the Vatican that they must not perform abortions. Major news outlets have solemnly reported that Pope Francis has not spoken out against abortion, which is a dead flat lie.

It must be maddening for them to deal with someone who will not perform according to their script. After all, they’ve got the whole Western world, or at least the part of it they write about, jumping around and re-writing itself to conform to their bizarro view of things.

These people are hermetically sealed in their own prejudices. They do not go out and find stories and report the news. They wait for the “news” to come to them, and then they spin it according to their pre-written scripts.

They are not journalists.

They are also not believable.

Public Catholic reader FW Ken kindly put together a list of other bloggers who have taken the trouble to compare Pope Francis’ statements with Pope Benedict’s. I also added a few links to similar deliberate misinterpretations of papal statements from the past. Look them over. What you will find is that the papacy is consistently Catholic from pope to pope. More to the point, you will find that this pope is being given the “treatment” by the press. You can find these things herehere, here, here, here, here, and here.

My advice is to stay calm brothers and sisters. Trust God, follow the Pope and be faithful to Christ in your own lives. Stay the course, and don’t worry. In the long run, (and God is always about the long run) the truth inevitably wins out.

Governor Christie said … What Did He Say?

Chris christie

Whenever political ambitions cut across Christian beliefs, the result is predictable.

It’s like watching one of those flickering silent movies of yesteryear as the train roars up on Little Nell who lies tied to the tracks. You just know that Little Nell is going to get out of the ropes and off the tracks before the train arrives, but it’s soooo fun watching her kick and mouth silent pleas for help as she awaits her rescuing hero.

When politicians get bit by the big-time bug, sincere Christian beliefs are kind of like Little Nell’s ropes, tying them down. Big-time national politics and sincere beliefs don’t mix. If you doubt that, consider what we’ve been electing these past few decades.

Once a politician feels the frisson White House Ambition running down his or her spine, all basic Christian beliefs become unnecessary ballast that may — probably will — need a heave-ho.

Some politicians handle this with a deft, even stylish touch. Some of them are stone, cold liars. Others flub their lines at first. It takes a while for them to get the hang of it. That, and if they’ve been around politics for a while (and most White House Fever types have) they’ve got earlier versions of themselves to sweep under various political rugs.

We used to call it flip-flopping. Before that, we called it lying. The new term is “evolve.” Today’s politicians don’t turn their backs on everything they told voters to get elected to earlier offices. They “evolve.”

The pull of White House Ambition signals that it’s time to Start Evolving.

It’s up to we the people to see if we can figure out what they are going to evolve into.

Because they won’t tell us.

Because they don’t know.

Until they read the latest polls.

Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, is, as everyone knows, a desperation hope for the Republican ticket for president in 2016. He put in a boffo performance during Hurricane Sandy, one that convinced a lot of people — including me — that he had an actual sense of responsibility to the people of New Jersey.

That alone was so refreshing — dare I say unique? — among today’s elected officials that it made him an immediate possibility in the upcoming fight for his very own front door key to the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. It also, if his recent performance is any indicator, flooded his brain with political laughing gas.

Governor Christie is on record opposing gay marriage. He’s also on record supporting civil unions. So the water has always been murky in Christie land. But now he’s faced with running for nomination to the presidency in a Republican Party that is trying to “re-frame” itself on several critical issues. While the Rs have historically used the gay marriage issue as a vote getter in conservative states, they have begun to find it less than useful in certain big-state electoral vote mother lodes. Hence the “re-framing.”

As I’ve tried repeatedly to tell people on this blog, political parties are about getting and keeping power and everything else they say is a lie. That includes the lie of either party about supporting traditional marriage (or gay marriage, for that matter) if it becomes a loser in the vote-getting department. An internal report earlier this year recommended that the Republican party back off on its position against gay marriage.

The reaction of the party faithful was strong enough that the Republican National Committee approved a resolution reaffirming that marriage should be between one man and one woman.

But potential presidential candidates can and must be more coy than party committees. They’ve got to thread the vote-getting needle.

So, of course, there’s going to be some “evolving” taking place in their positions on hot-button issues.

In Governor Christie’s case, that meant signing a new law that would ban certain types of psychological therapy for children and announcing that being gay is “inborn and not a sin.” He even managed to conflate this statement with Catholic teaching.

The truth is, nobody really knows what causes homosexuality.  And of course being tempted to homosexual acts is not a sin. The next big leap into saying that actually going ahead and participating in homosexual acts is not sinful and that the Catholic Church teaches this is, well, just a Christie-ism.

News articles are now taking what the Governor said and putting it together with Pope Francis’ earlier statements to create a whole new teaching for the Catholic Church.

I wish the bishops would chime in with a correction. But until they do, I guess it’s up to us bloggers to do our best.

Here’s Catholic teaching as I understand it, which, since I am not running for president, is almost certainly going to be more accurate and less self-serving than anything Governor Christie will come out with.

As I said, it’s not a sin to be tempted to sin. If the sin is homosexual acts, the temptation is still not a sin. But committing the sinful act, even when that act is something as culturally sacred as having illicit sex, is a sin. Sex outside marriage is sinful. Period.

Second, Pope Francis did not say anything that contradicts this. He also did not overturn what Pope Benedict XVI taught.

Priests — both homosexual and straight — are supposed to be chaste, which, if you’re not married, means no sex. Both popes agree on that.

As for Governor Christie, my advice to him is to relax. It’s not anywhere near 2016. There’s plenty of time for him to “evolve” more gracefully than this.

Lumen Fidei, Part 1: The Light of Faith and Conversion

Benedict francis

Lumen Fidei, The Light of Faith, by Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict, is a wonderful piece of writing that I think is exactly right for us in this time.

It talks about the many ways that faith illumines our walk with Christ in this life, and how that faith leads us to the world beyond. It is about the transforming power of conversion. I was struck over and again while I was reading it by how completely its words seemed to speak directly to my own experience of conversion, from that first abrupt turn to Jesus and throughout the on-going conversion that has been my life since.

This experience of seeing my own walk of faith and my own needs — both intellectual and emotional needs — addressed in papal encyclicals is not new to me. I have been consistently amazed by the power the Holy Spirit infuses into the writings of the various popes to speak accurately of and directly to the broader human condition.

The fact that I saw my own experiences of conversion reflected in Luman Fidei leads me to believe that my conversion and my walk are far more universal than I had ever supposed. There is so much in Lumen Fidei that applies to us as individuals and as Christians in a newly post-Christian world that I am not going to attempt to summarize it in a single post. Instead, I’m going to unpack it a bit at a time and ponder what I learn from it.

Each of you would probably learn something different if you read it. Great spiritual writing is always like that. Ten people can read the Sermon on the Mount and experience 10 different insights. That is because the Sermon on the Mount has so many dimensions and also because the Holy Spirit guides us in our reflections to learn what we need at that time in our lives.

It is the same with this encyclical, or just about any of the encyclicals, for that matter. I encourage you to read it and reflect on it for yourself, then bring your thoughts here to try them out. Mind on mind generates better thinking that just going off alone. I think we can teach one another.

Conversion is not just a one-off, falling-off-a-cliff moment. It can be that, but, if it is real, it is always more than that. Conversion is a process of re-orientation.

The way I’ve always put it is that Jesus doesn’t change what we do. He changes what we want to do.

Lumen Fidei puts it like this:

Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love, a love which precedes us and upon which we can lean for security and for building our lives. Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time … faith is also a light coming from the future and opening before us vast horizons which guide us beyond ourselves towards the breadth of communion.

In other words, God loved us before we were conceived, and has called us to Himself when we were apart from Him. That initial moment of conversion is built on the first spark of faith that allows us to say “yes” to this love. In my case, I said “Forgive me.”

My first conscious experience of God as Another was the instantaneous experience of love and joy pouring into me as soon as I said that. It was God’s answer to my “yes” to Him.

Just as the love of our parents when we are little gives us the security to explore the world and learn about it without fear, this powerful love of God that we can actually feel as a sensation transforms us from the inside.

The fact, the simple fact, that God Is, that He Is a reacting being whose first persona is ecstatic love and joy of a quality we have never known was possible, changes everything else. Faith, which was a spark of desperation when we said that first “yes,” becomes a certainty in the reality of this love.

Faith in Him, in His goodness and His love, teaches us a new kind and level of security. It is security built on a different reality at a different plane than the ones we ordinarily build our lives around.

The foundations and walls of security people try to erect for themselves are made of labor, blood and money. We amass wealth, commission armies, put up buildings and buy locks, all to give us security from the thief, the tyrant and the caprice of life. All these things are open mouths into which we feed our days erecting, maintaining and controlling them in the vain hope that they will keep us safe. Whatever safety they give is predicated on the fact that they themselves also devour our energies and strength. None of them can, in the end, save us from our own weaknesses and mortality.

The security of Christ is built outside of time and without our work. We do not supply it, and we do not maintain it. Time cannot erode it and death does not end it.

Christ light

Faith is the light, shining in the darkness of our narrow existences which illumines this security and lets us experience it. Faith does not create the security of living in Christ. Rather, it lets us experience it to its fullest.

Faith in Christ allows us to see the new path before us. It opens our hearts to the teaching and promptings of the Holy Spirit, which in turn, change us from the inside out. Over time, we are converted to a new way of looking at ourselves, other people and life. We are changed, re-oriented. The things that matter to us change, and the things we do change right along with them.

We become new creatures in Christ.

This is the full experience of conversion, which is on-going, life-long and radical. It is how Christ transforms the world; by transforming each one of us individually.

And it all depends on that first radical turn away from flat, one-dimensional life of no faith, no hope, and doing it all for ourselves. It depends on that initial “yes” of faith.

 

Join the Discussions of the Year of Faith

Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.


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