Papa and Pop-Pop, Side-by-Side as Christians

What a day it is! With the release of Lumen Fidei and the announcement of canonizations of Blessed Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, today is all about continuity, cohesion and co-operation: the announced canonization of two modern popes; the release of an encyclical composed by two modern popes, “written with four hands” but with one heart; an unexpected moment when two modern popes sit side-by-side and ask our great angelic warrior, Saint Michael the Archangel, and the most humble of obedienciaries, Saint Joseph, to protect Holy See — and by extension the whole church — through Francis’ consecration.

Everything is of-a-piece. The thread weaving through all of these stories is CCC: Continuity, cohesion, co-operation.

“Come together!” Three of these pontiffs, John XXIII, John-Paul II and Benedict XVI have been co-opted or caricatured by factions intent on furthering their own sense of what is right and correct through either the vilification or the lionization of each pope, in turn. Francis — by declaring John a Saint along with John-Paul, and bringing Benedict into the garden with Saint Michael to make a consecration that may discomfit many (for a variety of reasons) — might be making a powerful point about the futility of such attempts to divide and polarize: attempting to make worldly agenda-suited distinctions within a line of continuum that is wholly supernatural is like playing with a most destructive fire. One rooted, I really believe, in idolatry: it’s about serving the “I” within us, the egotistical part of ourselves that aligns with what we think of as the “smart” or “righteous” faction:

Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. Those who choose not to put their trust in God must hear the din of countless idols crying out: “Put your trust in me!”
Lumen Fidei, Section 13

Given the words and images from Rome, today, I am more and more certain that it is really time to stop making idols of ideologies and negating each other with convenient labels and to take a cue from these two popes, Benedict and Francis, and the obvious regard and respect they demonstrate, one for the other.

Later today (I think between the 6-7PM hour, Eastern) Sheila Liaugminas and I will be “A Closer Look” at all of this heady stuff, and so I really need to buckle-down today and get the encyclical read. I’m having fun trying to discern which parts were written by Benedict and which by Francis! Meanwhile:

Here the “official summary” of Lumen Fidei

John Thavis with thoughts on why Francis is not waiting for an official “second” miracle for Good Pope John.

“Points to ponder on the encyclical.

Francis X. Rocca with an overview

Seven encyclicals that shook the world

A little roundup of first reactions, which includes an observation that this encyclical is “a heartfelt attempt to speak to anyone still searching for God.”

Yes, I think it is. And reading between the lines, between the encyclical, the canonizations, and the consecration to Saint Michael today, I think it’s meant to cut through a lot of dross, and help them to “seek the Lord while he may be found!”

Or, you know: “Come together and don’t dawdle about it.” :-)

By the way Relevant Radio, which hosts A Closer Look, has a terrific free app, too.

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  • DeirdreMundy

    Maybe I’m dense, but why would consecrating Vatican City to St. Michael make anyone uncomfortable? I mean, other than people who don;t think ‘seeking the ruin of souls’ is a BAD thing….. Why shouldn’t the Church put itself under the protection of God’s warrior?

  • Maggie Goff

    The app is excellent. Simple. Easy to use.

  • MeanLizzie

    Not so much a “bad” thing. Some will be made uncomfortable because Michael is very much associated with the Second Coming. Some b/c they think the whole Saint Michael prayer is a bit “rad trad”. That’s all.

  • DeirdreMundy

    Funny on the ‘Rad Trad’ thing, since it seems the people with Charismatic/Steubenvillish leanings also really like St. Michael. And Pro-Lifers, of course. Maybe it’s just us superstitious Catholics who still believe in the devil!

    My kids recently went to an awesome VBS (daily Mass was a part of the program!) where even the pre-schoolers came out knowing the St. Michael prayer by heart. I think that while boomer Catholics have weird hang-ups about St. Michael, we younger Catholics are actually kind of relieved to know we can count on his help!

  • MeanLizzie

    My son (24) has had a deep devotion to Michael all his life. Got his first Icon at about age 9, and took Michael for his confirmation name.

  • DaTechGuy on DaRadio

    Is it just me or does the change in pace in the document seem that sections 52-55 seem almost as if there were part of a different document

  • Gordis85

    I’m no ‘rad trad” and love St. Michael lots. He has come to my aid many times and does so to this day. I still fall but I then scamper under his shield and ask him to help me stand strong and trust in Jesus ever more. I entrust my entire family to him as well.

    It is a beautiful gift to see Papa Francis and Papa Benedict together again. It makes me so happy and so hopeful for our beloved Church. Let the naysayers (both in and out of the Church) say what they will…the light of Christ, as shown by these two faithful sons of His Church, will continue to inspire and to give hope to the many of us who are many times over overwhelmed with so much bad news…what a joy it is to see them together! It lifts up my heart!

    Thank you Holy Spirit!

  • MeanLizzie

    It definitely sounds more like one of Francis’ graphs than Benedict’s (likewise #57) and it seems almost like it was included specifically to address recent developments, although the discussion of “family” begins in the 40′s

  • Anglican Peggy

    That is a lot of Pope-power in one picture :-) It makes me so happy to see Papa Benedict again. I’ve been thinking about him and how he is getting on.

  • Joseph Posavac

    Ss John XXIII and John Paul lI, pray for us. Now, how about St. Pius XII? Isn’t he overdue?

  • Michelle Scott

    There’s a huge amount happening in one go here. I have started reading the Encyclical, which is brilliant. I also think bringing St Michael and St Joseph in is bringing up the big guns; so that implies a big battle ahead, if it isn’t already well under way.
    But there’s a couple of things I am confused about. Why is the Vatican, the Holy Father, ditching the requirement for a second miracle? Is it because Bl. Pope John XXIII was found incorrupt and this coupled with the general love of him as a good and holy man is a bit of “bring back the medieval ways” with a modern twist?
    Also no details of the second miracle attributed to the prayer of Bl. Pope John Paul II have been released but rumours are being printed in the mainstream press that the first miracle is less than secure and the nun in question has relapsed.
    Surely a strong, clear and straightforward announcement with all the details is needed asap. before all those lovely bridges we might be building end up in the flood waters of confusion and suspicion.

    Meanwhile I can’t wait to see them both canonised. It is wonderful.

  • Victor

    Long story short, we Christians need so much of each others prayers and realty help from His Holiness B16 won’t hurt plus Saint Michael The Arch Angel who also wants to help out is welcome news. Right folks?

    Onward Christian soldiers

  • KyPerson

    Ahem, this boomer Catholic loves St. Michael dearly and his icon in full armor stands guard on my work desk.