What Would the Desert Fathers Think of Pope Francis Blessing the Disabled Man?

Agape in action.

Surely you’ve seen the video of Pope Francis stopping his ride into St. Peter’s Square so he could give a blessing. Deacon Greg shared it earlier,

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…and it’s going viral like the fire in Chicago after Mrs. O’Leahry’s cow kicked over her lantern.

And rightly so.

In one of my first blog posts, I shared how much I admired the Desert Fathers and Mothers, and how they helped me swim the Tiber. When I saw Pope Francis stop and dismount from his vehicle this morning, and bestow that loving blessing on our brother and his fellows, I remembered the following saying,

A monk once posed this question to an elder: There are two brothers, one of whom remains praying in his cell, fasting six days at a time and doing a great deal of penance. The other one takes care of the sick. Which one’s work is more pleasing to God? The elder replied: If that brother who fasts six days were to hang himself up by the nose, he could not equal the one who takes care of the sick.

Often times, the best lessons on leadership are taught by example. Pope Francis is leading, and even if his actions remind me my own unworthiness and shameful lack of agape, I intend to follow his example.

Because his example is Jesus Christ’s example, and it leaves my heart burning within me.


  • Bryan B

    Beautiful story. I missed it earlier even though it went viral. Only … did you mean to mix the story of Mrs. O’Leary’s cow with Lizzie Borden who took the ax and gave her mother 40 whacks? I was thinking it must be some very clever reference that I just plain didn’t get.

  • Guest

    Just a minor observation, but I believe the cow attributed with having started the Chicago fire actually belonged to Mrs. O’Leary. Lizzie Borden is an entirely different historical figure.

    • Frank Weathers

      Mixed it up. Thanks y’all! My apologies to Lizzie Borden.

  • http://remnantofremnant.blogspot.com priest’s wife (@byzcathwife)

    it was beautiful for the Pope to stop- but look at the smile of non-disabled caregiver- even if he is getting a wage to take care of the disabled man, he is doing a 24-7 work of mercy

    • Frank Weathers

      Indeed. There are four kinds of people in the world…

      1. Those who have been caregivers.
      2. Those who are currently caregivers.
      3. Those who will be caregivers.
      4. Those who will need caregivers someday.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        LOL! How true.

  • Modern Revert

    Believe it or not, I’ve already encountered negative reviews of this beautiful gesture…sigh.

  • http://www.marcmanera.net Marc

    Could you please provide a reference for your quoted story of the mocks? I could find the story in several places on the blogsphere but always without a reference. I don’t know how to feel about it. What desert father is it? Please, help would be appreciated.

  • Modern Revert

    Sadly, I’ve already seen disparaging remarks made about this beautiful gesture…sigh.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    I’ve said the following at a number of Catholic blogs, and I’ve put it up on my own as well, but it’s relevant to your theme here:

    “The last few days have made it apparent that B16′s strengths were intellectual at the expense of human contact. Given what I’ve seen of Francis’s human contact approach to his ministry, human contact is much more important than intellectual pontificating, pardon the pun. The intellectual underpinnings of Catholicism are there in the magisterium. Whatever updating B16 did to it is marginal, and non-Catholics weren’t listening anyway. I like what I’ve seen Pope Francis. This contact ministry is the human contact that I’ve argued brings Christ to everyone. Through human contact is where Christ is revealed. Pope Francis is a shot in the arm!”

    Perhaps as a commenter on my blog to that has pointed out, I’ve minimized B16′s genius. I’ll acknowldge that. Perhaps my comment was more in a rhetorical posture to bring out the point of Francis’s strength. I love B16 too. It just so happens that Francis’s physical embrace of humanity has been thrilling and coincides with what i’ve been pushing for for a while. Great post on your part, especially the Desert Father’s quote.