Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two Merciful Men

Although I wanted Mother Teresa of Calcutta, India to be recognized and canonized as a saint before
Popes John XXIII and John Paul II, the first popes to be raised to the level of saints in 700 years, the festive ceremony Sunday in Vatican Square will be appreciated by many Catholics, and more.

Amid wonderment about the sexual abuse crisis that was brewing during both pontificates, both are merciful men who seemed to lead well the 1.2 million-member Catholics. Leaders are only as good as the information they get from those who could have been more forthright and honest, rather than looking the other way, perhaps.

"Peace on Earth," an encyclical by Pope John the XXIII who called for "fresh air" in the church, is among the most notable of his many writings, coupled with the worldwide ecumenical Vatican II.

The Cold War was raging, and John XXIII spoke up.

He did.

Unafraid was John.

That council from 1962-65 gets blamed for so much in the church's disarray today. 

Got to blame someone, something at some time, I guess.

Social unrest and thunderous change at the time when the authority of God followed human likes and wants reigned.

Fresh air was needed in the church.

Good John XXIII led the Holy Spirit's breeze and wind giving Mother Church a birth anew.

Although I was in the eighth grade at the time, I only wondered what the council in Rome was all about. I was unaware for my age.

And, while Pope John Paul II helped to "get the horses back in the barn," so to speak, Vatican II released the laity with a liberty and respect for their gifts unheard of ever.

Yet, still, their gifts go unappreciated, it seems to me.

Collaboration, collegiality and local ecclesiology was front and center.

Good John Paul II aimed at bringing back devotions, even the Mother of Perpetual Help devotions that were sung and prayed weekly at my home church of the late Saint Thomas the Apostle on Detroit's east side.  I enjoyed them.  Who wouldn't savor prayers to Mary, one mom like all mothers who really are the center of families.

Moms calls us together.

My own mother of seven gathered us with dad around the table for supper, for study, for chores, discipline, boundaries, for the rosary, and, so much more.

Sunday, two merciful men will be canonized.

Praise God.

They are set apart as the rule by which the rest of us may line up our lives after Jesus the Christ, to get to heaven, unless one has other plans.

The ideal of the strength and virtue of mercy is in fact greater than justice.

It is.

Look at Pope Francis.

A merciful man, indeed.

He invites us to walk alongside of those estranged, condemned, forgotten, abandoned, looked down upon.

Moms are merciful, after all.

Popes and all of us are called to be that also.

Like the great Teresa of Calcutta who wanted those no one else wanted to care for and love, and clean, bathe and raise up in dignity.

There's a saint.

For sure.

Yet, I will rejoice that two others saints will also show us how to be more, to be better beyond bitter, bolder in the faith, and, in the daily trek we make in the trenches of people's hurts, desolations and consolations.

Praise God!

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