…..fools to the left of me … the right of me….. here I am stuck in the middle …..scattered scattered  – I cannot seem to focus on any one thing these last 48 hrs – so much effort has been put into the day of reflection we presented on Saturday that the rest is now a blur………it has been a wildly busy time.  Are we not old and is this not supposed to be the time to slow down……..I was left with a blur, unsettled thoughts about what to do next and where when and how do I start.  The news has been full of the election the Pope and controversy surrounding all of it.  I myself even entered into some of that controversy which did nothing except unsettle me more……in the middle of all of this is daily living and doctors appts regular blood work dentists meals life…..CALGON TAKE ME AWAY.  Can you still buy Calgon???

When I left the OCS on 9-11, an interesting day to leave, I was filled with new resolve to live a new way of life.  As I sit here this morning the thought occurs to me – when is it going to begin.  The answer comes as readily – when you are willing to begin.  I am thinking perhaps today is the day.

I have been struggling all this past week with all the admiration this Pope is receiving.  He is the successor of Peter and many men have held this same position.  Why is this man now the new darling of all, especially the politically left leaning among us?  I struggle with this and then I think my answer came this morning while I was taking my shower.  You have heard of pillow talk before well let me introduce you to shower talk – I am not the only one who hears this either.    Another friend of ours gets light bulb moments in the shower as well.  As I type I am certain we, each individually alone in our own showers for clarity, are not the only ones.  The only real difference in pillow talk and shower talk is the ease of writing down your thoughts is not available. I keep pen and pad by may bed for pillow light bulb moments – the shower – well water inhibits any of that so one must rely on memory.  I did and here I am developing this stream of consciousness  conversation with myself.  While this will be public this is more for me than anyone else.

Let me start ( and maybe even end) with the Pope.  I have absolutely no right pontificating about this wonderful man nor his position.  This is the faith that I chose for many reasons.  Probably first it was my husband’s faith and I wanted one religion in our family.  Many other validations of my choice have come over the years.  PLEASE – this does not to negate any faith at all.  I believe in faith and church. My second mom said “I don’t think it matters what pew you sit in – just that you sit in a pew.”  She made that ever so clear to me once when she told me about her church attendance in Boston while getting chemo.  She was a Catholic now Protestant sitting in a church on Sunday  in Chinatown in Boston with my dad’s boss who was a Jew.  Now if that is not ecumenical I do not know what is!!!

My problem with this Pope is all the hoorah.  He is not the first Pope to come to the US.  Why is he being celebrated and touted as being so different from the last two?  Is he being seen as the second coming?  He is a different man in the same position of many before him.  His life work has been to serve as the other Pope’s before him.  Anyone elevated to this position is there from a life of service to Christ not just the church I believe.    What makes Pope Francis so different?  What makes the media see him so differently?  I have been chewing on this for a bit now and this morning was the light bulb.  I had to do some further looking.

What I found was very interesting regarding the media.  Before anyone jumps all over me, the media has reported widely on both the previous Pontiffs though maybe not in quite the same manner.  Pope Francis is getting a positive full court press and I wondered why.

While both the previous men were amazing as well their outward positions were not aligned with much of the media in the USA.  The agendas did not mesh.

Pope John Paul II – well you can read the summary. (1)

Plenty have been written and said about the remarkable journey of Karol Jozef Wojtyla, popularly known as Pope John Paul II, to the most sacred seat of catholic community in the world. Throughout his lifetime, he earned both the admiration and criticism for his stands and opinions and enjoyed great influence over the masses. Along with being the longest serving Pope in history, he was also the first non-Italian since 1523 to become the Pope. Considered one of the most powerful religious authorities of 20th century, he was instrumental in improving relationships of the Catholic Church with Judaism, Islam, the Eastern Orthodox Church, and the Anglican Communion. Never restricting himself to the comforts and safety of Vatican, he pushed aside the boundaries of religion, culture, caste and creed to spread the message of ‘God’ and apologized for the wrong doing and sufferings inflicted by the Catholic Church over the centuries. However, he defended the church’s decision to oppose the marriage of same sex couples for which he also faced great opposition. He vehemently opposed the various aspects of Liberation Theology (liberation movement in catholic theology) and also criticized the U.S invasion of Iraq, incessantly.

Pope Benedict:

During his time as a cardinal, Ratzinger’s liberal Catholic critics dubbed him “God’s Rottweiler” because of conservatives positions and actions such as his denunciation of homosexuality and same-sex marriage, his disciplining of Latin American liberation theologians, and his censure of Asian priests who viewed non-Christian religions as part of God’s plan for humanity. (2)

Ratzinger was elevated to the papacy on April 19, 2005, upon the death of Pope John Paul II, and celebrated his Papal Inauguration Mass five days later. Known for his rigid views on Catholicism, he has sought a more inclusive image as pope.(3)

In 2008, Benedict made his first visit as pope to the United States, where he spoke out against clerical sexual abuse and delivered an address at the United Nations. That same year, to foster relations and understanding between religions, Benedict addressed the first Catholic-Muslim Forum, a three-day conference of Catholic theologians and Islamic scholars.

All three men proclaimed Catholic values.  All three men really not wanting the job yet accepting, believing and living according to and in the shoes of the fisherman who came first.  Pope Francis, is seen as a new wave in the church.  I have to admit I did not understand it.  I was struggling with this man, as well, though you revere the Office.

I could not understand why he said it was not necessary to go to church.  Why did he say “If a man is gay and searches for the Lord …who am I to judge?”  I was confused when he stood in the well of the Congress and asked for capital punishment to be abolished and did not ask for abortion to be repealed.  Why bother speaking about climate change and gun control?  Then I read another article or two and discovered what he actually really said in some case and through conversations found clarity with the others.

One article quoted,  “Since the start of his papacy, Francis has sought to shift the hierarchy’s focus away from what he said is an “obsession” with sexual issues and toward a greater concern for the poor and all those rejected by the church and society, a social justice priority that many gay Catholics also share.” (5)

Then I saw an article about Mo Rocca. The article was from a militant church group (4) and they were incensed that Mo Rocca was a Lector reading the first Scripture during the Papal Mass at Madison Square Garden.   They described him as an actor, comedian and openly homosexual.   This struck me odd in this context.  I am not labeled openly heterosexual.  Why specifically when speaking about a church service was his sexuality mentioned.  In the context of church is not the prerequisite of our going that we are all sinners? This article was of course focusing on what they believed was Rocca’s sin.  I was very confused at first about what all the hubbub was about.  AND there it was in the shower – the light bulb – who am I to judge?

The media in this country is obsessed with liberal leaning pundits who focus in and aggrandize all the social issues so why would they not adore this man who is now apparently focusing specifically on a social agenda.  The issue, that was not coming across to me via the media, poured down on me like the water in the shower.   Pope Francis is still speaking the beliefs of the Catholic Church.  The Church in the Mo Rocca case has always accepted homosexuals. What the media is hearing now is a different lead line.  Pope Francis is leading with the Love One Another and feed the poor.

The light bulb said to me he is speaking acceptance which I live daily.  I love everyone.  I simply took for granted others did as well.  It evidently is new to some that the Catholic Church – the people in the Catholic faith –  actually does love everyone.  Pope Francis is calling us to love one another – something I live or try to remembering I am human too.  His message was not new to me so I could not understand all the flurry of newness.   That was the light bulb.  The Pope proclaims hope and reaffirms the promises of Jesus.  He is walking in the shoes of the fisherman and bringing us the same message as all Popes before though it appears many more are listening.  That is a good thing. The different way he is packaging his message is what is being heard first now.  New Pope new packaging that evidently appeals to more of the masses, certainly the media.  His message in Congress was really clear.

“This rule points us in a clear direction: Let us treat others with the same passion and compassion with which we want to be treated. Let us seek for others the same possibilities which we seek for ourselves,” he said. “In a word, if we want security, let us give security. If we want life, let us give life. If we want opportunities, let us provide opportunities.

“The yardstick we use for others will be the yardstick which time will use for us,” the pontiff said, drawing a standing ovation from the assembled House and Senate. (6)

I struggle with my faith and stand on scripture probably more than Catechism, truth be known, yet they really are one in the same if you do the study.  Probably more correctly speaking the Catechism is based directly on the Bible.  Regardless as Christians, followers of Christ, we are called to follow His standard for us all.  Pope Francis is continuing to proclaim that.

As with most of my blogs I come to the end more educated and find my own message.  Grounding – that  is what I need and that is one of the mindful gifts I am going to give to myself.  Back to the basics of a daily study of faith.  Daily prayers are good and not enough.  I need more grounding than that so this stream of words has brought me to a new resolve.

Last Saturday at our enrichment I was speaking to one of our friends and shared with them that I had a very interesting walk with and without faith in my life.  The part that really impressed me the most is that while I was all over the place God had not moved.  He was right there waiting for me to return.  Blessedly I did and receive His blessings daily through the gifts He has given me.  For all of that I am grateful.

Pope Francis said, “We have a father who waits for us. In the midst of our worldliness, He calls us his children. We are not orphans.”

Thank you.