Friday, March 15, 2013

Give Us This Day Our Daily Crisis?



It only seems like it; there is no rule requiring newspaper headlines to include the word “crisis” whenever the Catholic Church is favored by a story. We journalists know about crisis, as more and more of our periodicals disappear into electronic sinkholes.

The church has a crisis of serious misconduct by clergy, and a crisis of too few priests, and a crisis of communication, among others. A lot of people really dislike the Catholic Church. Many who burn churches strike their matches in the name of their own religion. Public authorities stopped siccing lions on Christians a long time ago, but there are government officials who still forbid Catholic churches and arrest converts.

There are warnings in news reports that because Christian Evangelicals are gaining believers in huge numbers, the Catholic Church is in a – what’s the word? – crisis! Actually, the Catholic Church is in crisis whenever it is not challenged to pray more, shape its message more clearly and lead the world’s excitement about Jesus.

About Pope Francis--he's an easy person to love. Francis is almost everybody's favorite saint. In stone, carved wood or plastic he's in a few million gardens. A pope who thinks and acts like St. Francis will be welcome.

However, St. Francis did not begin a new ministry at age 76.

Nor did St. Peter.

In my attachment to Jesus I sometimes wonder what he would have taught, and exemplified, in growing old. He was and is always young.

There's a lot of beauty and satisfaction in becoming old. I'm on the way myself.

Everybody I know in my age group gets on well enough, but our conversation is less about last night's dance or next Saturday's softball game than about arthritis relocating to some new joints. There are lots of things we do well, but God did not design our machinery to run forever.

There are better bets than the elderly to take on one of the most physically and mentally demanding jobs on Earth. Think of how many people depend on the leadership of the pope for spiritual guidance and prayerful assurance not just that gout is out, but that sin is not in.

Even so, I'm hopeful. Pope Francis appears to begin every action with prayer, offering an example that may be taken up by all Christians, whether lay, ordained or tentative. I read in the papers that there are two popes if you include Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus. Then there’s a pope called Jesus.






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