I am neither a Catholic nor particularly religious.
Oh, I went to Sunday School, sang in the choir for twelve years, learned the Lord’s Prayer, the Twenty-Third Psalm, the Golden Rule, and some of the Ten Commandments — truthfully, I couldn’t do arithmetic to save my soul, so I didn’t try very hard to learn all ten.
I have Beliefs.
But also Questions.
I have Faith, but it’s my own warped brand most of which I learned from the Gospel of My Mom. She did good deeds all the time, but she didn’t necessarily think you had to go to church every week.
So I’m out of my comfort zone when I say how much I like the new Pope. Francis — would he mind if I call him Francis? — has a perpetual twinkle in his eyes.
I love a twinkle.
What’s not to love about a Pope who wears plain brown shoes, instead of fancy custom-made red slippers, and who personally washed the feet of twelve young people of different faiths not long after he was elected…inaugurated…anointed…whatever.
I like knowing he was a nightclub bouncer in Buenos Aires, that he had a girlfriend before he became a priest, and that he loved to dance the tango. How cool is that?
The white smoke had barely cleared the chimney before conservative Catholics started rattling their thuribles — incense thingies to us non-Catholics.
Last spring, an unexpected gift of two doves in a cage turned into a papal photo-op. The new pontiff released the birds, but one returned to perch on the holy fingers for a while. Another picture, taken from below the pope’s elevated platform, showed one of his entourage looking directly up at the underside of a dove in flight. His look said, “Please don’t poop on me, bird.” If that had happened, I’ll bet the Pope would have laughed.
A month ago a little boy climbed up beside Francis while he was speaking to thousands of people about the importance of family. The kid hugged the Pope’s knees and climbed into his chair. Francis smiled like a benevolent grandpa and patted him on the head.
Lately the Pope has been masquerading as a regular priest, dressed in black robes instead of white, and tending to the poor in Rome. He drives himself in a 1993 Renault with 190,000 miles on it, leaving the popemobile parked at home in the garage.
This man even has a Twitter account!
He’s the kind of person I’d like to know. An everyday guy who shocked his flock with his view on Faith: “If one has the answers to all the questions —that is proof that God is not with him. It means that he is a false prophet using religion for himself. The great leaders of the people of God, like Moses, have always left room for doubt.”
I know people who think they have all the answers, who have blind beliefs, and who never hesitate to espouse them. It’s their way or no way.
Drives me nuts.
I’ve always thought some Roman Catholic practices make life a whole lot easier. Confession, for instance. Do what you want Monday through Saturday, confess your sins Saturday evening, go to Mass Sunday, and you’re good to go for another week. Or communion. That’s real wine in those little glasses. Maybe not a good year, but still. And school uniforms, what a great idea! They take the drama out of dressing for school. Same clothes every day, identical hand-me-downs for all the children.
I’ve opened myself to criticism, maybe even exorcism, but here’s the thing: if damning comments show up here, I have the Power of Delete in my fingertips.
No criticism from me, my friend, I couldn’t agree more with your clever piece. However, I doubt the Roman Catholic Church can claim the right to the exclusive use of school uniforms. Where I come from – now and in the past – all pupils wear uniform, public, private and church schools alike.
Oh, and nor is Holy Communion the sole preserve of Roman Catholicism. The Anglican Church also practices Communion, with real wine (the fortified variety)- quite welcome on chilly winter mornings.
But, Jean, love, where I come from only parochial school students wear uniforms. And some chichi private schools, too, I think. I prayed for school uniforms. I should have made my point more clearly, and also clarified your point about public, private and church schools. You make a good point, but confusing to us Colonists!
We non-Church of England protestants have communion too, at least many do (not sure about Jehovah’s Witnesses and Baptists), but our “wine” is grape juice, and not even a good brand like Mott’s! But,if I were a Catholic taking communion, I’d ask for a nice white. Red wine gives me a headache! 😉 So far, the neighborhood exorcist hasn’t darkened my door…
One of your very best EVER. As I continue to struggle with understanding faith and all that is God, you summed up my feelings exactly…might be because you are my mother. I continue to subscribe to the belief that doing good would be what God wants us to do. So I subscribe to the Gospel of Grandmother…and continue to learn about God. Wonderful writing, Judith!
I hear mom’s voice in you…she would be so proud of your work. BTW, I’m sure God is Female (here come de exorcist) because Who Else could do so much in seven days? Or make a feast out of loaves and fishes, part the waters or, for that matter, walk on water?
Well…I couldn’t agree with you more. I appreciate him as a pope if he brings people along. Now, my husband on the other hand…not his sort of pope. But as a fallen Catholic not sure he gets a vote.
If I get a vote then so does Martin. I’ll have to ask via a different means,what his ‘sort of Pope’ is?
Another good one, Judy, and sure does exemplify our common upbringing in rural Ohio with your description of RC’s and (in my case)Grandmother’s Wisdom. I have liked what I read about Pope Francis right from the start of his tenure, altho as a staunch 6th generation Presbyterian(we were originally MacCreath’s from Scotland–where else!), I’m probably not a good judge. On her 90th birthday, my Nana’s message of how to live a long life was “try to do some Good each day.” ‘Nuf said! cj
You’re right, CJ! I hadn’t thought of the Ohio influence particularly, but when my friend Jean commented (above) I realized my main experience and observations with Catholics were from the first quarter of my life in Ohio.
What a wonderful post! I’ll have to make sure my hubby reads this one as he is what I call a “brain-washed Catholic.” Even though I converted from Methodist 20 yrs ago, I still have many doubts and questions re: Catholic religion and yes, I do believe that’s just wine in the cup and it’s just symbolic of Jesus’ blood. I’ll probably die and go to hell for believing as I do. I have had many thoughts about returning to my Methodist roots but with the new Pope I’ll wait and see. Hubby and I both think he’ll be good for the church and what a kind and wonderful person he seems to be. Heaven knows the Vatican needed a miracle to make so many changes so maybe he’s the miracle we all need.
Practically everyone I know could use a miracle or two. Thanks for your thoughts, Shelia.
Judy, I love everything you write. This particularly reminded me of our dear friend Beth. She grew up a strict catholic, but grew to despise the latest popes. I regret she did not live to know this pope. She would have adored him. John and I often comment how wonderful this guy is,and how progressive and liberal compared to his predecessors. Hopefully he can bring a little sense into the world. Keep up the good work. Sharen
Ah, Sharen, I thought of Beth as I wrote this, and of the several conversations we had on her questions of faith. Maybe she was sitting on my shoulder because I laughed a lot as I typed. I left out what I thought were the best bits. Thanks for your kind words.
Amen. He certainly has been a breath of fresh air for the Catholic Church. Love the way he treats those less fortunate among us!
And, awoman. 😉