Friday, March 22, 2013

The Ritual- Portraits down, portraits up?

One of the lesser mentioned effects of the abdication/inauguaration equation was the "ceremonial" aspect of removing the likeness of the reigning Holy Father from institutional buildings (parish centers, rectories, schools, etc.) and installing some sort of "official" portrait of the new pontiff in that place upon the ASAP principle and availibility of same.
In one's own house, well.....mine, it's a different story this time around. The Pope Emeritus lives yet, if not reigns. His portrait in my entryway still occupies the center of the archway entrance to the living room, with Bl. JPII and a blessing from his time flanking. On the right side of our tiny (entry) narthex, above my family geneological document and portraits remains the Benemerenti signed by Benedict, even if by some mechanical proxy. It is my most prized, non-animate possession now.
But, in all the hussle/bussle that the resignation prompted, and subsequent blitzkrieg of photos and info about good Papa Francesco available on the web and I'm sure in religious stores, I can't seem to work up the nerve to ensconce his portrait at the nexus between Benedict and Blessed JPII as of yet.
What am I waiting for. Der Heilige Geist hast gesprechen! Francis is Cephas. What compels me to delay the symbolic affirmation of that in the church of my home?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ad Reorientem

Shark feeding frenzy. Indiscriminate, look for any opening, any spot, any open wound, bite anything that resists, including one of your own kind.....keep it going as long as possible until?

This serves, for me, an apt description of  blogdom's and the various media's approach to covering the stop-motion, every choreographed move of His Holiness, Francis just this week, not to mention his first days, the outcome is unpleasant. And that's fine. "He came to comfort the afflicted, and afflict the comfortable." Yeah, yeah, blah, yada yada. Francis is pissing off the establishment. "Damn right, God bless him."

Francis is giving the Socialists the bird. "Damn skinny, God bless him." But what unnerves all the gawkers, pretty much most of us, is "Okay, Francis is re-enacting his namesake's pure agenda, and certainly imitating Christ, even if beyond the socio-gender constraints of historical customs. And now, he's slamming that emPHAsis home with the Mass of the Mandatum (inwhich the institution of the Eucharist has been sublimated, it's okay, I'm still good) at a young people's prison in Rome this Holy Thursday. Fine.

He's the POPE OF THE POOR, the PEOPLE'S Pope, he's beyond Gregory I's Servant of the Servants, he's setting a Bonneville land speed record for example-making of being a TRUE CATHOLIC.

It has been long quoted that the Church isn't a hotel for paid up believers, but a hospital for sinners. Got it. But the hard and fast truth of the gospels is that Jesus once remarked "The poor will always be among us." Okay, got that too." The institutional aspects of raising hope and glory for the Jewish day of resurrection had its tangible outcomes in the manner and effect of the erection of the first and second Temples, stones and mortar, bricks and mortar, then adornment and ritual. And why would it inheritor institution eventually not seek out that tangible affirmation when it assumed social and legal legitmacy with the first affectation appropriating the Roman basilica as an institutional "statement." Well, probably like then when disaffected Roman citizens in all provinces eventually noticed and said "This will affect me and mine," to whom are these haste, damn the torpedos, full speed ahead evangelical tactics designed to convert? The poor, the outcast, the stranger, the starving artist, the despairing philosopher suffering in his bath of towels?

I'm advancing the notion that whether overt or covert, whether intentional or incidental, the target of all this papal "full, active and concious participation" is the vast expanse of the faceless herds of bison that are the Roman Catholic "silent majority." Francis doesn't (obviously) hold these hundreds of millions of souls as "know nothings" to which pearls of wisdom are occasionally tossed among pathetic homilies and inept managerial schedules evident at rectories and parish admin offices 24/7/52/365.25. No, Francis understands, that come hell or high water, this Church needs to get off whatever its dime is, and move. I don't question whether he's thought it all out. Benedict, my prince, has thought and thought and thought, and rightfully so, that's who he is. And if we, the great unwashed, had bothered to know how to answer his question, "Church, who do people say that I am?" correctly, we'd be a helluva lot better for it now. But we failed B16,

like we have most saints. I ain't the first to mention Padre Pio lately.

For some strange, almost perverse reason, the Beach Boys' opening phrase of the song "Wouldn't it be NICE...." inhabits, like the earworm, my thoughts.

But very little of this third millenial narrative could be called "nice." Nice is, in its way, is a rococo (sorry, used it twice) epithet that masques its true nature by an opposite inference. Nice is schiedt, as the Gaels would say.

We must, as a species, move forward announcing and articulating how we clearly act in this life "The Kingdom of God" with both abject simplicity (found in the scriptural texts unrefined) and with nuance (in the resultant theology.) But we cannot move forward with infidel warriors of all stripes saying we are a farce and a pox on humanity, not worthy of propogation, of respect, of dignity. We have to turn the other cheek every damn single time. First I say, to each other who professes the same Credo. Then to any other neighbor with whom we commerce. Then to the whole freaking world: Credo: St. Patrick's Breastplate.

And if Francis can help advance us from "Be not afraid" to "Be still, and KNOW that I am God" I say go head on Papa, do your thing rooted in a tradition and institution, for better or worse, that has kept the keys from crumbling before we get to the lock, and we'll be right behind you. Not demography, but in flesh and blood and water.