Thursday, 31 October 2013

feeling unloved .....

One gets to the point sometimes when one asks the stupid question of oneself: would the Pope like me?  It is a daft question and ultimately meaningless, but it is very human to feel unloved.  I have to say I think this is already a remarkable and brilliant papacy, it is gradually bringing out all the vile creeping things from under the stones and into the full light of day, long may this continue. However on a personal level, I'm feeling very misunderstood and unloved, but he's never met me, so that isn't his fault!

  • I'm relatively affluent, not materially poor-  I feel unloved by Francis
  • As a Catholic in an affluent part of the world, the people I'm amongst and the poverty I know I ought respond to with all my love is to be found in disaffected teenagers who own ponies, affluent homosexuals, ageing Tablet readers and alcoholics with wine cellars.  There aren't any favelas nearby for me to devote my energies and prayers - I feel unloved by Francis.
  • I'm happier attending the Old Rite.
  • I feel upset that he can say Mass on an altar with asymmetric candles and a flower display, and somehow feel this is a sign he doesn't love me- I need to get a life.
  • I'm a physicist, he's a chemist.  This is pure prejudice on my part, but chemists tend to believe in those wretched little things called atoms and it gives them a very different view of the world. The physicist is more metaphysical, less concerned with things that show themselves materially, the chemist is more down to earth and practical; often we have great difficulty in communicating with each other in a common language.
  • He berates "sacristy catholics"- I spend a lot of time in the sacristy and I love to make the fabrics look nice AMDG- I feel unloved by Francis who seems untouched by the power of freshly starched linen.
  • Our tastes in music are very different.  Wagner?- eeew.
  • He communicates through feelings and gestures.  My roots are Northern European and Oriental; feelings are to be controlled, indeed I was brought up to believe that showing one's feelings was tantamount to having some sort of hormonal weakness.  I live my life where love manifests in my will and my hidden actions and not in my feelings.  "...I can do no other"  ;-)
  • As far as I'm concerned, solitude rocks!  Francis is gregarious. We find God in different ways, God find us in different ways.
  • I like old skool Thomistic manuals, he doesn't.
So I wonder, if we met, if he'd have any time for me? I'll probably never find out.  The important thing is that he so obviously loves Our Lord and His Blessed Mother so much, so so much; and that ultimately is why God has chosen him, and that is why I will follow him, love him and trust in his leadership.

And Pope Emeritus looks so happy these days, not like a man who has made a BIG mistake.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Headhunters and Holy Souls

It is that time of year again; filling-in what we called up-North the "Pious List".  I'm writing down the names of the Holy Souls to be prayed for during the month of November.  The NLM has a rather cold post on why it is only the faithful for whom we pray, and indeed they are correct.  Liturgically, it is the faithful departed that fill our prayers on November 2nd and for the rest of the month.  The name of the list as the "Pious List" makes this abundantly clear.  This post is my meditation on the departed, in particular those who were not "pious".

Living quite close to Oxford, I do like to pop into the Pitt Rivers museum (a museum of anthropology), and whilst there I feel very close to my roots.  It could be one of my great grandfather's opium pipes in one of the cabinets.  It could actually be one of my ancestors or indeed a piece of their handiwork when I look at the cabinet of headhunted trophy skulls from the Iban people of Sarawak. I don't have to travel too far back in my ancestry to be in a very unfamiliar, heathen, and somewhat savage world.  These people had souls, these people had guardian angels.  They are part of me, I see their features in me.  I should pray for them, shouldn't I?

Iban Dayaks from Wikipedia: (Tropenmuseum source)

Another great grandfather was a very well respected and by all accounts good man.  He was very rich and donated money to charitable causes, many of them Christian.  He himself was Taoist.  My grandfather sat his scholarship exam for a Christian school under a portrait of his deceased father who was one of its benefactors.  A good man.  His wife became a Catholic after his death.  I should pray for him, shouldn't I?

Then there were the Japanese Navy Officers who during the Occupation of Malaya, forgot about sides and ethnic differences and protected my dad's life.  Their sense of duty to an infant first born son was stronger than any ethnic, religious or patriotic hatred of a Chinese Catholic.  Every time the air raid sirens went off, they'd rush to my grandparent's house to collect and protect my father.  They also provided him with food and medicine.  After the Surrender, as the Japanese Navy limped back home they were all torpedoed to oblivion by the US.  I should pray for them, shouldn't I?

And then there is Abdul.  Abdul was a Muslim homeless man who I got to know.  It remains a mystery how a Muslim  could end up homeless and destitute.  What had he done?  The Muslim communities are usually very good at caring for their own.  Abdul, however was destitute and relied on Catholic charity in his final months of life.  All the other men at the hostel that I knew were Catholics and their names make it to the Pious List.  What about Abdul?

Some non-Christians make it to my Pious List because they have been there for years, before I really thought about any of this, and it seems churlish to take them off.  Yet the prayers for these souls are very different from our prayers for the faithful departed.  Most people we encounter are gifts from God and Christ is the Sovereign of all people.  All are possible agents of Grace.  Some may be angels in disguise.  Our prayer for them is a prayer of thanksgiving to God.  When the Last Judgement is upon us, it will be how we responded to them that will largely determine our salvation.  God loves them, God knows what is in their hearts, leave their salvation to God, but give thanks and praise for their lives.  Though I'm sure a "Requiem aeternam" is also valid.

The faithful and in particular the Catholic faithful are another matter altogether.  They have been given (and indeed through Confirmation have themselves desired) so much; the very life of Christ.  Yet they have snubbed grace at every turn, just like we do.  They didn't nurture the ground for the fruits of the Holy Spirit to become manifest in them as they ought to have done,  just like we are doing now.  They were lukewarm, timid, forgetful, easily distracted and pride-filled, just like we are today. We know them so well, because we are so very much part of the same body.  The lowest, most painful depths of Purgatory will only contain Catholics; those given so much who squandered their gifts most stubbornly.  It is for those that our prayer is most sombre and most heartfelt. It is those for whom the Liturgy at this time is designed.  Our prayers for the non-faithful are part of our every day praise of God and are equally important. The Holy Souls in Purgatory are very close brothers and sisters to us, indeed one day they could be us. 

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Please pray for the repose of the soul of Michelle Scott, a truly delightful, strong and devout woman and good friend.  I never met her, but we shared our troubles and tribulations of the last 10 years, having got to know each other via Catholic internet chat rooms and later through blogging.

Pray also for the family she leaves behind.

Sitivit anima mea ad Deum vivum: quando veniam, et aparebo ante faciem Domini?

Eternal rest grant unto her, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon her, may she rest in peace.