Wednesday, March 20, 2013
SPLENDOR AND BANALITY
Pope John XXIII is said to have come from the peasant class of Italy, yet he reveled in the splendor of the papacy. Every pope has a particular style and all seem to have been good stewards of what was passed onto them, not wasting the treasury of style or art given them.
For practicing Catholics who understand the papacy and that it transcends the man who is the pope, there has been a consistency in papal style. Frankly we know it comes from the monarchical class, yet is also viewed as the reversal of values when monarchies and dictators suppressed the Church and the Church was victorious.
We also know that the monarchical elements of the papacy are meant to point to Christ the KING and His KINGDOM. His kingdom is not of this world and the streets of heaven are of course made of gold. It is about the institution of the papacy, not the man who happens to be pope at that time. The same is true in the secular sense here in America. We respect the office of the President no matter who occupies the White House. The Presidency transcends the man who might be the president!
But private revelations of some saints have said the beauty of heaven is so brilliant that it would make any diamond on earth appear as charcoal!
So, does the elegant, monarchical style of the papacy give hope to us poor miserable sinners mired in sin and poverty, who have nothing?
Let me give an example. Our splendid church built by the Jesuits is open all day and we have people coming in every day and thousands during the Cherry Blossom Festival. Many of our parishioners are poor. Yet when they come to our church, they feel rich and call this church their church home!
We might live vicariously through the pope and the palaces of the Church and its rich history of art, architecture and vestments and other clerical garb.
It all depends on the person who is the pope. Pope Francis could be as splendid in garb as some of the pictures below and still go to the slums of India like mother Teresa and take off the splendor and get his hands dirty helping the poor. The two elements of what the Church shows forth are not either/or but both/and!
Are these pictures a put off, a distraction or point to something we all hope will be the KINGDOM of HEAVEN?
OMG, did someone forget to tell the new Holy Father, Pope Benedict eight years ago, that he must wear a long sleeve white shirt with french cuffs and cuff links or did the Holy Father send a message to the world on the Loggia that day by wearing an ordinary black sweater?