Friday, May 10, 2013


The following is from Vatican Radio's take on Pope Francis' homily this morning from his Vatican Motel 6 chapel place of residence. It left me speechless so I really have no comment as I can't stop laughing from his "pickled pepper" metaphor!

(Vatican Radio) Christian joy is a pilgrim joy that we cannot keep ‘bottled up’ for ourselves, or we risk becoming a ‘melancholy’ and ‘nostalgic’ community. Moreover, Christian joy is far from simple fun. It is something deeper than fleeting happiness, because it is rooted in our certainty that Jesus Christ is with God and with us.

This is the lesson that Pope Francis drew from the Acts of the Apostles at Friday morning Mass as he described the disciples joy in the days between our Lord’s Ascension and Pentecost and what we can learn from them. Mass in the Santa Marta residence chapel was concelebrated by the Archbishop of Mérida, Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo, and the abbot primate of the Benedictine monks Notker Wolf, and was attended by Vatican Radio staff accompanied by the Director General, Father Federico Lombardi. Emer McCarthy reports:

"A Christian is a man and a woman of joy. Jesus teaches us this, the Church teaches us this, in a special way in this [liturgical]time. What is this joy? Is it having fun? No: it is not the same. Fun is good, eh? Having fun is good. But joy is more, it is something else. It is something that does not come from short term economic reasons, from momentary reasons : it is something deeper. It is a gift. Fun, if we want to have fun all the time, in the end becomes shallow, superficial, and also leads us to that state where we lack Christian wisdom, it makes us a little bit stupid, naive, no?, Everything is fun ... no. Joy is another thing. Joy is a gift from God. It fills us from within. It is like an anointing of the Spirit. And this joy is the certainty that Jesus is with us and with the Father”.

A man of joy, the Pope continued, is a confident man. Sure that "Jesus is with us, that Jesus is with the Father." He asked: Can we ‘bottle up’ this joy in order to always have it with us?

"No, because if we keep this joy to ourselves it will make us sick in the end, our hearts will grow old and wrinkled and our faces will no longer transmit that great joy only nostalgia, melancholy which is not healthy. Sometimes these melancholy Christians faces have more in common with pickled peppers than the joy of having a beautiful life. Joy cannot be held at heel: it must be let go. Joy is a pilgrim virtue. It is a gift that walks, walks on the path of life, that walks with Jesus: preaching, proclaiming Jesus, proclaiming joy, lengthens and widens that path. It is a virtue of the Great, of those Great ones who rise above the little things in life, above human pettiness, of those who will not allow themselves to be dragged into those little things within the community, within the Church: they always look to the horizon".

Joy is a "pilgrim," Pope Francis reiterated. "The Christian sings with joy, and walks, and carries this joy." It is a virtue of the path, actually more than a virtue it is a gift:

"It is the gift that brings us to the virtue of magnanimity. The Christian is magnanimous, he or she cannot be timorous: the Christian is magnanimous. And magnanimity is the virtue of breath, the virtue of always going forward, but with a spirit full of the Holy Spirit. Joy is a grace that we ask of the Lord. These days in a special way, because the Church is invited, the Church invites us to ask for the joy and also desire: that which propels the Christian's life forward is desire. The greater your desire, the greater your joy will be. The Christian is a man, is a woman of desire: always desire more on the path of life. We ask the Lord for this grace, this gift of the Spirit: Christian joy. Far from sorrow, far from simple fun ... it is something else. It is a grace we must seek".

Pope Francis concluded that today the presence in Rome of Tawadros II, Patriarch of Alexandria is a very good reason to be joyful: "Because he is a brother who comes to visit the Church of Rome to speak," and to walk “part of the path together”.


WSquared said...

Okay, the "pickled peppers" thing just brightened up my morning! Thank you, Father (and Holy Father)!

Msgr. Charles Pope over at the Archdiocese of Washington blog often says that we "shouldn't go around as if we've all just sucked a lemon."

Loving the Holy Father's homiletic style. It's the little touches like "Fun is good, eh? Having fun is good" and " makes us a little bit stupid, naive, no?" that are just so Italian, for a better way of putting it. And as for wanting to have fun all the time making us a little stupid and naive, he's dead on.

It applies to coloring-book Catholicism in spades. Our Sunday Visitor recently ran an article about parents who don't make the faith a priority a contributing factor to young Catholics losing their faith in their teens. What also compounds the problem is when parish youth ministry makes the enterprise about fun and games and not enough about catechesis and prayer: in other words, both approaches leave them on the "existential peripheries" by obsessing over what is tangential rather than concentrating on fundamentals. This is what the more horizontal approach does, in any case: it tries to "bring people to Jesus" without first even knowing, and renewing its knowledge of, Who Jesus Is. It presumes that it's all about being "nice" and "neighborly" to everyone, and then God just signs off on it. Which is ass-backwards. That which lacks substance ends up being hokey...

...and to put it bluntly, deeply insulting: when we accept the narrative that "religion" is mostly or exclusively an emotional thing, we've already ceded way too much ground, and unnecessarily. And all we end up forming is spiritually and intellectually schizophrenic small-c "c"atholics who both expect a more "emotional" experience in Catholic worship and practice (whether they want an electric-blanket religion in Flannery O' Connor's words, or whether they want something convenient to sneer at when they "deeply feel" they've "outgrown" it), and who throw hissy fits with regard to the "hard teachings," because they're incensed that the Catholic Church demands that they actually use their brains instead of worshiping them (to give one pertinent and telling example: receiving the Eucharist in a state of mortal sin, because for example you think that contraception and abortion are permissible, is spiritually untenable because it is logically untenable by definition: you can't claim to choose for Jesus and not-Jesus simultaneously). It's no surprise that what makes all the difference is Eucharistic Adoration.

Again, Pope Francis is reminding me of many an Italian priest-- as in actually from Italy, transplanted in North America, or their parents are from Italy, and everybody still speaks Italian at home-- I've known over the years. Pope Francis hits the same kinds of homiletic notes that they have, whether they gave their homilies in Italian or in English.

One such priest at Mass once noted that everyone was singing that "Prayer of St. Francis" song off key, and he responded, "I'll tell St. Francis that we're sorry."

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, WS, the Italians are eating his homilies up because he talks like an Italian when he speaks Italians, especially this "eh" thing which is not like the "eh" of Canadians, but like "no" when Italians use it but it actually means yes, like or like the Fonz from Happy Day would use aaah!

WSquared said...

I spent my teen years in an Italian neighborhood in Canada, so I learned to distinguish between both forms of "eh." ;)

rcg said...

Must be the Jesuit reputation for toughness. Just watch out if Cardinal Pel will probably start telling his congregation to 'Harden up'.

Anonymous said...

The pope talks like an Italian because he is an Italian, albeit one from South American (Pope Francis is neither a Latino nor Hispanic).

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Yes, the Holy Father is Italian having grown up in Argentina. But because of that I think you can still say he is a South American and Latino in that since. My mother is a full blown Italian, my father is a full blown Scottish Canadian but we left Italy when I was three and I grew up in Georgia. Surely then, I can be classified a southerner, eh? no?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Italian also use "eh" elongated to responded to someone who is telling a story or exaggerated truth, " senti!" Questo no e vero!

Gene said...

Know what you call an Italian with two broken arms?
Speech impaired.