Saturday, April 2, 2016


Mother Angelica and Pope Francis have much in common in terms of their Italian personalities and being populists.

A populist is one who identifies with the working class, not the intellectual class. In fact they have a disdain for intellectuals because they are not down to earth and obscure for the general population what is important because they make what is important opaque or more complicated than it needs to be.

Mother Angelica could have been invited by simple people to their home and they would have felt comfortable with her there.

My Italian relatives say the same of Pope Francis, they would love to have His Holiness in their home and they would feel right at home with him.

Not so with academics. As much as I love Pope Benedict, I don't think my relatives would feel comfortable inviting him into their home because they would be intimated by his knowledge and intellectual ability. They would feel compromised in this regard and think there would not be very good discussion at the table.

Mother Angelica made the Catholic faith intelligible to rank and file simple, salt of the earth folks and excoriated academics who obscured the faith and made it distant through intellectual propositions. Pope Francis does the same thing. He brings the faith to the populace in earthy ways that is easy to understand and comprehend. And people feel that they are authentically loved by the pope as they felt about Mother Angelica in the same way.

These people also loved when Mother Angelica excoriated people she didn't care for too much, especially the professional class in the world; and these same people love Pope Francis when His Holiness does the same thing.

Both use pithy sayings that could be remembered.

Both focus on Jesus and not theology or the significance of sacramental signs as they are. They would not be into Eucharist as a grand meal of bread and wine where communicants eat and drink for this talk obscures Jesus, whom Catholic receive and who loves them. Eating and drinking, focus on the actual bread and wine and how it is grown and turned into what it is obscures Jesus and side tracks us from him as we contemplate all the other stuff.

When we focus on the symobls of the liturgy especially on ecclesiology and how the Church is made present when we gather around the table then we miss what we are doing and turn the horizontal into a false god or primary focus.

No the focus is on Jesus, Crucified, risen and returned to us. He is at Mass and in the Holy Eucharist whether or not we can actually eat and drink around the table holding hands and singing kumbaya!


GenXBen said...

Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are also populists. But I wouldn't let either one of them in my house. We live in a populist age. Populism is style, not substance.

rcg said...

I sort of disagree. A populist is making himself the center of attention. While both persons you describe are the center of the moment they do not make themselves the destination of the topic. I think you mean to compare the pastoral with the intellectual modes. The useful differences is how they support each other in our openness to God. It is a balanced diet for our souls.

FJH3 said...

I definitely disagree. Mother Angelica made the faith crystal clear in understandable language. Pope Francis uses simple language, and somehow the point about the faith he's making is most often clear as mud.

John Nolan said...

Nowadays 'populism' has a derogatory ring; a populist is a demagogue. I wouldn't want Benito Mussolini at my dinner table. On the other hand, I wouldn't be too comfortable with Pius XII or Paul VI. Francis and I would violently disagree about the refugee crisis and the Falklands. Benedict XVI of recent popes would be the best conversationalist on a wide range of topics. I'm not sure about JP II - Slavs have a tendency to become intense and introspective, especially after a few vodkas.