Tag Archives: Catholic

Pope Brouhaha

Coat of ArmsPope Benedict XVI

Coat of Arms
Pope Benedict XVI

The news media has carried on in their usual way with regard to the retirement of the Pope. Headlines talked about it being “Shocking” and “Unbelievable.”

Say what?

First, when I’m 85, I hope I’m well experienced at being retired. Serving until death is a leftover from the days when the Monarch was expected to actively participate in combat and dodge assassination attempts. Life expectancy was much shorter.

The Catholic Church is like any large organization. Leaders come and leaders go. They tend to come from the same pool of candidates. I suspect that Fortune 500 CEOs reflect a lot of individuals with Harvard MBAs and who grew up thinking country clubs were a normal part of life.

I drive a Ford. I have no idea as to who is the current president of Ford, or who’s on their board of directors. It doesn’t affect me. To a large degree, the same is true of the Pope.

Large powerful organizations do both good and ill. With a two thousand year history, the Catholic Church has had more opportunities to experience errors, suffer from bad leadership, as well as do some good things. The bad stuff is more interesting to talk about.

Look at Catholics, as opposed to the Catholic Church organization and hierarchy. Like most other Christians we get up each morning, pray to do a good job, do some things right, screw up on others, ask forgiveness, and keep on going. Like other Christians we place our faith in Christ, along with our hope and love.

If the news media reported a month from now that the Catholic hierarchy had been unable to elect a Pope, it would not affect most Catholics. We’d still attend Mass Sunday mornings and try to live our faith on a daily basis.

Oh, God, No!

I wasn’t feeling real well that night after dinner. I tried to watch television, but I just felt so uncomfortable that I couldn’t, so I went to bed. If you’ll excuse the expression, I just plain felt like hell.

I tossed and turned. I got up and threw a few antacid tablets in my mouth. Surely it was nothing worse than a little heartburn. I lay down. I got up. Eventually I was able to fall asleep.

There was a bright light – like a tunnel. I felt drawn toward the other end and felt like I was walking toward the source of the light.

“Oh, my God, I’m dying!”

“Yes?” came a reply.

“What?” I answered, quite confused.

“You called me. You said, ‘Oh my God…’ so I answered you.”

“So I’m?”

“Sure looks like it, doesn’t it?” I just stood there, stunned. Everything around me seemed indistinct like it was foggy.

“Well, let’s see,” the voice continued. “You have faith, so that works in your favor. Not too bad a life overall. Nothing spectacular, but I grade on a very lenient curve.”

“So what does that mean?” I asked.

“Heaven,” came the reply. I realized that I had been holding my breath and I let it out all at once.

“Breathing is optional, here,” the voice explained. “Lots of folks find it helps keep things in perspective, but there’s no oxygen requirement.” The fog around me swirled together and became the form of a very tall and quite distinguished man.

“So let’s see where We’ll put you.” A large detailed, three-dimensional map appeared behind the figure. He walked over to a podium and waved his hand over it. As he did, different parts of the map lit up in different colors as he spoke.

“Let’s see… Baptists…Baptists who read the King James Version of the Bible – No… Baptists who practice full immersion…No. Christians – non-denominational…No

“Catholics…Here we go…Armenian, Byzantine, Hmmm, Roman Catholic.” Each time he spoke, a different part of the map lit up.

“Okay, Roman Catholic, Latin Mass/Douay Bible…No. Here we go, post Vatican II Ecumenical Roman Catholic.” One portion of the map began to blink brightly.

“Excuse me,” I interrupted without meaning to. After all, I’d figured out that this was God with whom I was dealing. “Uh, sir, I mean Lord. Why the map. I thought that in Heaven we’d all be together!”

“So did I,” He replied. “However, in order to have eternal happiness, I’ve had to precisely place all the Christians. I can put Anglicans – or as you call them – Episcopalians next to modern Catholics. I can put Contemporary Methodists in the same neighborhood. Lutherans aren’t too much of a problem either, but it gets more complicated from there, then even more complicated, then – well you get the picture.

“This can’t be!” I exclaimed. “It’s like exclusive neighborhoods based on which church people attended!”

“Yep! Crazy, ain’t it?”

I realized this wasn’t the Heaven that I had hoped for.

“If you let me go back, Lord, I promise I’ll be more open to other Christians! I promise I’ll cherish all your children. I promise….”

I woke up with a start and sat bolt upright in bed.

“I promise I’ll never eat a jalapeno, chipotle, anchovy pierogi with hot sauce before bed ever again.

“Oh, and I promise to be more Christian and love my neighbor as myself.”