Each day, I find myself more and more drawn to Pope Francis. Whether it’s his emphasis on inclusion, ecumenical acts, views on evangelization, or his concern for individuals over traditional dogma, he is definitely bringing change to the church.
In a free market society, individuals are rewarded (through monetary gains) for working hard. If we use a real life example, an individual working for a publicly traded company would likely receive not only a base pay but a bonus if they contributed to increasing the price per share of the ccompany’s stockholders. Sounds fair, right? Pope Francis has a bit of a different opinion, in that he feels “Unbridled capitalism has taught us the logic of profit at all costs, of exploitation without regard to persons.” (source) He believes one of the core issues of the global financial crisis we are facing today is due to a lack of “person-centered ethics in the world of finance and economics.”. (source)
Person-centered ethics. Think about that for a moment. On its surface, it sounds like something we could all support and stand for. No one deserves to go hungry. No one should have to live on the street. No one should have to earn less than a standard living wage. The challenge to this comes in when too many – or too few – regulations are put in place. If we move away from a capitalistic society, one where wealth accumulation is the focus, into more of a socialistic society, where product made for direct use and reward is more evenly distributed, would we still see the gains in technology, science, and so many other sectors that we are experiencing today? Would people work as hard individually if it meant that the reward wasn’t solely given to them but instead shared among others? It’s an interesting question to ask.
Even more prevalent is Pope Francis’s notion that “human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away. We have started a throw-away culture.” (source) Companies today continue to focus on training efforts and initiatives to muscle-build their organizations, often in an attempt to more with less, thereby increasing their profit margin. However, they are also more likely to lay off bottom-tier employees as opposed to cutting the pay of top-tier executives in order to meet their quarterly forecast.
With all the experience Pope Francis has in Latin and South America, and witnessing first hand the economic meltdown of these areas resulting in poverty and an ever-widening gap between the rich and poor, it’s no surprise that this issue is close to his heart. It’s something that, regardless of your economic or political views, should be close to everyone’s heart. We are taught in the bible – and in the creation of the Ten Commandments – that we are to worship no other God but God himself. Wealth accumulation, it seems, has become the idol – or perhaps the golden calf – of today.
Note: this post is linked to NOBH .
Before digging into this question, let’s first talk about the difference between beatification and canonization. After all, clarification is the whole point of the Popeinary – wouldn’t you agree?
When a person is beatified, it means they are blessed. But wait – aren’t we all blessed? Yes…but we are blessed in a different way than the how it is intended here. To be considered truly blessed, a person must not only have lived a life centered around Christian values but they must also have performed a miracle.
Now, while getting home from work in less than thirty minutes on a Friday night may *seem* like a miracle, there are also specific regulations around what constitutes a true miracle. For something to be a miracle, it has to be instant, comprehensive, and lasting. There’s a good chance our Friday traffic will be back the following week, so it is neither comprehensive or lasting.
Once it is shown that a person has led a solid Christian-focused life and has performed a miracle (or were martyred for their faith), they can be venerated in their local diocese. (For more information on veneration and worship, click here).
To become canonized, a second miracle must take place. Only a pope can issue the decree that a person is indeed holy and in heaven with God. Once canonized, a person can be remembered at liturgies through the year at any parish and not just the one in their hometown. They can also have a church dedicated in their name without consent of the Vatican.
So, it really comes down to a few key differences:
|Number and Location of Diocese that can celebrate||Limited||Limitless|
|Can become the Patron of a Parish||Needs the consent of the Vatican||No Vatican consent needed|
|Who initiates the request with the Pope||Bishop of the diocese where the person died||The Prefect for the Congregation of Saints|
|Type of Veneration||Usually limited to places closely associated to a person’s life||Formal decree by the Pope (inherent Papal infallibility), allows public remembrance of the person throughout the liturgical year.|
|Miracles Needed?||One that is instant, comprehensive, and lasting||Two – the first being the one that enabled them to become beatified, the second which takes place after their death as a sign of Divine approval|
So, now that we’ve cleared that up, back to the original question: do all popes become saints? The answer is no. While more popes have been canonized than those that remain “only” beatified, becoming a Pope does not guarantee you will become a saint.
Came across this wonderful article on USCCB a few days ago, and really wanted to share some of the points below. Sister Mary Ann Walsh does an amazing job of guiding us in how we can be evangelists by following Pope Francis’s example in today’s world! The article completely ties into a book I’m reading right now called Branded: Sharing Jesus with a Consumer Culture by Tim Sinclair (formal review to follow as soon as I finish this amazing book), where Tim talks about how the way we evangelize needs to change.
In her article, Sister Mary Ann called out these ideas on how Pope Francis wants us to evangelize (the color comments are mine…be sure to visit her article for hers):
- WITH REVERENCE: this could perhaps be the most important of his thoughts. It’s too easy to fall into the “us against them” thought pattern…as in, “my beliefs are right, therefore if you don’t share them then you’re wrong and unworthy of my respect”. Pope Francis takes it one step further by specifically calling out that we must not only listen but accept – there are many valid points that people outside of the faith make and we need to understand theirs before we can even think about sharing ours. It’s a bit of the pot calling the kettle black, you know? I know I sometimes find myself – as soon as someone expresses a different view – already making a mental conversation on points why they’re wrong. It’s a natural reaction, but one that – once recognized in ourselves – helps to lay the foundation for future dialogue and discussion.
- WITH HONESTY: being honest in our conversations ties directly into the “with reverence” point above. It’s one thing to sit with someone who doesn’t share your beliefs and nod your head in agreement while mentally creating counterarguments. This is not about right or wrong. It’s not about beating someone down with facts until they wave their white flag. It’s not about debating and backing them into a corner. It’s about having an open, respectful, caring conversation.
- WITH RELIGIOUS INTELLIGENCE: in order to have that open, respectful, caring conversation, it’s important for you to understand the different backgrounds each of us comes from. The world today is made up of people from many different faiths and ways of life. You don’t need to be an expert in each, but understanding – and appreciating – the differences helps guide you on the respectful and honest path. This reminds me of an amazing event our own parish does – on the night before Thanksgiving, we hold a “Children of Abraham” event where our pastor (Catholic) along with two other religions leaders (Jewish and Muslim) share a celebration of the similarities in each of our faiths. After all, we are all not only children of Abraham but children of God, and that alone makes us more alike than different from one another.
- WITH UPDATED KNOWLEDGE OF ONE’S OWN FAITH: it’s equally important to make sure you really know your own faith! For me, this was a direct hit home – during the recent Papacy selection, a dear friend asked many questions on the process…and I openly admitted I didn’t know the answers (that’s actually how this Popenary came to be!). In order to share our faith, we first have to know it. Really truly know it. Understanding your faith, and getting to know it better each day, is made even easier in today’s technological world. With great sites out there like the USCCB, CatholicMom, and so many others, information on your faith is just a click away.
- IN THE LANGUAGE OF THE DAY: it’s not necessary to begin a conversation with, “Dude, like, is God awesome or what?” – I definitely don’t think that’s what Pope Francis had in mind (though, if that works then go for it. But only if you live in California.). Sometimes, we can overwhelm others with the passion we have about our faith. We all know someone who is so excited and knowledgeable about their beliefs that we are bowled over in conversation with them! The language of today isn’t just about local colloquialism but about engagement. We must actively engage through personal relationships, connecting with people on that individual level, in the language and tone best understood by that person.
One of the things I’ve often wondered is what happens (gasp!) if the newly elected Pope doesn’t *want* to be Pope? I mean, what if he knew he were getting to old/sick, really believed that he wasn’t the right choice, etc.? Can he say no?
Interestingly, he can.
There were three previously elected Popes who all turned down the offer of the job – at least three, if you think about it. As the conclave is sworn to secrecy, it’s more than likely happened where someone has said no and they have had to make another choice – we just aren’t told. Back to the three that we “know” of – two of them were later made into Saints, so appariently there is some understanding if you say no, too!
1. St. Philip Benizi: during the long (three year!) papal election started in 1268, the cardinals were in heated disagreement over who should become the next Pope. Legend has it that – in 1271 – Philip Benizi came to the Cathedral to try to get things moving along, but fled and went into hiding when he heard his name was being considered as the next pope. Talk about not wanting the job! (source)
2. St. Charles Borromeo: not much info available on this one (no matter where I searched!), but in the 16th century, Charles Borromeo was said to have said “no” to the position. (source)
3. Cardinal Robert Bellarmine: again, not much info available other than that Cardinal Bellarmine declined his election in 1621. (source)
For me, this is such an interesting process. Unlike the election of a President of the United States, where a person willingly WANTS to become President and puts their name out there, this is so so different. You may not want to be elected Pope, but – through prayer – your peers may feel you are the best choice to lead the Church. What a strange, intense, powerful feeling that must be!
Note: This post also appears on Catholic Carnival .
Worship. Adoration. Veneration. Honor. So many words that might, on the surface, seem interchangeable but are actually very (very) different.
When we think of God, the Virgin Mary, the Saints, the Pope, our parents – one thing we are expected to do is to honor them. The type of honor that we offer up is quite different for each. Honor is a word kind of like “love”. I love my husband, I love my son, and I love dark chocolate…but each of those is expressed and meant in a very different way.
The highest form of honor is adoration and is exclusive to God alone. Known as latria, it recognizes that God is our perfect creator. He is One, He is infinite, he is a perfect divine being. We worship God during mass. Think about this for a moment. The primary action behind worship is sacrifice…and while we are not sacrificing a lamb at mass, we are giving God the sacrifice of our time, attention, talents, and treasure. No where else will you celebrate a mass where you are giving sacrifice to anyone besides God. You may celebrate a mass and remember or honor someone at the mass, but the sacrifice is always given to God.
The next, though lower, form of honor is veneration…you’ve probably heard it in things like “veneration of the cross”. This takes two forms: hyperdulia and dulia. This type of honor is for Mary (hyperdulia) and the saints & angels (dulia)…the good angels, that is! Hyperdulia is just that *bit more* of honor reserved just for Mary. As the chosen Mother of God, she holds a special place in his heart – just as she does in ours. Dulia is a similar though slightly lesser honor given to saints and (good) angels, and is something that is still above “everyday” honor. Unless you are declared a bonafide Saint, you are not venerated. There is no worship, adoration, or sacrifice associated with hyperdulia or dulia.
Everyday, or ordinary honor, is what we give to our Pope…to our parents…to anyone deserving. There is no worship, adoration, or sacrifice associated with ordinary honor.
When 1 Corinthians 3:11 reads “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”, it’s a fair question to wonder – if the foundation is already laid, why do we have a Pope? Further, how do we know Peter really was the first Pope?
First, it’s important to note that Jesus, knowing he wouldn’t be here (physically) forever, recognized his own mortality and instructed his disciples to carry out his work. Like any good leader, he knew his disciples would need a leader among them – and he gives the task to Simon Peter.
Jesus, as noted in Matthew 16:18-20, tells Simon Peter “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church (a), and the gates of Hades will not overcome it. I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven (b); whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven (c).” Wow – can you imagine how Peter felt when Jesus told him this?
The components of this conversation are so, so important.
(a) “and I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”. Here, Jesus gives Simon Peter the name Peter which, in Greek, means “rock”. He tells Peter that he will be the cornerstone on which the church is built.
(b) “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven”. In searching for keys within the Bible, Isaiah 22:21 comes up. “I will clothe him with your robe and fasten your sash around him and hand your authority over to him. He will be a father to those who live in Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David….” Just as the servant of the house was made second in charge and given responsibility for the house of David, so too was Peter made second in charge and given responsibility for the church. The papal insignia, shown below, includes these same two keys even today:
(c) “whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” This, too, continues to mirror Isaiah 22: “I will place on his shoulder the key to the house of David; what he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” The promise is the same, as is the decision-making authority behind it.
Not only was it clear that Jesus gave a special authority to Peter, but it was clear that the disciples recognized it as well. In John 3-8, Peter and another disciple ran to the tomb. The other disciple reached the tomb first, but waited outside until Peter got there and didn’t enter the tomb until after Peter went in first. I doubt it was fear of the dark that stopped him from entering, and more-so a deferment to their leader.
There are also numerous instances within the Bible where Simon Peter is shown to be just a bit different than the others. Growing up, we can all remember the story of the apostles fishing at sea, catching nothing, until Jesus tells them to fish on the other side of the boat. Know whose boat the were on? Simon Peter’s. At the transfiguration, Simon Peter was not only one of the three but the first to be mentioned. He was also the first to perform a miracle in the name of Christ.
In reading 1 Peter 5:2-3, I think our very first Pope truly understood his – and his successors – role. “Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”. Peter is not describing the papacy as a master/servant relationship, but instead focus on serving those that are in your care…be an example to them. Take care of them. In John 21:15-17, Peter is told several times by Jesus to “feed my lambs…tend my sheep…feed my sheep”. We, the believers, are the sheep being tended to by Peter, our first Pope.
I come back to 1 Corinthians 3:11 and see it in a new light: the Pope is not looking to lay a new foundation, he is instead looking to guide and serve us just as Peter was instructed so many years ago. The word Pope comes from the Latin word papa and the Greek word pappas, meaning “father”. This is what the Pope is to us. He is our father figure here on earth. He guides us when we are lost and offers an example through actions of how we should be.
I’m interested in what you think, and what other examples you know of. I see this “popeinary” as a work in progress, and would love to update it as time goes by.
…I must admit, in watching the selection of Pope Francis, I realized I had so many questions and yet didn’t know as much as I should – or wanted to – know. Later that day, when a Christian friend asked me why we even have a pope, I probably didn’t articulate as well as I could have. I muttered something about how he is the successor to Saint Peter, but – truth be told – I couldn’t answer much more than that. She followed up with a, “Do you worship him? Is he always right in everything? Can he say he doesn’t want the job even if the cardinals pick him?” It was like BAM-BAM-BAM – and the questions kept coming. Some I knew, others were questions I had asked myself.
So – research mode! I started to dig into these questions – and so, so many others – and realized there was so much information out there that to answer just a few questions on a single post would make the post insanely long. Instead, each question will be researched, reviewed, and compiled into the (un)official Popeinary – a dictionary for all things Pope!
|Click HERE to access the Popeinary|