The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old.The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been crushed by the present. You tell me: can you live crashed under the weight of the present? Without a memory of the past and without the desire to look ahead to the future by building something, a future, a family? Can you go on like this? This, to me, is the most urgent problem that the Church is facing.” It is not the only problem that we face, but it is the most urgent and the most dramatic,”
I am tremendously sad tonight. Shaken to the core as it were.
I read these words tonight for the first time. I did not understand. I’ve seen no tortured, twisting explanations of what they really mean. None of the army of experts, translators, interpreters, theologians both real and self proclaimed that always appear to explain the Holy Fathers words have stepped forward to explain the statements. And now for the first time in my life, I am afraid. I’m afraid for the Roman Church. My Church. The Church I never lost faith in or hope for, despite all of the nonsense, the abuses, the scandals, the abandonment of thousands of years of tradition and everything else that happened. I was always certain that the Holy Father and the Bishops knew what was going on and were working to correct it and that they knew what evils they and we were facing… I was sure of that, I never doubted for a minute. through all of those dark dark years. I was sure. I was certain.
I recently saw a video, a documentary on the Greek Orthodox Monasteries of Mount Athos in Greece. In it, a Monk was asked about evil and he was unequivocal about it. The most serious evil facing the Church and mankind was Satan and his demons and their warfare against the human race and God. Nothing else. He said that was why they were there. To pray unceasingly and fight against this greatest of evils.
And I have to wonder about the Holy Fathers statements for I have been shaken to the core by them and I am just not sure any longer. I hate to say that, and I never thought that I would, and I pray that God forgives me for it.
Consider more closely what is being said here and the context. The Holy Father is speaking to a secular atheist. If he said to him, before the entire liberal media, that the most urgent problem facing the church was “Satan and demons” - in fact I would say it was sin not that but never mind - do you really think that would have not made us into a mockery?
In fact the pope gave a very mature and reasoned response. He is speaking about how modern society de-humanizes people. It is a cut-throat world where only the economically strong and ruthless seem to have any true value.
If one cannot contribute to the system effectively, either as a young person by finding a job or as an elderly person past his working years, society could view such people as “useless” and they could be abandoned.
The pope is saying that our FIRST duty is to the least among the children of God, to the most helpless people of all - impressionable young who have lost hope for their futures and vulnerable old people who are left alone.
Mike, think about what Pope Francis said, in the same context as in the Greek Orthodox documentary you saw. How does Satan and his demons wage war against the human race and God in our modern society? By convincing us that the young who cannot find work and the elderly too old to work are “useless,” and whose life has no sanctity or dignity because of their “uselessness to society.” This is what Pope Francis means when he says we must not give in to this “throwaway culture”; this is the essence of what it means to be pro-life, because being pro-life doesn’t stop when a child is born (JPII’s “Consistent ethic of life”).
I’m beginning to grow weary off the papal apologists that are out there. The Holy Father is either doing a terrible job explain what he means or the media is skewing his words to a more favorable secular meaning. The third option is that he simply means what he says and that would be a terrible option to consider. What ever the case is, I’m a little more than frustrated.
First: Look around you at other Catholics. You’ll notice that most are going about their business as usual. Why? Because what the pope said above is not as unusual as you may think. When you look at it closely, the difference between what he said and what the monk said the the language, not the content. The monks is speaking about sin. The pope is speaking about a very grave sin, which is “disposable human beings” or “human beings a commodities”. The difference is because of culture, not content. A Hispanic would not speak the way that you’re describing the monk. It’s a very foreign way of speaking to speak in vague terms such as “devil, demons, evil”. The Hispanic gets more into describing the evil.
Second: I suggest that you stop and think. This pope is a religious priest, not a secular priest. Religious brothers, sisters and priests do not speak the same as secular laymen or secular priests. We’re trained in a certain culture, if you will. This culture has a language of its own. It also has its own priorities, which are not always shared by the rest of the world, but they are approved by the Church. This culture has a worldview of its own. This culture also has a mission of its own. A pope who comes to you from the religious life does not cease to be a religious. He’s not going to speak and think like a secular priest such as John Paul II or Benedict XVI. He’s going to sound and think like his order. In this case, we have a Jesuit pope. He’s going to think, speak and sound like a Jesuit. We have to get used to that. In time, he’ll get used to the idea that his audience is much bigger than what he’s accustomed to and he’ll adjust his speech a little as well. None of this happens over night.
Third: I also suggest that you stop and think about differences in time. Fifty years ago, what were the means of communication available to a pope? Today, popes can use Titter, text, email, blogs, the press, TV, and radio. Each of those means of communication has a pro and a con, like anything else in life. Let’s go with the press. When a pope speaks to the press, the pro is that he reaches more people than he would from the balcony at St. Peter’s on a Sunday or during an audience on a Wednesday. He will certainly reach more people than if he wrote an encyclical. How many people read an encyclical? The con or negative about the press, is that the pope, just like a president or prime minister, has no control over what the press chooses to publish. I can tell you from personal experience. I’ve been interviews by the press about my work. What they print or put on TV is a piece of what I said. When they cut, edit and paste, it sounds different or it can be confusing to anyone except the person doing the editing, because he knows the whole. But that’s part of today’s world. The pope is going to use the press and the press is going to do to the pope what it does to any other public figure. I’m not vilifying the press. The press is trying to capture an audience and they edit accordingly.
Fourth: Try to remember that there are many issues that the Church has to address. This takes us to agendas. Every pope has his agenda. From the list of “To Do’s” he’s going to pick those issues that fit his agenda and those that fit his personality. No pope is going to tackle issues that are out of his league. For example, Pope Benedict was a scholar. He tackled theological relativism and liturgy. Pope John Paul II was a philosopher. He tackled political ideologies and the way that youth thought about their faith. Pope Francis is a consecrated religious. He’s going to tackle social concerns and spirituality.
Fifth: I would strongly recommend that you read about the life and work of St. Ignatius of Loyola and his vision for his order. You’ll find that he and his Jesuits follow a mystical spirituality. When you see this, you’ll be able to listen to Pope Francis’ homilies or some statements that he makes and you can appreciate the mysticism that he brings to the table, which many people need. We’ve lost touch with the mystical side of Catholicism.
It is also important to know that St. Ignatius was not fond of piety. He, St.Teresa of Avila and St. John of the Cross were allergic to pious language. We tend to love such language as “we’re in a spiritual battlefield” or “we’re the Church militant and we have to get out there and fight for the faith.” This is not the way that the Spanish person of faith of the 16th century spoke. They were more military and more poetic at the same time. There was a toughness in their language. They also used very beautiful language. Terms like “sin, devil, evil, enemy, hell and condemnation” were used sparingly. But they were very good at describing evil, sin, hell and condemnation.
The Jesuits are sons of a Spaniard of the 16th century, just like I’m a son of an Italian from the 13th century. When we speak, we lean toward blending the language of our spiritual parents with that of our own culture today.
You’ll see this if you read something like the autobiography of St. Ignatius of Loyola. It’s not that long and it’s very good reading. He was an excellent writer. He really keeps your interest. It reads like a good novel.
I’m curious what you mean by the bolded, about mysticism. The Pope, and the Jesuits in general, seem to me to be more practical/grounded/worldly rather than mystical. What’s the mysticism that he brings?
The Jesuit tradition is very mystical, probably the most mystical of all the religious orders. It begins with the lessons taught to them by St. Ignatius himself. I’m not a Jesuit, so I don’t remember them all. Here are some that I do remember from my studies toward my degree. You’ll forgive me for my bad translation. I had to read them in the original Spanish. Here goes.
Leave every teaching open-ended. Never speak in absolutes, for God cannot be restrained. He will speak and he will complete each thought.
Begin each step with one simple question, what does God want me to do or what does God want me to say. Do not worry about what others say God wants from you. Let your heart be open to hearing his voice and his voice alone.
A Jesuit is a man who must never fit into any mold, because Christ cannot be contained in a mold. Make sure that no one imposes structure on you. Structure will impair your mission. Your mission is to do it all for the greater glory of God not for the sake of structure.
Here is my favorite. Let’s see if this comes out well in English.
To be perfect as God is perfect the Jesuit must be able to come from the greatest space and make himself so that he can fit into the smallest space.
Then there are Jesuit practices such as the Spiritual Exercises, solitude, silence, and the constant search for God in the heart not the head. The go from the heart to the head. First comes love, then comes understanding.
In Jesuit tradition love is spiritual, emotional, intellectual, volitional and physical. It embraces the whole man. If one of these elements is missing, the one has not reached the perfection of love.
Their name comes from the belief that God has specifically raised up their order to be His personal battalion. In order to fight for God, they must set aside all preconceived notions of God. There is no Catholic God, no Muslim God, and no Jewish God. There is only one God that all of us come to know and understand in his time. They must set aside the notion that God belongs to this group or that one. No one can own God. God cannot be owned. God can only be loved.
They have a very strong sense of the Incarnation. This is borrowed from St. Francis, whom Ignatius admired very much. You don’t look for God out there. While it is true that God is beyond us, that’s not where we’ll find him, because we cannot move outside of our time and space without God. We have to find God before us.
The body of Christ is present in the Eucharist and the wounds of Christ are present in the poor and voiceless.
Those are some that always inspired me. Their life of prayer is very mystical. They use a lot less ritual than even Franciscans. Trust me, we are minimalists when it comes to rituals. They use much less. For example, they pray the LOTH alone, even though they’re in the same house. This gives each one the opportunity to interact with the psalms. When you pray them in community, you have to keep moving with the group.
They never had a habit, because they are to be anonymous as Christ was anonymous for 33 years. When everyone looked all they saw was a typical Jewish boy, young man, and young adult. Like Jesus, who is pushed into public life by Mary, the Jesuit will be pushed into the public sphere on God’s time. In the meantime, he must do what is commanded of him and take care of what is before him.
He must have a preferential love for the poor, because Christ comes to us through the poor. If you ignore the poor, you risk ignoring Christ.
They have many wonderful lessons on the mystical life Their goal is to reach union of hearts with Christ.
I absolutely agree about the mystical side of Catholicism being largely absent in the modern age, and oddly “out of fashion,” by the way. (All the while, ironically, Catholics and former Catholics flock to various mystical trends in New Age spiritualities.) :hmmm:
“Youth unemployment” as a poetic term kind of doesn’t reach the standard of “poetry” for me. Call me weird. :shrug: In fact, “a spiritual battlefield” resonates as a tad more poetic than “youth unemployment.” :shrug:
youth unemployment and lonely old people are not the worst things in the world no matter how you spin it. If he meant treating people as disposable, then I might be more on his side, but that’s not what he said. I don’t care who he was talking to, those aren’t the worst things in the world or the most urgent issue facing the Church. Just because you’re talking to an atheist, doesn’t mean you can say things that just aren’t true so they’ll listen to you. Is that how the new evangelism works? If so, it’s going to fail. Isn’t he against proselytizing? How is spinning your words just so people will listen to you not proselytizing? Isn’t that manipulating people to get them on your side? What is wrong with just stating the truth clearly so that everyone can understand it and then take it or leave it? What is all this dissembling about? It’s just very worrisome to me and a lot of other people. If the Pope is having to be ‘explained’ every time he opens his mouth, there is a huge problem.
Try to stop worrying and just pray for the Holy Father. I know youth unemployment and lonely old people are not the worst things in the world. I don’t know why he said that and it is a worrying thing. But, there’s nothing we can do about it but just pray for him that he will speak the truth to people and lead the Church as God wills.
So many things here. Jesus was mocked for saying the truth. Yet we are to run away from saying the truth and being mocked? That is just worldliness.
“the Son of Man will be delivered to the chief priests and the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and will hand Him over to the Gentiles. They will mock Him and spit on Him, and scourge Him and kill Him”
Are we supposed to be like Peter and say, no Lord, that shouldn’t happen!! No, we are supposed to be like the Lord and accept the suffering of mockery for the Truth. It doesn’t matter who we are talking to, the Truth cannot be compromised in order to avoid mockery and disdain.
I’m not accusing the Pope of anything in what I am saying, but just responding to your comment that we should try to avoid being mocked for the Truth.
The most helpless people of all are not unemployed young people or lonely old people. You know who the most helpless people of all are and so does everyone else.
I am afraid that you have misinterpreted my meaning. I am not suggesting that we should, somehow, feel ashamed to be witnesses for the Truth. I am actually trying to explain to you that the “Truth” does not have one single means of expression. The Truth, the church’s sacred deposit of faith, is like a rich mine full of treasures that we can continually dig into and bring out some fresh manner of speech relevant to every age.
You must not mistake “language” for “substance”. In all honesty, the message Pope Francis is conveying is the very same message that every Pontiff has preached since Peter himself. All that is different, is the language used to express it.
Catholics have grown used to a certain mode of expressing the Truth. I think that many are too much attached to this “mode” rather than the Truth itself. The Pope has chosen a new manner of speech and a new vocabulary tailored to the needs of a modern, secular audience that expresses our faith in a fresh manner without losing any of its purity. It is not the “truth” that is new, merely the language it is cloaked in.
You should not take his pinpointing of “lost youth” and “lonely elderly” as limiting categories. He is using these two as examples of the kind of people who modern, consumerist society has ostracized in its insatiable quest for temporal satisfaction and endless profit. He is trying to fulfil Christ’s command of standing up for the oppressed and those who have no voice.
He is making a forthright statement on behalf of human dignity, of the sacredness of life and his refusal to permit modern consumerism to reduce human beings to “objects” with “uses” as opposed to people made in the image of God who are possessed of an inalienable worth whether or not they have the ability to effectively contribute to the financial system.
I was responding to your statement that we would be mocked if we came out and said that we believe that the demonic is what we are battling against. The Pope has actually mentioned the devil quite a few times in his short pontificate. I don’t know why he said that those two things are the worst and most urgent things that the Church is facing. Like I said, if he said that treating humans as disposable was the biggest problem, then I probably wouldn’t have a problem with that since it encompasses many things like poverty and abortion. But that’s not what he said. It seems like he was trying to tickle the fancy of modern secularists who have socialist concerns. I can’t say that for sure though and it is not my intention to judge his motivations in what he said. Those concerns are not bad but again, they are not the most urgent problems we are having. If he had said those are two examples of urgent problems then I would have no problem with it, but that’s not what he said.
Reading back over my initial post, I can fully understand why my usage of the word “mockery” made you reach the conclusion that you did.
My meaning, nevertheless, was not that we should back away from the Truth as a result of a fear for how it will be received but rather that we must use appropriate language to touch the hearts of different groups of people and indeed for different eras.
While the Truth stays constant like a mountain, its means of expression has never been such and has shifted like the sea as time has marched on.
Did not St. Paul say that we must be “all things to all people”? Let us therefore not limit the truth down to one single set of words appropriate for one specific audience.
That is all I meant. I think that many Catholics have become too attached to externals, semantics, modes of expression: variable things that do not impinge at all upon the essence of our Faith.
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