Thursday, October 31, 2013

Dealing with Fear of Francis

If you find your traditionalist self a little appalled and worried about some of the things Pope Francis has said (or was reported to have said), then of course you are not alone.  I know I have had moments of trepidation and foreboding, and I must say I am sick to death of reading the re-interpretations of the media interpretations of the Pope’s words; it sounds a little too much like excuse-making and glossing-over for my taste.

That said, there is a way to put your mind and heart at ease over this current situation.

Listen to these two recent sermons from the Audio Sancto website: “Christ is the Point” and “Spiritual Contraception” (no, the second one is NOT about NFP!). I am working on a transcript of each, but that takes time; I encourage you to listen to these in the meantime!

I’ll provide a little synopsis of each; but there’s much more to be discovered when you listen to them in their entirety.

In the first sermon, the priest reminds us that there have been some pretty bad popes in the past, and some pretty egregious things have happened in the name of papal authority. What we have now pales by comparison (at least at the moment!). And the bottom line is that Christ is the point. The gates of hell will not prevail against the Church, and we must not let our human fears hinder our faith, regardless of what our shepherds are doing and saying.

The priest gives this analogy and explanation: Imagine you’re on a boat, and there’s a big storm. You’re holding on for dear life when you realize that the captain and crew are having a drunken brawl in the wheelhouse. What do you do? Jump overboard?! Of course not! You are safer in the ship, of course; it’s a storm, so you hang on. Well, we’re in the Catholic Church, the ark of salvation; we’re already on a ship that can’t sink, that won’t sink. Even if there are drunks in the wheelhouse, we need to keep our perspective, remain calm, and hang on.

In the second sermon, the priest reminds us that the Holy Spirit is in charge of the Church. Even if we believe that “a few puny men” have conspiratorially taken over key positions in the Church and are wreaking havoc that they have been planning for decades, we must realize that they have not done so out of their own will and strength. “Either God’s in charge of the Church, or He isn’t; it’s that simple”, says the priest. Rather, God has not only allowed the current crisis to occur, He has willed it as a chastisement and a correction for the widespread failure to uphold the teachings of the Church – amongst the laity and clergy alike. 

Quoting St. Gregory the Great, the priest says, “Divine justice provides shepherds according to the just deserts of the faithful”.  This is a scary thought; some people said during the papal conclave that we should pray that God give us what we need, not what we deserve. Well…

Go, listen to the sermons! I will do my best to put them in written form ASAP.


  1. Yes well, we live in a time when most Catholics have either an exadurated view of papal authority (the (neo)conservatives: or a minimalist view (the so called Progressives)

  2. Another friend posted these sermons on his blog...thanks be to God.
    Now here you have the posted today Dr. Jay on your blog...
    I must TRUST and remember at all times thast GOD is in job is not to condemn the Holy Father but to pray for him and for the Holy Catholic Church because it is HIS CHURCH and the gates of hell will not prevail against her.
    I am called to LOVE and to be obedient to HIS WAYS, HIS CURCH and the Magisterium of the Holy Catholic Church. Let us fall to our knees and pray for Pope Francis and the Holy Catholic Church and thank God everyday that we are Catholic ....a soldier for Christ !

  3. In terms of there being bad popes in the past: Yes, this is true. Many of the popes have been terrible leaders. But when in the past did popes teach heresy?

    Regarding the ship analogy: What if you can clearly see that the drunken crew who are brawling on the deck are steering the ship straight into the rocks? In that case getting into a lifeboat would be much safer than staying on board.

    Or to make the analogy more relevant to our current situation: Let's say that you were on board HMS Bounty. Would you stay with the mutineers who took possession of the ship, or would you get on board the lifeboat with Captain Bligh?

    Where is the HMS Bounty at the point when the mutineers have taken over the ship and forced all the loyal members into the lifeboat? Is it in the big boat full of mutineers or is it in the small boat with Captain Bligh?

    To answer the sermon's rhetorical question, it was much safer to leave the ship --even though it appeared to be much more dangerous at the time. Captain Bligh steered the lifeboat 3,000 miles through uncharted waters and returned all the loyal sailors safe to England. The mutineers enjoyed a short period of idyllic happiness in the South Pacific, but soon most were arrested and hung, while the rest murdered each other on Pitcairn Island.

    -John G.


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