Category Archives: Radical Tradition

Mass Tourism VII – St. Sebastian, Garmisch-Partenkirchen

See introduction to Mass Tourism series here for the motivation behind these essays.

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Sunday morning (Nov 13), I left to attend St. Sebastian which posted a Latin Mass time of 10 AM. This tiny chapel in the middle of town at a sharp turn on the historic Ludwigstraße was built in 17th century and is the oldest church in Garmisch, if not the oldest building there altogether. All psyched up to attend Mass in a foreign country with no ability to “low-profile”, I arrived at the door which was locked shut. Peering through the dark windows, it seemed no one was there. A note tacked to the door revealed the situation, albeit in German. I was sure it stated that the Mass was postponed to 6PM. Nevertheless, I waited until the prescribed hour before returning to the apartment.

I decided to stop by the Netto market for bread but, wouldn’t you know, it was closed Sunday as were most businesses. Once upon a time it was true in America (and still in some towns)—that Sunday was a holy day of rest and one managed to reckon that fact into the week.

[Aside: Imbued by the culture, I have come to expect that stores will be open 24/7 for my convenience. I am convicted of the idea that we should return to a Closed-Sunday culture if not for religious purposes, but simply for the health and sanity of American society warped on money-making. Once attending a travel soccer game far away in Charlottesville, another father who I usually sat with was mocking the idea that local stores would be closed on Sunday for religious purposes (e.g. Chic-Fil-A). I just smirked in response but what I really wanted to say was, “You jerk! Do you think other families would like to spend time together at least one day of the week like you do? Is it so important that you get your hamburger value meal and a venti coffee at any hour of your life that others must scratch out a meager living to accommodate your every wish?” But I relented since I don’t exactly boycott businesses on Sunday myself.]

I returned to the chapel at the re-appointed time when all was dark and the streets were mostly empty. This time the chapel was open and some people had shown up. As I entered through the old wooden door, I immediately remember what Sigrid had told me, that there would be a group of people saying the rosary. I listened intently to determine what prayer was being uttered in German. The Fatima prayer almost sounded like the English version.

The chapel is very small, about 8 rows of pew split with a center aisle, each side wide enough to seat 3-4 people. There was absolutely nothing ergonomic about the sitting, the old pews possibly designed for function alone and no comfort—perhaps even mortification. I was forced to sit completely erect as the back rest shot a straight vertical with a seat slightly better than a 2×4 plank. Kneeling was no better, the kneeler raised so high, my feet could not touch the ground and my upper body ready to topple over the pew in front of me.

At the head of the church, the tabernacle was positioned tightly to the left side of the altar as if space would only allow that location. Above the altar was an old darkened painting of St. Sebastian, characteristically riddled with arrows and a doleful look heavenward.

Two priests entered through a side door, the celebrant being a man very young—around thirty—not something I imagine when I think of a Catholic priest. It was not just in my head that he fixed a prolonged stare on me–the oddity in this small chapel of senior women. Who let the American riff-raff in?

Ah but I had prepared my missal for this moment, reckoning that it was the 26th Sunday of Pentecost and my kindle at the ready with highlights. Mass started with Asperges, the traditional rite of sprinkling holy water on the congregation while the same traditional introit hymn is sung. The pews had been provisioned with a gray book Gotteslob which I saw in every church in Germany—an all-purpose book for the new liturgy and hymns. This chapel, however, had an additional small green booklet that was the hymns and responses for the High Latin Mass. For the most part, the Mass followed the words in my electronic Missal for the appointed day. Those parts where I was versed in the response, e.g. “Domine, non sum dignus ut intres sub tectum meum…” I made sure I was clearly heard so that everyone could be at ease that I just did not stumble into their singular worship service after touring Ludwigstraße purchasing bratwurst and souvenirs. American Riff-raff my foot!

Communion was kneeling at a 4-person altar rail which took all of 2 minutes. In this form of the Mass the communicant does not say Amen or anything—just quietly take the consecrated bread by mouth. I received the Eucharist in my mouth which I wasn’t nervous about. I think kneeling to take communion at an altar rail provides a certain level of security.

I meandered out of the Chapel after the final hymn. Waiting outside was the man sitting behind me. He was a distance from the door as if waiting for his spouse to pop out so that they could go home–typical. He looked at my brightly, “Guten Nacht.” I smiled and responded the same in my feeble German as I turned to go back to the apartment in the opposite direction.

Garmische-Partenkirchen

Kimberly and I are in Europe, combining our 25th anniversary, pilgrimage, and an opportunity to stay at a friend’s apartment in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. And now I can see why my friend abides here several times throughout the year. It is astoundingly beautiful with Zugspitze and other towering alpine peaks guarding the town on all sides, its historic cobblestone Ludwigstraße with restaurants and shops, and the handsomely built Bavarian homes with dark wood accents, gable carvings, tiled roofs and white stucco walls. Indeed, Garmisch-Partenkirchen looks like the place Busch Gardens tried to pretentiously replicate in their theme parks.

But Garmisch-Partenkirchen has a deeper beauty Busch Gardens could nor would ever attempt to replicate, a beauty forged from centuries of tradition and spirituality that calls from an integrated Papal Christian Europe.  On walls and in windows, be it a home, hotel or bakery, are crosses (cum corpore), statues, and images depicting Jesus, the Virgin Mary, Apostles, saints, or scenes from the Bible. In backyards, amid fields, and along roads are numerous small gabled shrines of the crucified Christ. These are created in the artistic tradition of the West to forever proclaim the gospel to an illiterate world, not because Gutenberg had yet to mass produce books centuries ago, but because Zuckerberg has mass produced social media on Facebook in our own day, heralding another dark age in which knowledge is not burned by the barbarian hordes, but buried in the big-data deluge of the mundane and meaningless.

Even in the local language, there is an unabashed and unbuffered perspective on life and the eternal. Around here one may say “Guten Tag” or “Auf Wiedersehen” but it is often to hear “Grüße Gott” which I believe literally means “God’s Greetings”. Imagining such fixtures in the United States, the images would be defaced, the monuments would be removed by judiciary, the businesses would be boycotted, the greeting would be met with scorn or rebuke. Consequently, we have no culture, no identity, no conviction and no truth. We have only power and the world view of those that wield it. As Hillaire Belloc stated in his book Characters of the Reformation: “The religion of the government becomes the religion of the state.” Is he wrong?

The Reformation (or at least the ultimate manifestation of it) roughly divided Germany into the Catholic south and Protestant North. This was more political than religious and resulted in state religions (the Church of ENGLAND, the Church of NORWAY, the Church of DENMARK to illustrate the point). In Germany (then the Holy Roman Empire) it was the religion adopted by the prince in whatever principality or territory ruled over. For the ordinary subject that meant adopting the prince’s world view or have a rough life of persecution to look forward to.

CUT TO: The United States of America where, supposedly, there is no official State Religion by Constitution. It sounds great on paper but in practice it has evolved to be the same thing as Old Europe.  If I don’t embrace the administration’s stance on faith and morals (homosexuality, same-sex marriage, abortion) I can expect legal or financial persecution: no federal funding for schools that are not on board with trans-gender bathrooms; no tax exemption for churches that preach against the power of the state; severe penalties if I object to selling abortifacient drugs; total annihilation if I don’t use my business in support of a same-sex wedding ceremony.

So I ask again, is Belloc wrong?

Mass Tourism VI – Time Traveler Edition

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See introduction to Mass Tourism series here for the motivation behind these essays.

This week I did not visit a local parish or go to Mass while on vacation. I did not participate in some Eastern rite of the Catholic Church as I am wont to do. No, this time I went to the small Endre parish— located one mile east of Visby on the island of Gotland, Sweden built in the 12th century—where Fr. Anders Piltz celebrated the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass on October 5, 1450, the 18th Sunday after Pentecost, many years before the Protestant Reformation.

Fortunately, I was somewhat prepared, having studied the traditional rite as it was celebrated for 400 years from the Council of Trent to Vatican II. But this was even before the establishment of the Tridentine Mass and there are several differences.

Endre has distinctly older components, specifically a rood screen that separates the people from the priests and all liturgical activity. It is only until communion that the faithful cross into the sanctuary to receive the consecrated bread kneeling down. A small version of what looked like an iconostasis stood above the altar.  Thin narrow stained glass windows punctuated the front and sides of the sanctuary. A roughly crafted crucifix hung under the pointed Gothic arch in front of the public area. The nave was walled solid with fading frescoes. A dull, cacophonous bell was sounded at the usual parts of the ritual.

The rite was, of course, in Latin and many of the liturgical formulas (Gloria, Credo, Sorsum corda, Sanctus, Agnus Dei) are exactly the same as we use in the current Novus Ordo Latin rite although the responses were not provided by the people but by a professional cantor. Some responses were not evident, such as the Confiteor or Suscipiat. The vesting prayers I could not equate to those I studied in Latin class but I understand these can vary. The Mass readings and specific prayers for that Sunday in the liturgical calendar adhered to the 1962 Roman Missal I possessed. The priest stood ad orientem as was the norm prior to Vatican II and is presently being revived. The incensing of the altar and then toward the people prior to the Liturgy of the Eucharist is exactly as is done at St. Catherine’s most Sundays. Much of the intonation was barely audible as parts were conducted discretely. This was the practice for centuries—the sacredness and mystery of transubstantiation was too prone to misunderstanding and vulgarization, and catechumens were dismissed before the Eucharistic Liturgy as a precaution.

Even though the liturgy of the Mass has changed, it’s astounding just how much of it is still intact and recognizable over five and half centuries later including an overhaul of the rite in the early 1960’s. Should you also wish to travel back in time and witness what Mass was like to ordinary people, simply click here.

And bring an old missal.

Mass Tourism IV

See introduction to Mass Tourism here.

Not on vacation or a week away, I decided to “tour” a few local parishes. In the first case, the time slot of my usual novus ordo Solemn Latin Mass was being used for first Holy Communion in English. Since it was mostly going to be a family affair, I decided to go to St. John the Beloved in McLean to participate in the Traditional Latin Mass—the “extraordinary form” that had been celebrated for four centuries between the Council of Trent and Vatican II, after which it was relegated to seldom use in a season of “renewal”. Ironically, these liturgical changes were enacted November 29 1964—the start of the liturgical year that I was born. After studying the TLM in my Latin class, I am prone to believe that “promoting” the TLM was a big mistake. Fortunately, there are a number of priest and parishes in Northern Virginia that are authorized to celebrate it and I am increasingly prone to take advantage of it.

You can imagine the paucity of people attending the service marked by many women wearing mantillas.  In the two times I went to TLM before I was totally lost but this time I had with me my Kindle which this time had a copy of the pre Vatican II 1962 edition of the Roman Missal. Smug mode. I found the Pentecost Sunday pertaining and I was able to follow along—and now the secret is out. Also, the novus ordo had prepared me for many of the responses and I actually felt like I had participated when it was all done. Smug mode plus.

On the second occasion of tourism, I visited Holy Trinity in Gainesville after work late on Friday in which Mass is occasionally celebrated.  This is a new church with a very unusual architecture—not modern by any means but not the ornate gothic structures of central Europe. I recall reading somewhere that it was based on early English (I suppose before Henry VIII) influence. I recommend a look inside.

The Mass was like most abbreviated weekday versions. The opening verses and responses I could not identify (maybe Angelus). Some of the responses were sung in Latin, e.g. Sanctus, Agnus Dei, which I happen to know. Smug mode thrice. Two things stood out on this occasion: the communion host was provided intinctured which means the priest dips it in the wine before giving it to the communicant. This means I wasn’t going to take it by the hand as I am most comfortable doing.  Fortunately, I did not mess it up and all went well.

The other event involved a 3-year old boy writhing about so much that his mom carried him to a nearby fenestrated room likely designed for such occasions. At some point I heard/felt this massive thud wave-propagate through the stone floor. Was that? Yes, the lad had writhed about so much he landed on his large float-away head which, apparently, went over like a lead balloon. The wailing and screaming soon followed making a few people cringe—that must’ve hurt bad, really, really bad. My head hurt just thinking about it.

At any rate, I am likely to visit these two parishes again in the future. Both celebrate the TLM at some point in their week and I may want to check out Holy Trinity if occasion permits.

Ite Missa est.

Dr. Scott Hahn

Converts to Catholicism from various denominations of Christianity may attribute, at least in part, their conversion to the writings and teaching of Dr. Scott Hahn.  Many years ago when I was living in Burtonsville, my friend Mike, a devout Catholic, gave me a book written by Dr. Hahn, an ex-Protestant theologian whose learning led him to the Catholic Church where he now resides as a scholar and apologist.  With marginal interest I skimmed the book entitled Rome, Sweet Home, not entirely interested in what I thought were the complicated mechanisms of the Catholic traditions of Christianity, figuring that I’d “been there, done that”[1].  I handed the book to my ex-Catholic mom who was the best pitch for why I wasn’t a Catholic anymore. Understand that I wasn’t invalidating Catholicism, nor was I ever anti-Catholic, I just thought that it wasn’t the denomination[2] for me. To be honest, I had harbored some doubts about doctrinal items but then, in my mind, all denominations had their strange markings: no dancing, no drinking, no musical instruments, snake handling, women cover their heads, speaking in tongues, slain in the spirit, prophecy and other whistle-evoking distinctions. And that always struck me odd; it seemed every denomination had some preoccupation with an aspect of Christian teaching blown to the extreme and made into a denomination in its ultimate manifestation. This provided a certain liberty to do what I wanted because, after all, no one could agree on the color of an orange. I also chalked it up to God liking variety—seemed reasonable but then maybe not entirely true.

Fast forward to recent years when another friend started handing me Lighthouse Media CDs which I would listen to—still defensively–on my commute. Some of these were testimonies from converts but many were teachings from Catholic apologists like Patrick Madrid, Fr. Barron and Dr. Scott Hahn. Hahn was particularly interesting since, due to his Protestant background, he emphasized the teaching of scripture and the fullness of Catholic conformity. One of the first teachings I heard from him was that on the Eucharist under the scrutiny of John 6 and this blew me away. He’s also did one on the office of the pope and that surprised me too. Finally, his book called The Lamb’s Supper talked about Revelation in ways non-Catholic Christians never hear—it was striking.

During my RCIA last year as I was quietly moving toward conversion I visited my Mom in her new duplex where she still had been unpacking. I had not planned to share with her the spiritual changes in my life when, suddenly, she handed me a book that she thought belonged to me—Rome, Sweet Home. To think it resurfaced then after 15 years. Of course this unleashed a torrent of dialog and when I brought the book home I read it all.

Fast forward again and the point of my post. As many know I enrolled in Christendom College Notre Dame Graduate School this fall working my way toward a Master’s in Theology—-uh Catholic Theology—uh Rather Orthodox Catholic Theology. Only a few weeks into it and the small student body was treated to a visit from none other than Dr. Scott Hahn. Now normally, Dr. Hahn will speak a popular message comprehensible to the laity and those with some biblical understanding. But this special audience got an uncut academic dose based on his new book Politicizing the Bible — a talk which almost went entirely over my head. Let’s just say that while most of the audience gazed on nodding with index finger leaning against the side of their head intellectual like, I stared out like Tennessee Tuxedo’s dimwitted side kick, Chumly, wondering if I should ask Mr. Whoopie. Like listening to a Shakespeare play it takes a while to get your “sea legs” in such matters and in the end I started getting Hahn’s drift.

No doubt Dr. Scott Hahn was extremely influential in my conversion. Although it is rare that people convert based on information alone, at least when God changed my heart, my mind was ready for it.


[1] Read my Far Country bio to understand why

[2] Catholics do not view Catholicism as a denomination. As one author put it, a denomination is defined by ones participation in it.

Dr. Scott Hahn visits NDGS

Dr. Scott Hahn visits NDGS

 


[1] Read my Far Country bio to understand why

[2] Catholics do not view Catholicism as a denomination. As one author put it, a denomination is defined by ones participation in it.

First day of school

Long ago, before the Punic Wars when I went to college, my decision to go to the University of Maryland was based on practical considerations: I was paying for it, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I could get in-state tuition, and it was driving distance from home. I thought I’d pick English as my major; my hard working father told me to pick again. So I picked Computer Science only to choose Chemical Engineering a semester later followed another change to Electrical Engineering. Eventually I received a B.S. degree from UM followed by an M.S. from JHU both in EE. I proudly display my diplomas in the cardboard tubes in which they were mailed.

Now only a few know that I have enrolled at the Notre Dame Graduate School to start work toward a Masters of Arts degree in Theology. It will probably take forever but no matter: this is something I want to study and it energizes me. Nothing wrong with engineering, but the impetus for learning that craft was duty and economy. My father was right—it has provided me with a very good living over the years. But sooner or later, the DNA of a certain organism will manifest no matter how many plastic surgeries and hormone treatments you give it.

So this week I started my first class—online. Because I am starting at zero, I have to take pre-requisite courses before I can begin to earn credit toward my degree–like I said, this will take forever. The first lecture was in two parts each about an hour in length which I watched over the course of a few days.

So used to secular academic instruction, I was totally blown away by the lecture—not by the topic or the material. What blew me away was the very tail end. After the last point was made and assignments were meted out, the professor crossed himself, bowed in prayer and said the Glory Be. He crossed again and then stepped away from the podium as if nothing unusual just happened. The video went black and I stared at my computer screen remembering that this wasn’t the godless University of Maryland where people of faith were routinely criticized and ridiculed by student and faculty alike. No, this was different—much, much different.

It’s good to be home.

Melkite

My wife, my mom and I attended the Middle Eastern Festival at the Holy Transfiguration Church located in McLean. Aside from crafts, customs and food the festival featured the church itself. It was hard to ignore the number of black robed men with large ornate crucifixes; in fact, a handful sat at our table which was mildly intimidating but I managed to introduce myself to one who, oddly, wore a white robe.

A peek into the dark sanctuary revealed a gallery of gilded icons with a large fresco of Christ overhead. It was tempting to think this must be some Eastern Orthodox Church but, no, this was a Catholic church—a Melkite Greek Catholic Church—that celebrates mass according to the Byzantine Rite and is in full Communion with the Church in Rome. The origins of this Church goes back pretty far, even earlier than the Western Church, having come from regions in the Middle east (Alexandria, Antioch) and from the first communities of the Apostles.

I had heard of this church some time ago when Sigrid, the octogenarian woman that led me to the Church, mentioned it. More recently we ran into a member at a small gathering at a friend’s house last week. Small world, we ran into this gentleman again at the festival. He encouraged us to go to the five o’clock vespers which was an hour later. Mom was excited about going which helped me overcome any hesitation. Kimberly, my wife, was along for it too.

For forty five minutes we stood in the sanctuary and witnessed (and as best we could participated) in a ritual that was likely a jillion years old. It was in English with a few Greek portions (e.g., the Kyrie). There is really no way to explain it since there was so much that was new going on. The priests would chant most of the prayers very rapidly with lots of incense, colors, icons, candles, rituals – it was quite a lot to take in. My mom was overcome by emotion when it started up—indeed there was an immense beauty to it that was striking.

While the prayers were going on full bore, a number of congregants would randomly go up to the front and convene with one of the priests. To us it appeared to be a form of reconciliation which was later confirmed by our friend:

One of priest was hearing confessions in front of the icon. The people usually line up along the right wall and wait their turn. They then approach the priest, usually make 3 bows asking for forgiveness, and say their confession. Then the priest places his stole (representing the yoke, the burden) and says the words of forgiveness “God through Nathan the prophet forgave David his sins; and Peter shedding bitter tears. May this same God, through me, a sinner, forgive you everything in this life and in the life to come. And may he make you stand uncondemned before his awesome judgment-seat, for he is blessed unto ages of ages. Amen” and then the priest removes the stole representing the removal of the burden of sin.

On the left were a cluster of priests chanting and intoning the words of the liturgy without taking a breath. About three would trade off chanting while finger tracing what looked like a musical score set around a rotating stand. Three more would stand in the background occasionally interjecting a prayer. One young priest had his daughter in his arms—yes this Catholic priesthood is allowed to marry and have kids–and what a great legacy that man is leaving his daughter too. [Correction : qualified married men can be ordained as priests but priests cannot marry. I believe this is in accordance with the Roman Church practice too.]

Beyond gilded paneling in the front that one could scarcely see behind, voices would proclaim some of the words and doors would open and close revealing an altar surrounded by candles and icons as well—it was difficult to see. On a number of occasions one of the deacons would wave incense throwing smoke around very generously while walking around the chamber. At one point a team of men walked around baring a high cross while all the congregants tracked their movement with appropriate responsorial.

At the close, everyone was invited to receive a blessing from the priest: we held our overlapped hands open while the priests conferred a blessing—then we would kiss the back of the priest’s hand. Seemed strange, maybe a little unhygienic, but we quickly overcame our fears and went forward.

And then it was over.

And then we went home.

I think I would like to go again.

Infidelity: the necessary appendage of a man of fashion

“Christianity on Trial” by Vincent Carroll & David Shiflett takes on a number of accusations lobbed toward Christians of all sort including (and perhaps especially) Catholics. On the chapter regarding the sanctioning of slavery that the Bible and adherents are accused of, the authors provide the following quote which I found prophetic:

Wilberforce foresaw a “fast approaching” time “when Christianity will be almost as openly disavowed in the language, as in fact it is already supposed to have disappeared from the conduct of men; when infidelity will be held to be the necessary appendage of a man of fashion , and to believe will be deemed the indication of a feeble mind.”

I think we are there.

P.S. If you don’t know who Wm. Wilberforce was, you are probably a modern man of fashion.

Canon

Thomas Jefferson, United States founding father and deist, took it upon himself to compose a private view of Christianity by crafting a book which extracted teachings from the New Testament, careful to exclude all miracles and the supernatural including Christ’s resurrection and the like. The full breathtaking title of Jefferson’s 1804 version was The Philosophy of Jesus of Nazareth, being Extracted from the Account of His Life and Doctrines Given by Matthew, Mark, Luke and John; Being an Abridgement of the New Testament for the Use of the Indians, Unembarrassed with Matters of Fact or Faith beyond the Level of their Comprehensions.

Most Bible Christians would be appalled at Jefferson’s scissors and glue reconstruction of Holy Scripture, especially since Holy Scripture, in several places, warns of adding, subtracting or modifying it. And yet, one could argue that the fathers of the Reformation, starting with the views of Martin Luther, did exactly that when assembling the Protestant Bible. In addition to removing several books of the canonical Old Testament including the deuterocanonical books of Judith, Maccabees and Wisdom, Martin Luther also tried to exclude Hebrews, James (which he lampooned as the Epistle of Straw), Jude and Revelation, presumably since these books did not line up with the sola fides pillar of the Reformation he was in the process of erecting. Sola scriptura, the second pillar, apparently required some truncating to level nicely with the first.

More recently, there are Christian movements afoot that would discredit those parts of the Bible composed by Saint Paul—the so called Pauline epistles. It should be enough that the apostle’s name has been formed into its own adjective1 but these writings also constitute about two thirds of the New Testament. So why are denominations crafting this canonical extreme makeover? Recall that Paul’s letters to various churches around the Mediterranean are attempts to get Christians back in line where they deviated from orthopraxy. So when Paul exhorts wives to submit to their husbands, exhorts husbands to love their wives (Ephesians), condemns homosexuality (Romans), excommunicates the immoral brother or commands other directives that force us to conform to the truth, new denominations are compelled to “toss out” portions of scripture that don’t jive with their modern spirit of tolerance and political correctness. In the extreme, we might one day create a new Christian denomination that tosses out the baby of religion with the bathwater of sacred scripture altogether. And presto, atheism.

What might surprise the average reader of the New Testament is that Jesus had to deal with this same issue during his Earthly ministry. Remember that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead since they only recognized the Torah (or the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament) as authoritative, excluding histories, Psalms, and prophetic books. Nevertheless Jesus was able to clarify the doctrine anyhow using only the Torah as reference—brilliant! But it probably did not sway them anyway.

To be fair, the idea of making a unilateral decision as to what parts of the Bible belong in one’s orthodoxy is not just the problem of Jefferson, Luther, Calvin, Sadducees, deists, agnostics, atheists and reformers, it’s everyone’s problem—today—even if we leave the Bible physically intact. Even if we call ourselves Catholic.

1 If you knew that the adjectival form of my name, James, was “Jacobite” you may already have won a trip for two to the Cinncinnati Club Med, no expenses paid.

The New Pope

Apparent that I was going forward on full communion with the Roman Catholic Church, friends and family would volley questions my way as if I’ve become an expert in theology. What about purgatory, salvation through grace, the Immaculate Conception?

Last week, just before my confirmation, my mother tossed out a softer question: what did I think about the new Pope, Francis? After a little thought I provided the following answer:

Hey Mom,

I don’t know a lot about Pope Francis but I can definitely tell you that he is way better than the guy who used to be pope…me. Popes may be elected, may be martyred, may be canonized and may even resign. But my pope was fired. He is no longer pope. Thank God.

James