Monday, March 18, 2013

Gunfight Three

Oh, my, but didn't I break off the last post at just the right time. The very next day, just at "High Noon", to carry on with symbols and names from the Western genre - that is, high noon our time, which was eight p.m. in Italy - we beheld our new Pope, Francis of Argentina, standing on and talking from the balcony of Saint Peter's. It was instantly plain that he is a very dear man, which was good for the heart, and then as the initial biographical details poured forth from the researches of the journalists, both secular and Catholic, that his election was as rich a source of symbols and hope for this writer as could be asked for. For some months I've had a sense that the angels - or was it just the Trinity, as often the angels are in the dark about the future just as much as we are? - were sending chuckles in my direction, due to my natural inability to behold the future, and thus not be able to see all that clearly just what they had up their sleeves. Yet there was certainly a lot of interesting inspiration going on in previous months, and now I can see where it was leading.
Yes, Virginia, there are cowboys in Argentina, vaqueros, or gauchos, and all these images and memories I've been moved to drum up have been a very good foundation indeed for the job ahead. I will be surprised in the current title doesn't stick around for a while.
I even used to sing a hit parade song, in the 50's, "The Bandit of Brazil", all about a bold vaquero, who when he'd shoot, would shoot to kill. I recall being especially pleased that I could figure out the chords on my own, and did not have to resort to a book. I then had no experience of buying sheet music.
They say that amongst Francis' many virtues and interests there exists a passion for literature, therefore an ability to deal with symbols. Should he get around to reading my scribbles, therefore, he's well equipped to take hold of their meaning, unless I happen to wander too far into the upper mansions of the spiritual life without his having been prepared by God's more unusual graces. I have little idea so far of the new Pope's knowledge of the mystics. The journalistas, while interesting and occasionally informative, have so far been so consumed by mere politics - as they see them - that they haven't got around to reporting on his relationship with the Spanish masters of the spiritual life, and so, as usual, are possibly missing some of the most significant stories.
But I have heard - from Marianne, who monitors the news services of the Net much more than I do - that he has used the phrase "Mystical Body of Christ" already, and my soul took yet another little leap upward as it heard about it. As a Jesuit, he is also familiar with the concept of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and that is a good thing too, not only in itself but in the face of so many journalists, and not just secular journalists, who are basically Jansenistic in so much of their thinking. And incredibly unresearched about Benedict's vital role in dealing with the sexual abuse issue, thus almost obliterating their own unquestionable value in helping with this problem, simply by reporting it, in the early days of the clean-up.
Would it help if the Church were to give a formal thank you to the secular press for those first encounters with the horrors of fact and clerical negligence in dealing with it? Certainly the Church was doing nothing about the problem on its own. Had it been facing into it according to the will of Christ, the infamous Father John Monaghan of Nelson would have been arrested a quarter century earlier than 1988. Only Cardinal Ratzinger put into place the system that acts now as it should have been able to act then.
But, as one always has to admit, sadly, not only the world, but the Church and those who pretend to be some quasi-religious organization pretending to be the Church, are all punished, eventually, for ignoring perfection and the spiritual life, which means ignoring what the Bible actually says. It can be no other way. God has a contract with us, by which he is held to do everything He can to get us into heaven. If he could not go back to heaven without suffering, how can mankind expect to get there without a bruise or two, especially when it spends so much energy refusing to study the rules?
But this just in. Marianne told me an hour ago that it has been reported that Francis does know a little at least of the spiritual life from an experience in his youth.
Perhaps that was why, to my eyes, the expectant crowd in Saint Peter's Square, awaiting the sight of the man for whom the white smoke had flown, looked more like the happy portion of humanity at the Last Judgement than any crowd I've ever seen.

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