The Liturgical Year of Faith 2013 is winding down and one can’t help speculating what Pope Francis will proclaim the year 2014 to be? Let’s first start with the…
Secular Fantasy Wish List
1. Transformation of the Church of course, not society.
2. Non Judgment of morality of course, not the Holy Church.
3. Whatever anyone thinks or does is okay, except the Church which is always wrong.
5. Change of the fun hating Catholic Church, not the libertine society.
6. Modest Hope for Holy Church of course, but Wild Hope for the pagan society and Culture of Death.
7. Prosperity some of the Protestants join in this. I hate to disillusion you—no I don’t really—you see, it’s my job. It’s the job of every Catholic. Following the Gospel won’t help you get that job or house or relationship you’ve always wanted. You just might lose those things but you will gain the joy that Jesus has promised. “Joy is being happy with the good,” as Father George Rutler said in his weekly column (4/11/2011) in the Church of St. Michael Parish Bulletin. “The good is God himself and…your joy no man shall take from you” (John 16:22).
8. Pope Francis Becomes Anglican or better yet, some other Protestant denomination and maybe even gets married. Oh if they only knew how orthodox he really is!
But then there are my hopes of what 2014 really will be called. Some are just…
1. New Catholic Superheroes — you and me. We call them Saints and that is “what you should say you want to be,” Father Thomas Merton is told by a friend in his book The Seven Storey Mountain. In Father Rutler’s book A Crisis of Saints he says that today we need people to exercise heroic virtue, to become saints.
2. Francis Converts World in 12 Months! It will take 11 months before they realize he’s really Catholic, but then watch out! Well, maybe a little longer.
3. Exorcism may be the last resort for this world of darkness, but it would be a great attention grabber to announce on Halloween Night. I know the Vatican doesn’t recognize this but they could do it on All Saints’ Day.
4. Gregorian Chant which I have fallen uncontrollably in love with this year. It is the soaring music of heavenly angels. It permeates the air with sanctity. I listen to it on my cellphone radio wherever I go and it’s like taking the Mass with me wherever I go–those songs are right out of the liturgy. Chant is having a Renaissance in many churches today. Father Rutler says in A Crisis of Saints, “For the liturgy is the Church’s prime means of evangelism.” For those of us concerned about the New Evangelism, inserting this sublime music back into the Mass would be a small step for man, but a giant leap for Mother Church.
And then some are…
5. St. Francis: As G.K. Chesterton said in his book St. Thomas Aquinas, “It is the paradox of history that every generation is converted by the saint that contradicts it the most.” Francis the penniless, charitable and self-sacrificing man of peace with a heart as big as the world, is the one for our selfish age also.
6. St. John Vianney: The very simple but profoundly holy Patron Saint of Priests could invigorate us still. He was runner up to St. Paul for the year of 2008, but sometimes the runner up is the next man in line. Today’s Pope Francis was second in the voting to Pope Benedict XVI in 2005. I read Father Rutler’s mystical book The Cure’ D’Ars Today, and it ignited me. St. John Vianney spent more than 15 hours a day hearing confessions. Do people think they are now sinless? The fruits of this poverty are tragic.
7. Resurrection: The hope for a world that is disintegrating right before our eyes and a Church that’s tried to be a “nice guy” for way too long. I have found inspiration many times recalling Chesterton’s remark from The Everlasting Man, “Christianity has died many times and risen again, for it had a God who knew the way out of the grave.” Repentance first of course.
8. Hope: This seems to be the logical choice to follow the theological virtue of faith. Of course Holy Church will rely on much more than logic to make its decision. Guided by the Holy Spirit and the Vatican theologians, I’m sure it will come up with a remarkable choice. The Year of Faith had a subtle but profound influence on me. Nearly every day the thought would come to me that this is the Year of Faith and am I increasing my faith today? Of course I prayed to the Lord to increase my faith, but I also acted.
I made the very difficult choice to leave the parish that confirmed me five years ago to make the one hour trip into Manhattan to the Church of St. Michael, the parish of the renowned Father Rutler whose erudite talks on EWTN the Eternal Word Television Network, were pivotal in my conversion. His eloquent homilies and the very holy Masses with Gregorian chant paid off a hundred fold. I now listen to chant many hours of the day and sometimes all night while sleeping—I have the nicest dreams, but most importantly one of my most fervent prayers was answered.
One of the first things Father Rutler said to me was that many vocations come out of this parish. I had been praying for 40 years to be a writer. I wrote a smattering of things along the way, but within a few weeks I bought a computer—a seemingly irrational thing to do at the time since I was already in debt. Within another few weeks I was writing and sending articles out to be published. And despite rejections—which had paralyzed me in the past—I have kept at it. All praise and glory to God.
Oh yes. And the final choice for 2014:
9. Guts! Mother Angelica on EWTN says it should be the eighth Gift of the Holy Spirit. Talk about someone who has it! She is the cloistered Poor Clare nun who founded EWTN, the global network that is converting millions globally. It converted me six years ago. The Church might tone it down to Fortitude, but I think she means something beyond that—Heroic Virtue. It is doing more than what man can do, way more. It is doing what man united with God can do—supernatural virtue. The Lord proclaims it in John 15:13, “No greater love has any man than this, to lay down his life for his friends.”
He also said, “I came to set the world on fire,” (Luke 12:49) and we are told to imitate him, flat out: “Be imitators of God” (Ephesians 5:1). St. Catherine of Sienna spells it out, “If you do what the Lord calls you to do you will set the world on fire!”
And by the way, Mother Angelica says if you ever have a great difficulty, read Ephesians. I did, and I started writing for the Lord. As St. John Vianney says, “The good God is so good.”