Thursday, October 3, 2013

On the Pope, the Government and Our Reactions to the Media

I've been watching my news feed on facebook these couple of weeks and the overwhelming majority of posts these days are about one of two things.  I bet some of you can probably guess what they are.  

The government shut down is one and the Pope's recent interviews are the other.  

In my own feed I'd have to say that if one were to edge the other out in the number of posts I've been seeing flying around, I'd say it was the Pope's interviews.

Truth be told, with everything that's been going on, and our lack of cable, I didn't even know that we were nearing a shutdown until a day or two before it happened when I was finally in the car driving somewhere and I caught the news on the radio and thought "Wow... I really haven't been paying attention to the news lately.  It's kind of nice."

Now let's be clear, this not being up on current events is very new to me.  When we had cable, I was kind of a news junkie.  My TV was pretty much constantly on CNN or MSNC in college.  But in the past year, when I'd watch the news I would find myself turning away, overwhelmed by the fact that everyone talking always seemed to have some sort of an agenda and almost every story had an overwhelming slant to it, one way or another.  As often as not, the local news was even worse.  

At the time, I didn't feel like watching the news was stressful.  Until I stopped.  And then I realized that not being inundated with the division that is so much a part of our culture is actually... really nice.  

All of that was on my mind when the flurry of "the Pope said what?!?!" "don't worry guys it's okay, he's awesome..." "It was a mistranslations..." posts began to appear (again) from all the bloggers I love to read.

I read the posts.  I read the interviews.  And I read more posts with different perspectives on the interviews. I think I might have even started my own post in my head.  

And my stress level slowly started to rise (although not much because it's rather high at the moment and couldn't really go much higher... and honestly, the things going on here right now are making all the other things I could be worrying about feel much, much smaller).  

So I made a decision.  I stopped reading about the controversy about what he meant or didn't mean or said or didn't say.  I took a deep breath and thought it over long and hard.  If the Pope releases another encyclical, send it my way.  But honestly, nothing in those interviews is going to change a thing about my every day life.  I'm going to continue to live my vocation the best way that I know how to live it.  I'm going to continue to love God and obey the teachings of the Church that he founded with Peter.  I'm going to continue to pray for our Pope, because he's got an incredibly difficult job and all eyes are on him as he guides the faithful.  And maybe I should pray more for peace for all of us as we stumble along living our vocations as best we can.    

All in all my plan is really rather simple.  

Oh sure, I've already found myself skimming a few posts about what-probably-really-was-meant.  My resolve apparently isn't as perfect as it could be.  I'm not shutting out everything.  If he gives another interview I'm sure I won't be able to resist reading it.  

But I'm also making a choice not to get upset about whatever I read.  Being upset about what he did or didn't say, isn't going to help my vocation one bit.  It isn't going to help me love and serve.  It isn't going to draw me any closer to God.  

I know these past weeks have been upsetting for many of you in many different ways.  I've seen posts where people are angry about the declaration that Pope John Paul II and Pope John XXIII have attained their heavenly reward.  And it struck me that it is incredibly sad that anyone could be angry about any person who has passed from this life being declared a saint.  

Isn't sainthood what we should want, even for those people we can't stand to be in the same room with? Are we really so angry that we would wish someone be damned to Hell?  

Let's take a deep breath.  Say a prayer.  Say a lot of prayers.  Pray for your friends, for those who you think of as enemies.  Pray for your pastor and bishop and for the Pope.  

There's a lot of anger and confusion tearing through the faithful right now, and while there are many things that I don't know, I do know one thing and it's that those emotions, which are so easy to give way to, aren't from above and they aren't leading us towards a fuller understanding of God's truths or towards the sainthood that our souls so desire.  


  1. Thanks, Cam, for a wonderful reminder. I've nearly stopped reading blogs this week because it was causing me so much distress, and like you I have enough distressing things to deal with in my own life. What I've reminded myself of frequently is that this whole deal of being able to parse the pope's words in an instant is a very modern development (and not necessarily a good one). In previous centuries a lot of the laity would have been lucky to know more than the name of the pope (I assume they were praying for him at Mass), would never have seen an encyclical and would be dependent on their priest for their catechesis. I think I'm going to put myself back in the dark ages for awhile, at least in that sense. We've got a great pastor, I'm just going to keep listening to him.

  2. I too used to have the TV on all the time, and don't anymore. I got tired of trying to figure out how a Pope could have said what the press says he said, then I remember how a Bishop was asked about women covering their heads for mass, and he said it wasn't on the agenda to even be discussed, and the journalist wrote how it was no longer required so women stopped doing it. And I relax. I read the interviews, and thought about them in the larger context of the talks he gives, and decided that he is taken out of context and twisted and that even good people are falling for the spin the MSM put on things, and I decided not to worry because it changes nothing in how I live either.

    Sometimes it is best to stick with the vocation at hand and leave the other stuff to those whose vocation it is.

  3. Best. Post. Ever!

    You are in good company. C.S. Lewis did not read newspapers of his time. He said it tends to a false charity in which we do not love our real neighbor.


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