Thursday, April 04, 2013

This is amusing: Pope Francis says complaining can too often distance us from Jesus...

In response, a commenter to the news story complained that the Holy Father's homily was "Not the best bit of exegesis."

The Holy Father was simply commenting on the Gospel of the day, at his daily Mass with the workers.  Kind of an everyday homily/commentary a parish priest might offer.  A fruit of his private prayer/lectio.

What the Holy Father said is very true.  In fact the critical spirit fosters a negative culture around ourselves which can blind and close us in.  The Holy Father describes it well:
"They were afraid. All of the disciples were afraid,” he said. As they walked toward Emmaus and discussed everything that had happened, they were sad and complaining. “And the more they complained, the more they were closed in on themselves: They did not have a horizon before them, only a wall,” the Pope explained, according to Vatican Radio.

The disciples had had such high hopes that Jesus would be the one who would redeem Israel, but they thought their hopes were destroyed, he said on Wednesday. Finish reading here.

I wonder if the message was lost on the man who complained?  All he seemed to pick up was that the point wasn't "the best bit of exegesis."

Think of how we miss Jesus, even in the breaking of the bread - the point wherein the disciples finally recognized the Christ.  Think of how we can be so distracted by what someone is wearing to Mass, or how the priest missed that action, or was incoherent in that part of the prayer, or how he forgot to genuflect... just think how we can be so caught up in finding liturgical abuses that we actually miss recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread.

The Pope ended his 'feverino' saying:
Complaining and griping, about others and about things in one’s own life, is harmful “because it dashes hope. Don’t get into this game of a life of complaints.”

John of the Cross said, "He who complains isn't even a good Christian."  The Pope is obviously much kinder.

Photo:  Pope's daily Mass with the workers.  What a contrast to the private chapel Masses.


  1. Terry, did I detect an implied "complaint" in that last sentence? :)

  2. Let us not forget, not all groans or complaints are from the same spirit ...

    " ...not even the disciples – future priests – see or understand: on the “existential outskirts”, they see only what is on the surface: the crowd pressing in on Jesus from all sides (cf. Lk 8:42). The Lord, on the other hand, feels the power of the divine anointing which runs down to the edge of his cloak.." - Pope Francis

    From the comment box you linked to, Terry:

    "Paul Duffy • 5 hours ago
    I believe more accurately translated as - "they had had hope" - ... With hope gone they could only discuss their disappointment, that is complain. Until somebody walked beside them that is."

    "Until somebody walked beside them that is"

    " ...Piche finds the greatest – and the most vexing – challenges have to do with what he calls “the unrelenting demands to solve problems.” ... Often those crises involve the need to deal with people’s anger and frustration. “People are looking for someone who will listen to them and understand where they are coming from,” Piche said. “I think I’m a good listener, and maybe that I don’t know all of the answers is a plus because I won’t make snap judgments.”

    [source for the above quote:], and another related...

    " ..when the Gospel we preach touches their daily lives, when it runs down like the oil of Aaron to the edges of reality, when it brings light to moments of extreme darkness, to the “outskirts” where people of faith are most exposed to the onslaught of those who want to tear down their faith. People thank us because they feel that we have prayed over the realities of their everyday lives, their troubles, their joys, their burdens and their hopes. And when they feel that the fragrance of the Anointed One, of Christ, has come to them through us, they feel encouraged to entrust to us everything they want to bring before the Lord: “Pray for me, Father, because I have this problem”, “Bless me”, “Pray for me” ...

    Be Christ in towards them

    To perceive and to sense, even as the Lord sensed the hope-filled anguish of the woman suffering from hemorrhages when she touched the hem of his garment. At that moment, Jesus, surrounded by people on every side, embodies all the beauty of Aaron vested in priestly raiment, with the oil running down upon his robes. It is a hidden beauty, one which shines forth only for those faith-filled eyes of the woman troubled with an issue of blood. ..." Pope Francis, Chrism Mass homily

  3. Is it complaining if I say that reading com boxes gives me crippling chest pains? That's complaining, isn't it. Cripes! Why do I complain so much? Why can I not stop? Wait. That's complaining, too, isn't it.

  4. The Rule of St. Benedict has harsh words for grumblers and complainers. I love to complain unfortunately. I complain about complaining. I need help.

  5. The most popular Catholic writers and bloggers do precious little BUT complain. It is that attitude that garners them huge following.

  6. Patricia - actually, the entire post is a veiled complaint. LOL!

  7. soo Terry is this you . Has Patheos succeed ?

  8. Haha! Jeff - it couldn't be, Mark said a 'terrific' writer.

    Not me.

  9. It's probably Simcha.

  10. St. Therese believed that complaining is like taking one's hard-earned wages and "throwing them into the fire". As much as I try to remember this, I whine, complain, moan, and complain some more, all the while saying I have no doubt God will save me from whatever my calamity of the moment happens to be.

    I just saw where Roger Ebert died (may he rest in peace through the mercy of God). I didn't know about his cancer and how he lost his ability to speak except through a computer. I have no idea what, if any, his beliefs were but it got me to wondering whether or not losing the ability to complain brings about inner peace. Many is the time I ask myself "now why couldn't I just keep that to myself?" Even though Lent is over, it will be a good spiritual exercise to try to keep the whining to a minimum.

  11. Sad about Roger Ebert - I think may have been Catholic.

  12. Thom,

    Your point is spot on.

    The more a blogger complains the more people are attracted like flies to ... You know.

    It's simple. Bloggers who complain chronically about "all those other Catholics" basically are feeding their, and their readers human fallen nature. Concupiscence gravitates in this direction. Misery likes company.

    Conversely, some of the truly nice blogs that have substantive stuff but isn't negative, will get lower traffic than someone who is pointing out the latest liturgical abuse caught in video.

  13. Patricia, I had the same initial reaction. However, if we follow the advice not to complain, are we Christian? Should we fail to complain of a priest who commits liturgical abuse? Should we not complain when we know a priest has been abused for simply following Church teaching?

    Or should we (I believe correctly) lodge complaints to the right party, in writing or in person, but privately, and not on the Internet, nor in a nominal newspaper?

    We are called not to judge, but we are still responsible to discern right and wrong.

  14. true there are those who just like the sound of their voice and don't seek solutions, help etc. The quotes above illustrate that most of the time people want to be heard for a reason and need attention.

    I agree with Meyer ... with what his questions point to which is discernment. "Complaint" has become an evil word for some reason. Just like so many other words today, their mean have been flatten as has the subtle distinctions, understandings.

    I wonder can anyone accept "constructive criticism" today? Know how to advance it?

    Below is a little poem that quickly illustrates an operative understanding of the nature of complaints ...

    Management Craft: 10 Ways to Handle Complaints

    What is a complaint?

    What’s a complaint, if not a cry for help

    A signal that communicates a wish or hope

    Complaints can be useful to bosses

    Who are interested in preventing future losses

    Of people, processes, time, and harmony

    What’s a complaint, if not an idea cloaked

    A bit of creativity waiting to be evoked

    Complaints can become positive

    For they mean communication is active

    And it takes a conversation to change the world.


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