Monday, May 20, 2013

Is the Pope an intellectual?

Pope Francis when Cardinal Bergoglio at Shrine of N.S. Lujan.*

Is Pope Francis an intellectual?

I saw that question asked somewhere online.  We esteem intellectuals and academics - we give no credence to those without degrees and initials after their names.  A person has a great conversion - they write about it, get a book deal, a lecture gig, and they finish their studies and work on getting their degree(s) - as many as they can.  Well read, well documented recovering sinners can make it big on the lecture circuit, scoring book deals, even without an academic pedigree - they can take their place at the table - so long as they don't offend anyone. 

There is nothing wrong with that, BTW.  I'm not anti-intellectual - but some people are big snobs about it.  They esteem, compete and measure others based upon their academic standards and achievements.  It is a badge of superiority and status for many.

Anyway - that is my take on the concern some have over Pope Francis.  Is he intellectual enough?  Is he liturgically traditional enough?  People say, 'So far he's very low-brow and low-church' and so on.  My goodness - the Pope is a Jesuit - of course he is brilliant, what do they want?

"This is the one whom I approve: the lowly and afflicted man who trembles at my word." - Isaiah 66: 2

Today the Holy Father speaks of prayer.  As simply as the saints speak of prayer, as simply as an old monk might speak... Not about prayer, the stages, the degrees, nor the mystical-theological dimension of it - but of pure, simple prayer - an ordinary person's prayer.

"But why this disbelief? I believe that it is [when] the heart will not open, when the heart is closed, when the heart wants to have everything under control".
The Holy Father told the story of a young child in Argentina who at only 7 years of age fell ill and was given only a few hours to live by doctors. Her father, an electrician, a "man of faith," started “acting like madmen - said the Pope - and in that state of madness “took a bus to the Marian Shrine of Lujan, 70 km away”.
"He finally arrived after 9 pm, when everything was closed. And he began to pray to Our Lady, with his hands gripping the iron fence. And he prayed, and prayed, and wept, and prayed ... and that’s the way he remained all night long. But this man was struggling: he was struggling with God, he struggled with God Himself to heal his daughter. Then, at 6 in the morning, he went to the bus station, took the bus and arrived home, in the hospital at 9 am, more or less. And he found his wife weeping. And he thought the worst. “What’s happened? I do not understand, I do not understand! What has happened? '. 'Well, the doctors came and they told me that the fever is gone, she is breathing well, that there is nothing! They will leave her for two days more, but I do not understand what happened! This still happens, eh? Miracles do happen”. 
But we need to pray with our hearts concluded the Pope:
"A courageous prayer, that struggles to achieve a miracle, not prayers of courtesy, 'Ah, I will pray for you,' I say an Our Father, a Hail Mary and then I forget. No: a courageous prayer, like that of Abraham, who struggled with the Lord to save the city, like that of Moses who held his hands high and tired himself out, praying to the Lord, like that of many people, so many people who have faith and pray with faith. Prayer works wonders, but we have to believe! I think we can make a beautiful prayer ... and tell Him today, all day long, 'Lord, I believe, help my unbelief' ... and when people ask ask us to pray for the many people who suffer in wars, all refugees, all of these dramas that exist right now, pray, but with your heart to the Lord: 'Do it!', but tell Him: 'Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief 'that is also in my prayers. Let us do this today. " - Vatican Radio

Years ago as a pilgrim, I encountered many students and professors in Europe, almost all wanted to know where I went to university - it was usually their first question.  I understand their interest, since most were over there for studies.  However, on one memorable occasion, one academic asked me at the dinner table, "How many degrees do you have?"  And then he told me how many he had and where he obtained them.  It was about status and 'riches' for him - for others, it can be about what school and what you have published.

"In aridity and emptiness the soul becomes humble. Former pride disappears when a man no longer finds in himself anything that might cause him to look down on others." - Science of the Cross 
 *Freak out alert:  The cardinal is wearing blue vestments!  Oh! My!  Gosh!  (The Spanish do that BTW.)


  1. I just love Pope Francis more and more!!! Your commentary is great too!

  2. I love him more and more as well - he is so simple.

  3. I really liked your reflection..

    San Paul was highly educated and had to earn his living by making tents! The Lord gave him the wisdom that comes with humility..he went blind!.

    Pope Francis is said to be the Pope of humility, right?

  4. Is the pope Catholic? (Matthew 11 : 16-19)


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