Our Lady of the Wayside

Our Lady of the Wayside
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Sunday 17 March 2013

On Heavenly Fathers, Holy Fathers and Good Fathers

Above:Holy Fathers...and Fathers

I have blogged twice (Irish Catholicism, A Blessing and A Firm Anchor and A Father who Taught me How to Protect the Weak and the Innocent) about my father, Stanley McCarrick, on the anniversaries of his death, which was 17th March 2010. This year, I was thinking about his approaching anniversary and I got to wondering what his view of Pope Benedict's resignation and Pope Francis' election would be. He would have been just as excited as I was to watch the announcement, "Habemus Papem" and to wait to see the new Pope. And like most of us he would have struggled with the loss of the beloved Pope Benedict, and taking in this new Pope who we hardly know yet. He had a profound filial devotion to the Holy Father which he passed on to all his children. And while I can't say I "love" the person of the new Pope yet, for I hardly know who he is, I love the shoes he is filling and the role he has been elected to. And I love the Church that elected him profoundly, so for now I am going to look at everything he does with an open mind and a respectful eye, while praying that he will be a greater and holier man than I can imagine!

I remember my father, when I was (much!) younger, reading a book by Cardinal Ratzinger and I said to him “Who is Cardinal Ratzinger?” he looked over the top of the book at me and said “A carbon copy of the Pope!”. I knew this was the highest of praise from my dad. And though in many ways the then Cardinal Ratzinger was not a carbon copy of Pope John Paul II, his sentiment was true. They held the same beliefs, taught the same truths and most of all Cardinal Ratzinger as head of the CDF was the steel support on which the Holy Father John Paul II could lean throughout his papacy.

I thank my father for this great love of the Holy Father, which undoubtedly kept me in the Church, when my beliefs, practise of the faith, lack of understanding of the teachings of the Church, off the wall lifestyle etc tempted me away from it. And I thank God for the joy of a great father on earth, several great and saintly Holy Fathers over the last 40 years (all of the deceased ones having causes for beatification and one beatified already) - such beautiful reflections of the Heavenly Fatherhood of God Himself.

Please pray for the repose of my father’s soul. Here’s an extract from one of his letters to the press about the Pope and the Church and the freedom of the individual:

Sometimes one wonders if the Pope is just some secluded old man in a big house somewhere in the confines of the city of Rome. Whenever his words come through to us, and often they don't, we are deluged with objections and letters in the papers showing just how far he is removed from the world we live in.

It is hard to knuckle down and recall that Jesus Christ came on earth to show us the way to live our lives in order to achieve that everlasting life with Him to which He, in His incomprehensible love for us, invites us.

Easily we forget that He didn't desert us when He returned to the Father. He left us Peter and the apostles, and their successors, the Pope and the Bishops, guided by the Holy Spirit, to ensure that His guidance was kept clear and true before us. Can we visualize the Church without that centre of guidance?

Jesus didn't invade everyone's privacy. Neither does the Pope. But our most secret actions are open to God, Who cannot be deceived. What the Pope and Christ's Church invite us to do is what He wants. We are in no way forced to so behave. The priest and the bishop have no power over us. Even God does not compel us to answer His call, which is given voice down the centuries by the Church, inspired by the Holy Spirit. The choice is finally ours. We choose our way of life, with its everlasting consequences.
Clare McCullough

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