With Pope Francis, something is stirring….
An Influenced Dream
There were three funerals in a row in the parish. That on top of everything else …..”the grey pragmatism of the daily life”. A phone call said ‘I suppose you didn’t hear the news from Rome. They are calling it a magna charter for Francis.’
Later that night I tried to connect with”the joy of the gospel”. The document is so well laid out, and the footnotes are impressive. I turned off the iPad in bed with a lot more to read, a sense of jealousy at the succinct way of putting things overtaking my sense of joy. I wouldn’t mind having said some of that! Then to sleep, surrendering to the healing of death mirroring.
Then I woke at 4am. A greyhound barking in the distance brought me back from a place I had never remembered dreaming of before. I was someplace in Middle Europe in the eighteenth century. Feeling trapped and in need of exiting the baroque excesses of a crowded palace, the stench of death was all around. I was following someone who was avoiding staying on in this deadening closed in space, out onto a landing and down a spiral staircase out into fresh air.
The dog bark leaves me parsing the dream to see if anything from beyond is rearranging the furniture within and around me. I feel the imaginative connection between my reading and my dream, a need to look at it without becoming myopic, and if it throws up anything to put it out there “for in dreams begin responsibilities”
Over thirty years of priesthood is being sieved through this joyful re-statement of the Gospel. Something is stirring and there is necessary movement. Small happenings seem to thread a seam of hope. A neglected and isolated part of our parish recently rearranged the rituals around funerals to suit their needs. Small, but it was ownership of the rite of passage that we do well around here. If nothing had been changed where would we be, ’twas time to do things different. If the absence of a celibate male to preside at a Eucharist denies this community of Mass, what will be their thread of hope to free us from the stench of decay with the joy of the gospel? “For the Eucharist is not a prize for the perfect but a powerful medicine for the weak”
Back to reading Francis – I cannot help thinking of Plato’s advice about democracy being the safest but not necessarily the best form of governance. A benevolent monarch would be best the Athenian thought. The dysunctional global economic system we are all immersed in is savaged in a clear crisp and cogent way in Francis’s script. This I imagine makes sense to the unemployed youth of Europe. The Gospel is pitted against the free market. “The opinion never confirmed by facts” that has been the critique of Christian awareness in the secular mind set is now turned on economics and its global stench.
Then there is the cut and trust of the issues that the dogmatic Catholics deal with. Francis isn’t a dogmatic Catholic but he seems to realise that Christianity is in trouble at a credibility level globally; “Don’t do as they do, do as they say” type of stuff. That is why there appears to be a self-evident ring to much of his script to me.
Is Francis allowing Christianity to reinvent itself in and through him at a time when the adventure seems to have gone out of Christianity? For some of us he is calling us out of a Baroque setting that has become a stale home, but homes are for leaving as Richard Rohr memorably says. Our true homeland is in heaven as we often remind ourselves at gravesides and maybe that’s the joy that is calling us out of our “small protective sanities”. Evangelii Gaudium!