Like the cloak of Jesus, we do not think the object as divine. Rather, we call them "windows" to heaven, because we encounter Jesus through material objects.
I am deeply hopeful that a pope who speaks so eloquently about protecting the fragility of creation likewise respects the science that has made it possible for us to learn so much about the natural world on which we all depend for life.
When Cardinal Dolan on Easter spoke kindly of the gays and lesbians, media feigned shock. In reality, the Catholic Church challenges all its members -- in different ways over different issues.
Ever notice when someone encounters an unhappy circumstance, they deem themselves being punished? Yet, when an incredible chain of remedial events take place, and they are rescued or delivered from a dilemma or catastrophe, they merely "lucked out?"
I have found that one of the most challenging parts of my job is to get people to look for similarities at least as zealously as they look for differences. The more we identify as different, the less happy we are because we are denying the nature of the world. We are not separate.
The great show of the new pope is the best example of the theology of glory. The story of Good Friday is the story of the theology of the cross. It is not hard to see where Christianity in the United States is rooted.
The real significance of Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday, and Easter Sunday is about rebirth.
This year Easter will be celebrated on March 31, but in 2014 it will occur on April 20. The reason has to do with the mismatch between the periodicity of the sun and the moon and the long history of human efforts to create a reliable and consistent calendar.
On this Good Friday, as on many before, I consider anew the full range of torture and humiliation to which Jesus of Nazareth was subjected, physical and sexual. The latter is so traumatizing for the Church that we have covered it up -- literally.
Eccentric extremes, I suppose, can be controversial, even if sometimes understandable. What is less understandable is the arbitrary changing of ceremonial rubrics. If I were to place any bets, I'd say Pope Francis will make other ceremonial changes that will shock traditional Catholics.
Just as God's Spirit surprised Saint Peter by leading him to the Gentiles and showing him that they too can be God's people, so too perhaps God's Spirit is gently nudging Pope Francis, the Catholic Church and indeed all of us to be similarly surprised by the Other.
This story, one which has largely been overlooked in all current reporting, stretches back well into the past. Indeed, we need to reach back 737 years, to 1276, for the events in question.
We can only guess at the motivation of Pope Francis while he was Jesuit provincial during the years of the junta. Maybe be believed open confrontation would make things worse.
I might not believe in God, but I believe that Catholics and atheists can work together just as all of humanity can work together towards equality and justice when we put the needs of modern people first and the arcane doctrine second.
Most of us don't choose our names. Unless you're P.Diddy, then you get a new one every two years when you re-up your cellphone contract. The names choose us, or are chosen for us.
Francis is the pope, not a politician. Applying a political framework to interpret his actions is like following a baseball game with a football manual.