With the second anniversary of Pope Francis on March 13, I was thinking about how one person has been able to inspire and unite so many people in such a short time, but not without some controversy. His early comment, "who am I to judge", certainly got it all going. People were able to spin that anyway they wanted. I personally thought it was a very Christ like humble statement. This reminded me about the life of St. Patrick and the tolerance of the Irish. But others took it to mean, it's an anything goes Church, but we all know that this is not the case at all. The Church is rooted in love, hope, charity and tradition and will always remain that way. That's why Catholics love their faith and pope. It's also the celebration of St. Patrick's life and I'm reminded that this day always brought people together in my neighborhood of South Boston.
My mother said to me growing up, why do you want to be a professional basketball player and play for the Celtics, why don't you become a priest and make something of yourself? Later when I told her I was going to get into politics, she almost lost all hope in me entirely. Playing basketball or being in politics was not what she envisioned for her son. Something more respectful and meaningful, she thought. Well, I wonder what she would think today with all the unfair publicity directed at the Church and its clergy? For example, I read a couple of stories and even an obituary about the passing of Cardinal Edward Egan of New York City. It unfairly depicted him as a "strident out of touch religious zealot," not the friendly holy priest that I've known for 25 years. He obviously didn't conform to the growing secular philosophy that some church critics actively promote. Why wouldn't these sources be hostile, much of what they advocate flies in the face of traditional Catholic Church teaching. They must feel that to be a good cardinal that you must say and do what the politically correct crowd thinks. That Church leaders should support what politicians do best and that is go along with what the "elite crowd" thinks.
Later that night while attending the Stations of the Cross at St. Brigid Church in South Boston with my wife Kathy and my Special Needs grandson Braeden, whose father is from Ireland, one of the older parishioners came up to me and said, "Is this the little Irish boy we pray for?" I replied, "Yes this is Braeden." "Well I want you to know that Fr. Casey asked us to pray and help the poor and to fast during Lent. I don't have much, but I'm sending $10.00 to the African Missions and I'm praying for all of God's Special Needs Children like this little lad," she said, placing her hand on Braeden's head. I took home a parish bulletin, which contains a plea from Cardinal O'Malley for us to help the poor, especially during Lent. When I got home, we watched EWTN TV and saw Pope Francis reaching out to handicapped elderly people and blessing them as religious nuns at the Vatican soup kitchen served food to the poor. A homeless man named Willy had just been buried quietly inside the Vatican Gardens. Mass was celebrated at Sant' Anna's Chapel inside the grounds. I said to myself, maybe my mother was right after all. What the Pope, Cardinal's, priests and nuns do is far more meaningful than playing basketball or being a politician. They work to help the poor, elderly and sick.
On March 13, it will be 2 years that this remarkably popular modern day Patrick has been Pope. Let's do something to show our love and support for the Pope. Let's put a couple of extra dollars in the collection box in church to help the poor in honor of the occasion. Oh yes, we can do something else. We can think about our parents who reminded us of what's really important in life. Love, hope and sharing. That's what I'll be thinking about this week as I reflect on the life of St. Patrick, Pope Francis and all our wonderful nuns and priests. And yes I'll conclude, that as usual, Mom also had her priorities straight.