Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Of Stephen Colbert, Jesuits, Lent, Pope Francis, and Catholic Hymnody

I saw this great video (via uCatholic) of Catholic comedian powerhouse, and future Late Show host, Stephen Colbert being, very briefly, interviewed by Fr. James Martin, S.J. of the more-than-sometimes questionably orthodox America magazine. Even aside from the awesome beard Colbert is sporting (and his answer about Sixties guitar Masses) this short video gives a nice glance at a celebrity who isn't afraid of being, publicly, Catholic.

Which made me think I ought to share my own answers to these questions and invite any of you who feel like doing so to join me in comments.

What are you giving up for Lent?
I've a written a bit about the great initiative our priest has set up this year for the whole parish to communally celebrate Lent this year by giving up different things each week together. This has the added bonus of not being able to choose our penances for ourselves (even for those of us who don't have a "Jewish friend" to do the picking like Fr. Martin). I've already found Father's choices to be challenging and expect the difficulty to only increase as we move through Lent. It's not too late to join us! Check out the full post here: Join Me this Lent in Sacrificing Together for Christ. In brief, I'm giving up:
First Week of Lent: Sweets and Treats
Second Week of Lent: Unnecessary Spending
Third Week of Lent: Careless Talk, Profanity, Blasphemy
Fourth Week of Lent: Alcohol and/ or Coffee
Fifth Week of Lent: Entertainment
Holy Week: Food
If you had one thing to say to Pope Francis what would it be?
Wow. That is a tough question. Colbert's answer was good. Francis is a master of the evangelii gaudium that he preaches. However, I think I'd rather ask him, and again this might be a reflection of blogging about things Catholic, what he thinks of (or if he is aware of, or if aware if he cares about) the nearly constant misinterpretations the media provides Catholics with whenever he says or does anything. I'd like to ask him if he realizes the portrait that is painted of him (the long awaited "liberal" destroyer of the Church) and if that matters to him.

That or I'd ask him about the upcoming Synod...

What do you think he'd say?
If I went with the first question, I suppose he'd say say that he does indeed realize the misunderstandings and that he is aware of the false portrait the media has deliberately constructed about him since he first strode onto St. Peter's loggia. I think he'd also say that he simply doesn't care. He's a "faithful son of the Church," as he's repeatedly said, and he is more concerned with gathering the lost sheep (cf. Lk 15:4) than he is about Time or The Advocate or America Magazine have to say about him.

If I asked about the Synod, I suppose he'd comment on the
temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called – today – “traditionalists” and also of the intellectuals.1
While also condemning
The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the “do-gooders,” of the fearful, and also of the so-called “progressives and liberals.2
In other words, he'd be Catholic.

Who is your favorite saint?
I have so many it makes choosing one hard, but my "favorite saint" is probably St. Thomas Aquinas. I continually go back to his writings for their clarify and profundity while simultaneously being overawed at the holy life he lived. Lately, though, the saint I've felt the most drawn to (and the saint I've dedicated 2015 to) is a "new" Saint, Pope John Paul the Great. The powerful witness of his life, from the stresses of living in extreme deprivation under Nazi and Communist rule in Poland to the high water mark of being elected Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Catholic Church to the absolute trust in God's providence that he showed in his slow decline and death are truly awe inspiring. His constant reminder to "be not afraid" has become my unofficial motto for the year as I seek to root out all worry from my life (in an attempt to fulfill the command Colbert talks about in the video).

Favorite Scripture passage?
Again, I have several. However, as someone who does online apologetics and evangelization, I find the parable of the sower from Matthew 13 has special resonance,
That same day Jesus went out of the house and sat beside the sea. And great crowds gathered about him, so that he got into a boat and sat there; and the whole crowd stood on the beach. And he told them many things in parables, saying: “A sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell along the path, and the birds came and devoured them. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they had not much soil, and immediately they sprang up, since they had no depth of soil, but when the sun rose they were scorched; and since they had no root they withered away. Other seeds fell upon thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given. For to him who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. This is why I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. With them indeed is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says:
‘You shall indeed hear but never understand,
    and you shall indeed see but never perceive.
For this people’s heart has grown dull,
    and their ears are heavy of hearing,
    and their eyes they have closed,
lest they should perceive with their eyes,
    and hear with their ears,
and understand with their heart,
    and turn for me to heal them.’
 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. Truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When any one hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in his heart; this is what was sown along the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is he who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the delight in riches choke the word, and it proves unfruitful. As for what was sown on good soil, this is he who hears the word and understands it; he indeed bears fruit, and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty.”

Favorite Catholic Hymn?
If we leave chants aside, definitely his one:

All right, your turn. 

1. Pope Francis, Speech at the close of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family, 10/18/14 (source)
2. ibid.

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