I have had the experience a few times. It happens during Mass and it makes me squirm. I might even sneak a look around to find out if people are looking at me. And I’m willing to bet I’m now the only one who has had this particular experience: The Catholic Creeps.
There I sit in Mass, well-behaved, quiet. The priest is giving a perfectly fine homily. Then he warns the congregation of a particular shortcoming or temptation that plagues people and I have the sense he is talking directly to me.
Oh no! Father knows I’m insensitive, impatient, envious…whatever. And he is calling me out right here in front of everyone!
Of course, he isn’t doing any such thing. He is raising legitimate concerns and my conscience makes the connection. That darn conscience.
My pastor can instill The Catholic Creeps on only a few hundred parishioners at a time. But think of the Pope; he can do it to the multitudes.
Pope Francis dishes out The Catholic Creeps in the best sense, challenging us to be the best versions of Catholic that we can be. Sometimes it seems like he is talking personally to me, although I’m pretty sure he didn’t roll out of bed thinking of how his homily that day would move little old me.
Likewise, I doubt he saunters over to St. Peter’s Square for a Sunday Angelus thinking, “Hey, have I got a great message today just for Jimbo…he could use a little poke in the side.”
Just the same, that doesn’t prevent his words from having a particular resonance with me, as they seemed to have one Sunday, when the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the square and declared 35 new saints. (By the way, of all the good things a Pope gets to do, can anything be more fun than declaring saints?)
He gave a beautiful homily based on the day’s gospel about the king and the wedding feast from Matthew 22. It is here if you would like to read it.
A few phrases popped out that seemed aimed at our Movement:
- Our relationship with him, then, has to be more than that of devoted subjects with their king, faithful servants with their master, or dedicated students with their teacher.
- In other words, the Lord wants us, he goes out to seek us and he invites us.
- For him, it is not enough that we should do our duty and obey his laws. He desires a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness.
- Such is the Christian life, a love story with God.
- No one has a better seat than anyone else, for all enjoy God’s favor.
- We can ask ourselves if at least once a day we tell the Lord that we love him; if we remember, among everything else we say, to tell him daily, “Lord, I love you; you are my life”
- They were more interested in having something rather than in risking something, as love demands.
- This is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of a preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort… We settle into the easy chair of profits, pleasures, or a hobby that brings us some happiness.
- And we end up aging badly and quickly, because we grow old inside. When our hearts do not expand, they become closed in on themselves.
- We need to put on God’s love and to renew our choice for him daily.
If you are reading this (and you survived this far into the article), you, like me, likely have had moments when you could stop “renewing.” I think the Pope just gave us, and every other Christian, the only true answer to that question: never.
“We need to put on God’s love and to renew our choice for him daily.” Each day is an opportunity to love anew…to accept God’s love…to renew.