We Cannot Keep Ourselves Shut Up

Church of Mercy by Pope Francis - quote 1

I recently came across a video of a certain West Coast bishop who was celebrating a Latin Mass with a group of very “traditionalist” priests in birettas and fiddle-back vestments.  The bishop preached to them with all the pomp and circumstance of a Medieval prince addressing his courtiers and he seemed positively aglow with satisfaction.

I doubt if he and Pope Francis see exactly eye-to-eye on the Church’s priorities.

Pope Francis does not want a Church that looks defensively inward to its own glory and perfection (ha!) but, in that glorious phrase, he wants us to be a “field hospital.” Triage of the wounded is a tough, demanding and often messy task… but the results can be extraordinary – lives saved in the nick of time.

People are waiting for the Gospel. Please God, we can help more people understand that it is only Good News.

Read The Church of Mercy by Pope Francis.


  1. Simon says

    Absolutely! I read that a newly appointed bishop in Scotland’s is turning down the “opportunity” to take residence in the bishop’s “palace” but is going to live in one of the housing projects. A marked contrast to the bishop of bing in Germany and a welcome one. I’m not a fan of gestures but if the church wants to be relevant it has to occupy the same world as it’s people.

    • Jim says

      I never used to be a big fan of gestures, but I’m coming around. Maybe I’m expanding my definition of “gestures” to include more than just the empty ones. If the Scottish bishop were moving into a project, but doing so by converting an entire floor of the building into a luxury suite, I would rather he did the honest thing and moved into the palace. On the other hand, if he’s simply moving into a project as-is, and his behavior is otherwise consistent with that show of restraint and humility, that’s fantastic!

  2. Lynda says

    We have been called to look after the marginalized of the world – that could be the lonely person down the street who needs to hear about God’s love or it could be a call to do something more demanding. No matter what we, the Church, have been called to love God and love other people in the same way God loves us. Can we do any less? Pope Francis is leading the Church and all people of the world to think and act more generously, in the way of Jesus the Christ. Thanks be to God.

  3. Jan O says

    Just as an aside, I am sorry to see the fiddleback chasuble associated with traditionalism. I think it is a very beautiful liturgical vestment in itself, and I saw this “Roman” form growing up in the midWest over 50 years ago. Our pastor then worked hard to make the (Latin) Mass understandable and relevant to us, and so I probably associate the chasuble he wore during those liturgies with an authentic kind of generous pastoral goodness–and not pomposity. My current pastor may rival that certain West Coast bishop for pomp and circumstance. The flowing bell-shaped chasuble he wears does not seem to improve his demeanor or self-satisfaction as he surveys his fiefdom at Sunday Eucharists.

  4. says

    Strange as it may sound, sometimes I see things like that to remind us what not to be doing. It’s almost like their jobs are to show the world what it was like and why it is empty. I see nothing of substance when I see those ceremonies and people but I see everything I am looking for in the goodness of Pope Francis and those who live out the Gospel.

    Still, a bit scary to think that people buy into the shiny, self-aggrandizing country club mentality the way they do.

  5. Emma says

    We ‘ll only help people understand that it’s good news when we start to believe it ourselves. First we have to stop taking it so seriously! and stop pointing fingers at each other. Once truly filled with the love of Christ, it’s easy. Then, we demonstrate. Go out into those margins with confidence and joy! When others see that light, they’ll ask what it is. Then, share. The most off putting person is the person who makes every conversation about God. I hope Catholics don’t take this call to mean they should turn into Bible Thumpers! There’s nothing worse than being beaten over the head with the Word of God! When the time is right, the Teacher will appear :) Can be scarey to move beyond our social comfort zones, but when we do we find others just like us. Differing circumstances, but we have more in common with them than we think. Take your own gifts and share them. Not everyone is a priest or meant to be, but we’re all meant to share. I think that’s why that one line “He goes before us ” bolstered me. Recently started interning at a therapeutic riding facility. A lot of people there with different challenges. A young woman with cerebral, palsy, a four yr old with Downs. I was so uncomfortable the first day. Now, I see others just like me. I don’t preach the Gospel, but try to demonstrate it. “Preach the Gospel always, when necessary, use words “. I receive more than the people I assist do. Much more! As for the Mass. I enjoy the Traditional Mass. It tells me “Something is happening here. Pay attention!! ” :)

  6. Kate says

    I don’t think the remark was about the form of the mass, rather that in celebrating it in that fashion these people were feeling self-satisfied and perhaps looking down on others – like nobility. It instantly called to mind the Pharisees and High Priests that challenged Jesus. Whereas the image of someone in a field hospital is someone who gets messy touching the injured and literally crouches down to look into their eyes to save their lives. Let alone Christ getting down onto the floor to wash feet and therefore having to look up and into the eyes of his disciples.

    • Dolly says

      Thank you, Kate, for beautifully putting it into perspective. I am of the same opinion, too. While reading it, I had in mind the image of a “field hospital” in Pope Francis hugging that diseased man, as contrasted to the “pomp and circumstance of a Medieval prince.”
      And I do love this quote of yours: “Let alone Christ getting down onto the floor to wash feet and therefore having to look up and into the eyes of his disciples.”

  7. says

    I would say this about vestments, old or new… There is a balance, like there is in all things. They are not inherently good or bad, and I don’t think that was the message, as Kate elucidated far more clearly than I will.

    However, what comes between the ordained and the lay? A vestment can inform, but a vestment can also separate. That is the problem, when it is used primarily for the latter, and not the former.

    • Lynda says

      As a relatively new Catholic, I am always full of questions and I have asked my pastor all about the vestments. Each vestment is symbolic and carries great meaning with it. I think if we were all informed of the significance of the vestments and the priest kept that in mind, it would be a humbling experience for all of us, lay and clergy alike.

  8. Emma says

    I don’t disagree with going out amongst the masses, but how is this going to be implemented? Didn’t the first apostles travel in pairs? Yes. Walk with the sheep, take on the smell of the sheep would almost require becoming one of them. Therein lies the elephant in the room. We know one young shepherd, a close friend of my husband, who’s sitting in state prison for eight yrs. because he got a little too close to the sheep. With a shortage of vocations would a better course be for the laity to get out there under the guidance of the shepherd? or at least accompany him. After all, a sheep knows the pitfalls inside the flock. It’s easy to put it all on the clergy, but not always the best path to take.

  9. Margaret says

    Paul, I am interested in buying this book for Kindle, but am getting confused on Amazon. When I click for Kindle, it takes me to a different cover, and says the publisher is Darton, Longman and Todd ( or similar). I am not sure if this is the same book… Is it because of where I live?

    • Emma says

      Enter “Loyola Press ” into the Amazon Search Engine and you’ll find it there. Just download from that onto the kindle. Hope that helps :)

  10. Margaret says

    Thanks Emma. Have got myself sorted now. It does seem like the Kindle version has a different publisher/ cover page- but is otherwise the same.

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