Sunday, September 20, 2015

Family, Firsts, and Francis: also Trading Cards

(From Libreria Editrice Vaticana, used w/o permission.)

Pope Francis arrived in Havana, Cuba, yesterday. It's his first stop on the latest apostolic journey:
The first two events in Havana today are Mass at Plaza de la Revolución, followed by a courtesy visit to Cuban officials at Palacio de la Revolución.

Weirdness Ahead?

Conspiracy buffs take note: Pope Francis plans to stay several days in Cuba, one of the last bastions of Marxist/Leninist politics.

I won't be surprised if 'down with Francis' enthusiasts warn about the Pope's 'communist sympathies.' Again.

Hue and cry over the 'communist crucifix' never quite got traction, maybe because too many folks realized it was a gift to the Pope. World leaders get all sorts of offbeat gifts. (July 19, 2015)

The Pope's first stops in the United States are in Washington, D.C. — I'll get back to that. Then he goes to New York City, for meetings at the United Nations, and an interreligious encounter at the Ground Zero memorial.

The United Nations1 meetings will probably ruffle some feathers:
"...The Secretary-General welcomes the visit of Pope Francis as an important part of a historic year in which the United Nations marks its 70th anniversary and in which Member States will take major decisions about sustainable development, climate change and the future peace and well-being of humankind.

"During the visit, Pope Francis will address the United Nations General Assembly. His Holiness will also have bilateral meetings with the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly and will participate in a town hall gathering with United Nations staff.

"The Secretary-General is confident that His Holiness Pope Francis's visit will inspire the international community to redouble its efforts to achieve human dignity for all through ensuring greater social justice, tolerance and understanding among all of the world's peoples."
("Visit of His Holiness Pope Francis at the UN Headquarters and public address," United Nations)
Cross-referencing the papal itinerary with durable conspiracy theories, I came up with a doozy: the Pope's visit is part of the New World Order's plot to establish the Fourth Reich through population control and mass media.

I think it sounds silly, but some folks might not: so I'd better explain that I'm just making this up. 

Apocalyptic prognostications are another perennial favorite, so someone may cook up another End Times prophecy — starring Obama as the Antichrist, the Catholic Church as Babylonian paganism, and the United Nations as a Zionist plot.

Or maybe not. I haven't heard a peep about the Papal corn alter in Paraguay, back in July: apart from a CNA article.

Corncobs and Rookie Cards

(From CNA, used w/o permission.)
("Papal altar at Asuncion's Ñu Guazú park in Paraguay. July 2015."
Spectacular Paraguay altar destined to be broken down, recycled
Catholic News Agency (July 12, 2015)

"Asunción, Paraguay, Jul 12, 2015 / 03:07 pm (CNA).- The more than 60,000 corncobs, 20,000 squashes and 150,000 coconuts that adorn the altarpiece in Asuncion’s Ñu Guazú park where Pope Francis celebrated Mass on the last day of his visit to Paraguay won't be going to waste.

"Now that the Mass and the Pope have come and gone, the products will be recycled.

" 'The coconuts will be used to make soap and the corncobs are destined to feed animals. The squash will be given to people. From it, a sweet called "andai" is made,' the artist, Kiko Ruiz, told CNA days before the celebration...."

(From CNA, used w/o permission.)
(Corncobs, coconuts, squashes, and the Pope, in Paraguay. (July 2015))

The altar was 131 feet long, almost 56 feet tall: more than 4,305 square feet covered with corn, coconuts and squash. The mosaics show St. Francis, left; and St. Ignatius of Loyola, right: recalling the Franciscan and Jesuit missions who evangelized Paraguay.

Getting back to the Pope's visit to Cuba and the United States, the Philadelphia Phillies have been giving away Pope Francis Rookie Cards. (

(From, ABC6 News in Philadelphia; used w/o permission.)
("...Phillies-themed Pope Francis at the First Base and Third Base Kiosks...."

(From, ABC6 News in Philadelphia; used w/o permission.)
("In addition to his basic info, the card is number 266 in honor of his spot in the chronological order of popes. It also notes his Papal Debut and Position."

This isn't the first time a Pope appeared on a trading card.

Pope Francis is on a 2013 Topps card. says Popes St. John Paul II, and Bl. Paul VI, and Leo XIII, had cards, too.

I think's Ryan Cracknell has a good attitude about the 'Papal' trading cards:
"...The Pope Francis card looks like a fun piece with a definite late 1990s or early 2000s vibe to it. The bottom says that it’s a rookie card, an innocent nod to the hobby that does actually add to the presentation...."
(Ryan Cracknell, (September 16, 2015))
One thing I appreciate about the cards pictured by is that they seem to be fairly high quality.

I've opined about kitsch, schlock, and religious art, before. (August 17, 2013)

Another positive point about the new Papal trading cards is that they got their facts straight.

Two 'Firsts,' and Business as Usual

If all goes well, we'll have two 'firsts' next Wednesday: a canonization Mass in the United States, and a Pope addressing this nation's Congress.

Predictably, not everybody is happy about this:
That's understandable.

Father Junípero Serra's missionary activities "suppressed" local cultures here — much as Christian missionaries suppressed my ancestors' more colorful habits. (August 9, 2015)

More recently, Pope Francis upset quite a few folks with his 'environmental encyclical.' Instead of skimming through it, I've been studying the document — all 31,000-plus words.

As nearly as I can tell, the Pope says that we should behave as if we care about future generations. I can see where that would be controversial, since he also says 'business as usual' isn't acceptable.

The Pope's address to Congress apparently will include some concerns raised in "Laudato si'." Maybe that will prod me into studying the last few pages.

Getting a Grip about "Dominion"

Being rich or poor is okay. Having money isn't a problem: loving the stuff is. (1 Timothy 6:10; Hebrews 13:5; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2544, 2546)

The trick is being detached from wealth. (Catechism, 2556)

Everyone — rich, poor, and in between — has equal dignity. But we're not all alike: and aren't supposed to be. These differences include age, physical abilities, and wealth. (Catechism 357, 1934-1938)

We can use our differences as opportunities for generosity, kindness, and sharing of goods. Or we can decide to misuse them. (Catechism, 1937-1938)

Here's where I get back to environmental concerns, climate change, and "Laudato si'."

One of our jobs is having "dominion" of this world's resources. (Genesis 1:27)

"Dominion" is not ownership.

We're like the steward of an estate, or a shop foreman: with authority and responsibilities.

Making reasoned use of the world's resources is part of our job. So is making sure that future generations have what they'll need. (Catechism, 339, 952, 2402-2405, 2456)

Earth's climate has been changing for billions of years, and will, I think, continue to do so. But now that we're here, and have technology that affects climate, managing that change is our responsibility.

So is using our brains.

I've been over this before:

World Meeting of Families, 2015

Someone's sure to be upset after Pope Francis meets with Hispanics and other immigrants at Philadelphia's Independence Mall, and visits detainees at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility: either because of what they read in the news, or what they didn't read.

I've already run into imaginative comments — praising Pope Francis for his "openness" to non-traditional families, and criticizing him for the same reason.

As far as I can tell, it's like his 'changing stand on abortion.'

It's what our Lord told us: repentance is possible, and so is forgiveness.

Instead of pitching the first stone, Jesus told the woman whose accusers "went away one by one:" "Neither do I condemn you. Go, (and) from now on do not sin any more." (John 8:3-11)

I've talked about sin, forgiveness, and the news, before. (September 6, 2015)

I checked out the World Meeting of Families Congress website yesterday. It's not the same as being there, but my online jaunts are a whole lot easier on the family budget.
Photos and an excerpt from the Pope's Family Day 2013 homily seems like a good way to wrap this up:

(Copyright Photographic Service L'Osservatore Romano, - email:; used w/o permission.)
"...True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life's journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God, the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. And above all, a love which is patient: patience is a virtue of God and he teaches us how to cultivate it in family life, how to be patient, and lovingly so, with each other. To be patient among ourselves. A patient love. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.

"Dear families, always live in faith and simplicity, like the Holy Family of Nazareth! The joy and peace of the Lord be always with you!"
(Holy Mass for the Family Day,"2, Pope Francis (October 27, 2013))
Part two of Synod 14 starts in about a month, and that's another topic.

So are these posts, more or less:

1 I'm no great fan of the United Nations — or the United States Congress. But these institutions are what we have to work with today. (July 5, 2015; August 24, 2014)

Tomorrow — I hope that we will eventually cobble together an international authority "with the necessary competence and power" to settle disputes with justice and mercy. (Catechism, 2308; "Gaudium et Spes," 79)

That will take time, and a great deal of effort, but I think we can. We certainly must try:
"...We must overcome our fear of the future. But we will not be able to overcome it completely unless we do so together. The 'answer' to that fear is neither coercion nor repression, nor the imposition of one social 'model' on the entire world. The answer to the fear which darkens human existence at the end of the twentieth century is the common effort to build the civilization of love, founded on the universal values of peace, solidarity, justice, and liberty...."
("To the United Nations Organization," Pope St. John Paul II (October 5, 1995)
2 Full text of the Pope's homily:

1 comment:

Indhra Kannan said...

Hi, thank you very much for help. I am going to test that in the near future. Cheers

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.