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Being Truly Thankful

Although it is hard to accept challenges in life, I am very thankful for Pope Francis. Yes, let me say that again: I am thankful for Pope Francis. On a regular basis he says things that challenge me and it makes me dig deeply into the faith to make sure that I know what the Church has always taught. A Pope who only says things that I already believe does not have this same impact. Now let me be clear: I am not saying that I like disagreeing with the Pope. Yet, there are different graces that God gives to each of His people, and similarly, there are different graces that He gives to each Pope. Our current pontiff appears to have the grace of "motivation"; he can motivate those who wish to keep the faith to make sure that they know what it is.

I know a number of people who have said openly that they were motivated to learn their faith when they heard something that did not make sense to them. What a great cause to give thanks to God. Every cloud has a silver lining; and every Pope does something that is good for the people of God (even if it is not something that he plans or expects--or something that we like). If something is said that sounds like modernism, faithful Catholics run to the Trent Catechism or some other sound resource to confirm what the Church says. Who else can say that they are able to make people do that? Some, but not many.

This is not to say that I know Pope Francis' heart or mind; I only know what I have read and heard. It was, however, St. John Henry Cardinal Newman, who said that, "a bad Pope is like a train crash: a truly spectacular event, bound to horrify and absorb the mind”. When anything that a Pope does seems bad, we can get easily caught up in being "horrified" and having our minds "absorbed" with the event. That only keeps us from learning and growing in the faith. Dig into your faith. Read the foundational documents of the Church (i.e. those written before the 20th century), read the Roman Catechism, read the Scriptures; examine what the Church has always said.

If, in our examination of the faith, we find that we can learn something new that the Church has always said, but that we had not heard, then we are closer to God because of it. If we react rightly when something confuses us or sounds contradictory to the deposit of the faith, then we are blessed for it. God always gives us the Pope that we need, and we have to look at what He does with the eyes of faith and hope. Once again, I am thankful; especially for all those who have come back to the faith because they realized more profoundly what that faith truly is. Lord, have mercy upon us.


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