Brother Sun, Sister Moon

God, allegedly, works in mysterious ways. Tonight’s elevation of the first ever Pope Francis may just be an example of that.

Whether it will be in time to stem the rush from church by many in the west or,on a more personal note, sort out my own little local difficulties with the Catholic Church, i don’t know. But this is a promising start.

How so? Well, i guess many of the regular pundits will be looking at the career of the former Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis I. There they will find, already, an intriguing mix of conservatism, with a willingness to get out into the street and engage with those individuals oft deemed, by the church hierarchy, to be untouchable: single mums, for one.

But i’d go further. As someone who adopted Francis as my own guiding saint many years back – even went to the trouble of getting married on his feat day, October 4 – i am well aware that Franbcis represents something quite startling within catholic tradition.

Because Francis himself was a force for incredible change. In the end unsuccessful, he is nonetheless very closely identified with an attempt to get back to first principles and base teaching much more closely on the words of Christ.

He was a peacemaker and one of the first environmentalists, calling all living beings his “brothers” and “sisters”. His Canticle of the Creatures talks lovingly not only of Brother Sun and Sister Moon, but also Sister Death. Not for nothing was he taken up and almost re-sainted by some parts of 60’s hippydom: Franco Zeffirelli’s film, celebrating his life, is another instance of hippy tendencies attributed to Saint Francis in later years.

St Francis is known for a few other ideas that quite broke with what was accepted at the time: his absolute commitment to peace and non-violence – and to poverty; his attempts to find a rapprochement with the muslim world.

A break with the past

Of course, i may be building too much on the back of a simple choice. But i don’t think so.

It is interesting that there has never before been a Pope Francis – especially given how important a role St Francis plays within the church’s development. A number of reasons for that, i suspect.

Laying claim to that name, that robe, is setting the bar very high indeed. Almost – and i suspect the Cardinal must have weighed this in the balance – straying into arrogance. Its laying claim, too, to the reputation of someone who eschewed pomp and riches, who did his utmost to break nearly a thousand years of church tradition and take it back to first principles. Someone who felt that war with the muslim world was not a good idea.

Once more, a pretty significant goal to aim for.

Yet a Cardinal, a man steeped in church tradition and folklore, is not going to be ignorant of any of these things.

So forget history, forget past politics. Tonight, by taking up the challenge of Francis, we have a Pope who is throwing down a gauntlet – or at very least, a white papal glove – to the past and making clear, in the way that only church people can, that things have got to change.


About janefae

On my way from here to there
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5 Responses to Brother Sun, Sister Moon

  1. Francesca says:

    He may have chosen Francis for St Francis Xavier, the Jesuit, and not St Francis of Assisi.

    • janefae says:

      True. Francis of Assisi is not the only St Francis – but my suspicion, given the nature of the church,is that most will assume he meanthim unless/until the Pope makes clear otherwise. We’ll see – and for now i’ll remain optimistic. 🙂


  2. “The next morning, true to his promise, he went down to Monterey. He shopped carefully and bargained with an astuteness that seemed to belie the fact that he had bought nothing in over two years. He came back to Danny’s house in triumph, bearing a huge silk handkerchief in purple and green and also a broad belt studded profusely with colored glass jewels. His friends admired his purchases.

    “But what are you going to wear?” Danny asked despairingly. “Two toes are out of your shoes where you cut holes to ease your bunions. You have only ragged overalls and no hat.”

    “We will have to lend him clothes,” said Jesus Maria. “I have a coat and vest. Pilon has his father’s good hat. You, Danny, have a shirt, and Big Joe has those fine blue pants.”

    “But then we can’t go,” Pilon protested.

    “It is not our candlestick,” said Jesus Maria. “Father Ramon is not likely to say anything nice about us.”

    That afternoon they convoyed the treasure to the priest’s house. He listened to the story of the sick dog, and his eyes softened. “—And then, Father,” said the Pirate, “there was that good little dog, and his nose was dry, and his eyes were like the glass of bottles out of the sea, and he groaned because he hurt inside. And then, Father, I promised the gold candlestick of one thousand days to San Francisco. He is really my patron, Father. And then there was a [98] miracle! For that dog wagged his tail three times, and right away he started to get well. It was a miracle from San Francisco, Father, wasn’t it?”

    The priest nodded his head gravely. “Yes,” he said. “It was a miracle sent by our good Saint Francis. I will buy the candlestick for thee.”

    The Pirate was very glad, for it is no little thing to have one’s prayer answered with a true miracle. If it were noised about, the Pirate would have a higher station on Tortilla Flat. Already his friends looked at him with a new respect. They thought no more of his intelligence than they had before, but they knew now that his meager wits were supplemented with all the power of Heaven and all the strength of the saints.

    They walked back up to Danny’s house, and the dogs walked behind them. The Pirate felt that he had been washed in a golden fluid of beatitude. Little chills and fevers of pleasure chased one another through his body. The paisanos were glad they had guarded his money, for even they took a little holiness from the act. Pilon was relieved that he had not stolen the money in the first place. What terrible things might not have happened if he had taken the two-bitses belonging to a saint! All of the friends were as subdued as though they were in church.

    The five dollars from the salvage had lain like fire in Danny’s pocket, but now he knew what to do with it. He and Pilon went to the market and bought seven pounds of hamburger and a bag of onions and bread and a big paper of candy. Pablo and Jesus Maria went to Torrelli’s for two gallons of wine, and not a drop did they drink on the way home either.

    That night when the fire was lighted and two candles burned on the table, the friends feasted themselves to repletion. It was a party in the Pirate’s honor. He behaved himself with a great deal of dignity. He smiled and smiled when he should have been grave, though. But he couldn’t help that.

    After they had eaten enormously, they sat back and sipped wine out of the fruit jars. “Our little friend,” they called the Pirate.

    Jesus Maria asked, “How did you feel when it happened? [99] When you promised the candlestick and the dog began to get well, how did you feel? Did you see any holy vision?”

    The Pirate tried to remember. “I don’t think so-Maybe I saw a little vision-maybe I saw San Francisco in the air and he was shining like the sun—”

    “Wouldn’t you remember that?” Pilon demanded.

    “Yes—I think I remember—San Francisco looked on me—and he smiled, like the good saint he is. Then I knew the miracle was done. He said, ‘Be good to little doggies, you dirty man.’ ”

    “He called you that?”

    “Well, I was, and he is not a saint to be telling lies.”

    “I don’t think you remember that at all,” said Pablo.

    “Well—maybe not. I think I do, though.” The Pirate was drunk with happiness from the honor and the attention.

  3. Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was 5-months’ pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. The De la Cuadra family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them; Bergoglio then assigned a monsignor to the case. Months passed before the monsignor came back with a written note from a colonel: It revealed that the woman had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family “too important” for the adoption to be reversed.

    Despite this written evidence in a case he was personally involved with, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn’t know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.

    “Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. He says he didn’t know anything about it until 1985,” said the baby’s aunt, Estela de la Cuadra, whose mother Alicia co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 in hopes of identifying these babies. “He doesn’t face this reality and it doesn’t bother him. The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can’t keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is.”

    • janefae says:

      Yeah, right. Very, very easy to skim the latest up to the minute web gleanings and be instantly expert on all that the man thinks and is bound to do.

      Personally, the reaction from some quarters has me quite upset.

      First, because my life is neither pure nor free from mistakes – or change. There are things i’ve said and done and desired and…well, the whole ten yards of stuff…that i would now consider utterly wrong of me. My past contains errors. I suspect my present does, too: i just don’t know them yet.

      My past is also hedged about with one or two peeps whose view of what i did is coloured by ambivalence toward me or just plain dislike. That, too, is life. One makes enemies – and they will say stuff that is partial, biased and sometimes – shock! horror! – just downright untrue.

      So today, i know a little about what this Pope did in his past life. Some of it sounds pretty shit: some of it sounds pretty good.

      I haven’t heard him make a single significant pronouncement on the future and, personally again, i’d rather give the man a while to make his mark before leaping down his throat.


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