Saturday of the Fourth Week of Lent
by Fr. Michael Maher, S.J
Reading tea leaves was a popular entertainment in Victorian England where the smallest remnants of tea were read, analyzed, and acted upon by persons interested in predicting the future. In some ways, the press has revived the art of reading tea leaves by making incredible judgments on the smallest phrases and actions of the newly elected pontiff. All of us can count ourselves lucky that we are not in positions where our simple gestures and actions are dissected and open to every interpretation. I hope never to be in a position where my theological and political stance is judged by the color of my shoes. The church has always frowned on fortune telling since it predisposes our actions towards what we think will happen instead of allowing God’s grace and well-directed human effort to influence our decisions.
Pope Francis’ papacy is still being counted in hours, barely days, and not even weeks and yet the man and his papacy has been mapped out by some with clarity and precision based a few words and gestures. There is no doubt, however, that he is a man given to prayer, thankfulness, and simplicity, traits that were well-known prior to his election.
Perhaps we need to let our new Holy Father speak for himself, as I am sure he will, and leave the fortune tellers for the sideshow. We need to shape our understanding of Pope Francis on what he says and writes and not the impressions of journalists and commentators.