When our Holy Father‘s plane touched down outside of Rome last Monday, July 29, he decided to stop by St Mary Major Basilica on his way back to the Vatican and give Blessed Mother a little gift of gratitude for her protection and intercession for World Youth Day in Rio last week. So, like any son who loves his mother, he brought her what he had: a beach ball and tee shirt which were given to him in Brazil. ANY mom who has ever received a handful of squished dandelions as a gift from her son will understand how happily our heavenly Mother received these gifts from the heart of Pope Francis.
Well I guess there are no mothers who post on ‘traditional catholic’ websites because the whimpering that has gone on unabated since our Holy Father was elected on March 13, 2013 rose to gnashing of teeth last Monday. The snide remarks can be summed up in a headline from one these sites: “Bring beach balls of the fairest, bring tee-shirts of the rarest.” Of course, this disparaging diatribe was a takeoff on the Marian hymn, “Bring Flowers of the Fairest.”
I know. I know that “haters gonna hate.” There’s not much that anyone can do about that. But, like most haters, many people who frequent rad-trad sites would never see themselves as haters. They often see their cynicism as humanitarian, that is, trying to help the Catholic Church stay on course or return to the golden days of yesteryear. Or something.
Since nothing happens in a vacuum, it makes sense that the rad-trad faction arose as a reaction to the unfettered years of kumbaya liberalism that has gripped the Catholic Church in the West for the last forty years. The irony is that both factions end up at the same place: Each side builds an altar to their own perceptions and gives priority to worship at that altar over obedience and humility. No, it’s not mandatory that everyone on both the right and the left love our current (or any) Pope but common courtesy should be a minimum that any Father can expect from his children, especially those claiming to love the Church.
A far healthier, and therefore happier, reflection on the normative relationship of a Catholic with our Blessed Mother is found in the August 2013 issue of Magnificat. Written by the always reliable Anthony Esolen, this clip captures the essence of what Pope Francis was doing by laying a beach ball at Mary’s feet:
“When Christians forget to honor their mother, the faith can harden into intellectual assertions, like the angles of a stern old Puritan church, where the Word of God may be heard, but all too often without the gentleness of a mother’s touch, without the sweetness of mercy. Why should we suppose that the Son of God, who in his humanity submitted to the loving direction of Mary, would not encourage us to submit to her direction likewise? When we pray the Memorare, we flee the terrors of this world and the judgments that await our sins in the next, as a child would flee to his mother. In that headlong flight, we leave behind all excuses, arguments, hesitations and denials. We have no more time for hedging, none for pretending. We stand before her, sinful and sorrowful, with no other voice than a plea. Is that a shameful thing, beneath the dignity of the learned and the important? If it seems childish, we should remember that Jesus was a little child too, and no doubt at some time ran to the bosom of his Mother; and it is he who praises his Father, maker of heaven and earth, for revealing secret things to the foolish–even unto babes.”