Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Pope Francis' Advice To Young Seminarians and Novices: Dumb Phones, Boring Cars, and Joyful Faces

This is a 20 year old Fiat Campagnola, one of which was borrowed from a local resident so that Pope Francis could use it on his trip to Lampesuda. No bullet proof glass or anything saying 'Mercedes'. No plug in for a smart phone either.

I have to admit I chuckled with Pope Francis' advice to novices and seminarians this past weekend.  He advised them to watch it with the smart phones and drive less flashier older cars. I consider myself right there with Pope Francis as I do drive an older though kind of cute vehicle and although I recently had to upgrade to a smart phone, I use it poorly, hardly at all, and in 'dumb' mode.  That's got to count for something.  However, the cynical generations seem to be opening up to Francis and he's even giving them some hope for the future of Catholicism.  Here's an article from Wonkette by Dr Zoom I found humorous as well.  It's on the same homily, and I have to also admit I agree with quite a bit of  Dr Zoom's take.

 Pope Tells Priests And Nuns To Drive More Boring Cars

Oh, man, New Pope is doing that thing again, where he says stuff that makes us like him even if he is that head of a big corrupt institution that does evil nasty things. But we give him credit for trying to turn some of that down, what with the living in a little apartment and not eating gold and stuff, and so let’s have a little cheer for some comments Saturday that would probably bring a smile to the face of his simple-living namesake. In a talk to trainee priests and nuns, New Pope said that they should avoid fancy material possessions and instead concentrate on helping the poor. That shouldn’t be news — it’s no “New Pope Blesses Bikers” — but considering that the papacy is notorious for Prada slippers and a level of décor that Donald Trump considers a tad overdone, it’s news.
Francis told the trainees,
“It hurts me when I see a priest or a nun with the latest model car, you can’t do this.”
“A car is necessary to do a lot of work, but please, choose a more humble one. If you like the fancy one, just think about how many children are dying of hunger in the world.”
New Pope’s edging into Click & Clack territory reminded us that the first time we ever saw a Mercedes-Benz in our tiny Oregon mill town was when our parish priest bought one in the late 1960s. We were such hick kids that we argued over how to mispronounce it — Yr Doktor Zoom was in the “mer-seeds” camp, because “mer-keeds” just sounded crazy, and even if Janis Joplin’s song had been around, we weren’t the kind of kids whose parents let us listen to that hippie stuff. We don’t remember overhearing any parental tsk-tsking about the priest’s extravagance, but there had to have been some, because we definitely remember, a few years later, some very approving comments about Sister Whassername and her very sensible Dodge Dart. (And serviceable Buster Browns.)

And yes, we know, the Vatican still has vast wealth and it is full of graft and corruption and it is terrible, we totally get that. But like so many ex-Catholics who still would be glad to see Mother Church get its shit together, we’re staying cautiously optimistic about Francis. (That's one way to describe this hope of many ex-Catholics.)

Incidentally, New Pope’s own vehicular choices are encouraging — he uses a Ford Focus to get around Vatican City, and on a recent trip to a Mediterranean island, he didn’t have the armored Mercedes Popemobile airlifted in. Instead, the papal advance team arranged to borrow a locally owned 20-year old Fiat Campagnola. This prompted the website “dnaIndia” to win the internet with the headline “Papal Fiat — Francis spurns flashy cars.”


Pope Francis also made some other observations which point to his really unique point of view.  Right after he speaks of fancy cars and smart phones he makes another really cogent observation about the choices of today's youth vs his own youth.  This is taken from the Vatican Radio website, which is now linked on the sidebar.  Pope Francis has made this website pretty much a daily hit for me.
“It is not you that I reproach” said the Pope, and he specified that it is today’s culture of the provisional of which we are all victims that does not help us: “because in this day and age it is very difficult to make a definitive choice”. He pointed out that when he was young it was easier because the culture of the time favoured definitive choices, be it in conjugal life, in consecrated life or in priestly life. But today – he said “it is not easy to make a definitive choice. We are victims of this culture of the provisional”. (Maybe it's just me, but referring to this current culture as 'provisional' makes it easier to get at some of what EPBenedict kept referring to as relativism.)

And then Pope Francis took seminarians and novices to task for being “too serious, too sad”. ``Something's not right here,'' Francis told them pointing out that `'There is no sadness in holiness,'' and adding that such clergy lack `'the joy of the Lord.''

“To become a priest or a religious is not primarily our choice; it is our answer to a calling, a calling of love”.

`'If you find a seminarian, priest, nun, with a long, sad face, if it seems as if in their life someone threw a wet blanket over them,'' then one should conclude `'it's a psychiatric problem, they can leave - `buenos dias’”.

His off the cuff remarks can be priceless.  I love his last sentence.  Yes, truly, if your religious vocation does not bring 'the joy of the Lord', makes you live like a 'wet blanket', one is most likely better off with a psychiatrist rather than a spiritual adviser.  I hope these young men and women really heard these last word of Pope Francis' because they are every bit as important as toning down the consumer choices.  

In any event, based on the writing of Dr Zoom, even those with a vocation to critique all those consumer choices are hearing the voice of Pope Francis.  That's certainly novel.  


  1. Novel, yes but I believe too little, too late!

  2. From what I have read in this blog for years and years is the consistent view that the seminaries were corrupted with religious leaders who sexually abused the seminarians. Now you say you love this last sentence by Pope Francis.

    `'If you find a seminarian, priest, nun, with a long, sad face, if it seems as if in their life someone threw a wet blanket over them,'' then one should conclude `'it's a psychiatric problem, they can leave - `buenos dias’”.

    Perhaps those who are heads of the seminaries are creating the long, sad faces & they too have a long, sad face and that is who the Pope is referring to? Are not the long, sad faces due to their teachings and misteachings? To say "they can leave" is a familiar saying from other Church leaders and members to those they do not approve of. It seems to me that this is the same sort of rough and tough attitude. And that is not to say that some with the long, sad faces might not need a psychologist or a psychiatrist.

    Otherwise, I can agree that buying the most expensive items and flashy cars for religious is not bad advice. I drive a ten years old car and if and when I do need another car it will be a used car because new cars are just way too expensive.

  3. I should probably clarify that the 'buenas dias' at the end was Pope Francis ending his talk and saying good by to the crowd. I probably should have edited that out.

    I think Francis' point is more a long the lines of your comment. If the teachings make for sad faces it's time to re evaluate one's vocation. Joy should be the hallmark of a true follower of Jesus. Long sad faces probably mean one is not actually getting the teachings of Jesus. Something is in the way and too many times, that was the domination and abuse in the seminaries.

  4. Brook's has me intrigued enough to want to muddle through Charles Taylor's book. I couldn't help but notice though that Brooks does not use sex specific pronouns except in one place. It was jarring, and I'm not sure if he's quoting Taylor or threw this bump in himself because he was trying to make another point:

    "But, Taylor continues, these achievements also led to more morally
    demanding lives for everybody, believer and nonbeliever. Instead of just
    fitting docilely into a place in the cosmos, the good person in secular
    society is called upon to construct a life in the universe. She’s
    called on to exercise all her strength."

  5. Oh, I see. Thanks for the clarification here on the 'buenas dias' thingy, (lol) I hope that Pope Francis will clean up the domination and abuse in the seminaries. And I hope those who have suffered will get the help that they need.

    It is sort of funny that just recently, within the last week, I started singing 'Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz.' I don't know why. It just came to me. There has been way too much synchronisity going on!!

  6. Showing off so called " humility" is not being humble, it's actually PRIDE. Jesus didn't go around showing off : "look how humble I am, I ride a donkey and not a jaguar !!! "