Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Fr. G. Peter Irving III

3/16/2013 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

We should ask the Lord to pour into our hearts a deep and abiding love for the Holy Father, whoever he may be, whether Benedict or Francis or whoever.

Habemus papam! We have a pope and this is truly a gaudium magnum, a great joy! Not everyone, however, is rejoicing as heartily as they should. Just as there was division over Jesus 2000 years ago, there is division over this new Vicar of Christ on earth.


By Fr. G. Peter Irving III

Catholic Online (

3/16/2013 (3 years ago)

Published in Year of Faith

Keywords: Fr. G. Peter Irving III, Holy Innocents Long Beach, Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, papacy, Franciscan spirituality, liturgy, reform of the reform

LONG BEACH, CA (Catholic Online) - The people in today's Gospel are divided over Jesus. They're not sure what to make of him. Some say he is the promised Moses-like prophet who is to come. Others are convinced he is Israel's long awaited Messiah and King. Still others are thoroughly skeptical. He cannot be the Messiah, they argue. He's from Nazareth. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem and he will be a descendent of David. They want to arrest him but they are fearful of the admiring crowds.
In their rejection of Jesus, this latter group is obviously wrong but for the right reasons. It is true the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). It is true that he will be of the line of King David. However, they didn't bother to find out if in fact Jesus of Nazareth fits the bill, which of course he eminently does, having been born in Bethlehem and being of the house of David. Rather, they choose to remain ignorant of the facts and as a result, they reject him out of hand.

Since Wednesday the world has been abuzz with the stunning announcement of the election of the first pope from the "New World." And that is not the only "first." The 266th Roman Pontiff is also the first Latino pope (although he is the son of Italian immigrants), the first Argentinian pope, the first Jesuit pope and the first pope to take the name Francis. The announcement that the Cardinal electors had chosen Cardinal Josė Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires to succeed Benedict XVI took everyone by surprise, even the so-called Vaticanologists!

But, habemus papam! We have a pope and this is truly a gaudium magnum, a great joy! Not everyone, however, is rejoicing as heartily as they should. Just as there was division over Jesus 2000 years ago, there is division over this new Vicar of Christ on earth.

What do I mean?

Those dippy people who were hoping that the next pope would somehow cancel out 2000 years of Church teaching on all the so-called hot button issues of abortion, contraception, same sex marriage (sic), women's ordination (sic) and the like, are obviously displeased with the new pope.

When people asked me who I thought would succeed Benedict XVI, I simply said, "He will be Catholic!" The fact that Pope Francis is Catholic is a disappointment to these confused and unfortunate souls. The changes in Church teaching they were hoping for will never materialize.

Then there are those who are concerned about the new pope's "style," for lack of a better term. These are the people who pay close attention to what the pope wears. It is true that Pope Francis departed from established protocol at his first appearance on the loggia overlooking St. Peter's square.

Pope Francis was not clad in the usual "choir dress" that popes wear. Instead, he wore the simple white cassock (the "house dress" of the pope) and eschewed the "rochet" or surplice and the familiar shoulder length, red silk "mozetta." He didn't even wear the elaborately embroidered papal stole until it was placed over his shoulders for the urbi et orbi blessing.

These omissions are for some the equivalent of an ecclesiastical "wardrobe malfunction" and are seen as perhaps signaling a troubling break with tradition. I understand these concerns but I do not think we should make too much of them. This is, after all, the pope who took the name of the "poor man of Assisi" who lived a life of poverty and simplicity. I do not think we should be troubled by the Franciscan tone of the papacy of Papa Francesco. On the contrary, we should all be edified.

There are other concerns, perhaps more serious ones, concerning the liturgy. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI in the eight years of his pontificate did so much to emphasize faithfulness to the liturgical norms and the importance of beauty in carrying out the Church's liturgical rites. For this we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to our beloved German pope.

Some fear that our new Holy Father will undo these achievements made by Benedict and move toward a more simplistic approach to the liturgy. In this regard, Pope Francis' installation Mass on Tuesday, the Solemnity of St. Joseph, will be telling.

In the meantime, I would make the following points.

First, it is unwise and even unjust to make comparisons between the personalities as well as the liturgical proclivities of Benedict and Francis. They are very different men who come from very different backgrounds and cultures. They are both, needless to say, Catholic!

Second, while the Apostolic See is solely responsible for the regulation of the Sacred Liturgy, we should not expect that Pope Francis will issue new decrees that will substantively change the Church's liturgical norms or revoke any of the "Benedictine" reforms (e.g., Summorum Pontificum).

Third, Pope Francis has repeatedly spoken of his high regard for his predecessor and is undoubtedly appreciative of the impressive legacy of the papacy of Pope Benedict XVI.

Fourth, our new pope has taken St. Francis for his inspiration in large part because of the Poverello's great love for the poor. But let us not forget that St. Francis, although never ordained a priest, made sure that no effort was spared in providing the very best for the offering of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and in the handling of the Eucharistic species.

His biographer, Thomas Celano, wrote:

"[St. Francis] wished at one time to send his brothers through the world with precious pyxes, so that wherever they should see the price of our redemption kept in an unbecoming manner, they should place It in the very best place."

One who follows in the footsteps of St. Francis imitates Jesus in his poverty and becomes a servant of Christ in the poor. At the same time, a true Franciscan, like St. Francis himself, would never treat the Eucharistic Lord in a manner which is poor and shabby.

Finally, it is inevitable that Pope Francis will put his own stamp on his pontificate. This is to be expected. But whatever that stamp or style or tone, he is the pope, the Successor of St. Peter and the Vicar of Christ on earth. He deserves our utmost respect, our filial love and our constant prayers. How beautiful was his gesture there on the loggia when he introduced himself to the world and asked for the prayers of the faithful, bowing low as they prayed in silence for him?

St. Catherine of Siena would often say that the pope is "the sweet Christ on earth." That is how we should see him and love him and obey him.

We should ask the Lord to pour into our hearts a deep and abiding love for the Holy Father, whoever he may be, whether Benedict or Francis or whoever.

St. Josemaria Escriva once wrote: "For me, in the hierarchy of love, the Pope comes right after the Most Holy Trinity and our Mother the Virgin." (Conversations, 46)

Let us ask Our Lady, Mother of the Church, to intercede for our new Holy Father, Pope Francis, that his pontificate will be one which brings about an authentic renewal of the Church and draw many souls into a deeper union with Jesus the Lord!

Fr. G. Peter Irving III is a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Pastor of Holy Innocents Church, Long Beach, California.


'Help give every student and teacher Free resources for a world-class moral Catholic education'

Copyright 2017 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for DECEMBER 2016
End to Child-Soldiers: That the scandal of child-soldiers may be eliminated the world over.
Evangelization: Europe: That the peoples of Europe may rediscover the beauty, goodness, and truth of the Gospel which gives joy and hope to life.


More Year of Faith

The Happy Priest on the Baptism of the Lord and our own Baptism Watch

Image of

By Fr. James Farfaglia

The consideration of Jesus' baptism, gives us an opportunity to remember our own baptism.  If you do not know the date of your own baptism, it is a good idea to go through your personal files and find out when it occurred.  CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic ... continue reading

Regret of Judas or Repentance of Peter?

Image of

By Fr Samuel Medley, SOLT

I gave my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who plucked my beard; My face I did not shield from buffets and spitting. HYTHE, KENT, UK (Catholic Online) - I didn't steal any cookies mommy! says a little boy whose mother asked him if he was hungry, wiping the ... continue reading

Pentecost: St Cyril of Jerusalem on The Living Water of the Holy Spirit Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online

The Spirit makes one man a teacher of divine truth, inspires another to prophesy, gives another the power of casting out devils, enables another to interpret holy Scripture. The Spirit strengthens one man's self-control, shows another how to help the poor, teaches ... continue reading

The Wedding Invitation of Jesus: We are Called to Live the Nuptial Mystery Watch

Image of There will be no giving or taking in marriage in the kingdom to come because the very purpose and meaning of marriage itself will be fulfilled. (See, e.g. Mk. 12:18-27) We will be living in the fullness of the Communion of Love with the Trinity. The symbol will give way to the eternal reality, the Sacrament will be fulfilled in the fullness of communion. All of human love will be completed in the Love which lasts forever.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

It is not accidental that the Bible, from beginning to the end, uses marriage as a metaphor and a symbol to reveal the plan of God for the whole human race.  Marriage was God's plan from the beginning as we see in the first book of Genesis. Throughout the Old ... continue reading

The Sower. The Seed. The Field. Understanding the Christian Mission Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

"A sower went out to sow. And, as he sowed, some seed fell on the path, and birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky ground, where it had little soil. It sprang up at once because the soil was not deep, and when the sun rose it was scorched, and it withered for ... continue reading

Reflection on the Catholic Catechism: Understanding the Bible Watch

Image of

By Michael Terheyden

How we interpret the Bible is of immense importance! It directly affects what we believe about Christ, the Church, and our faith, but it is also related to many of the grave problems in our society and the world. Yet, despite the gravity of this situation, we have good ... continue reading

Christ the King, the Year of Faith and the Catholic Counterculture Watch

Image of On this Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Year of Faith inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI comes to a ceremonial end. However, in reality, it cannot and will not end, because Jesus Christ is King! The Year of Faith was only the beginning for those who choose to live the Life of Faith.

By Deacon Keith Fournier

We celebrate the Feast of Christ the King. It is one of many opportunities the Catholic Church year offers to each one of us to consider the creature called time, receive it as a gift, and begin to really live our lives differently.  This is one of ... continue reading

The Bones of Peter, the Successor of Peter: Close of the Year of Faith Watch

Image of The bones of St. Peter the Apostle

By Deacon Keith Fournier

On the Solemnity of the Feast of Christ the King, the Sunday which marks both the end of the Church Year and the end of the Year of Faith, inaugurated by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, Pope Francis greeted thousands of the faithful and presided over Holy Mass and the ... continue reading

Fr Randy Sly on Becoming a House of Prayer Watch

Image of Jesus drives the money changers from the temple. 

With hearts clear and focused on our Lord, we can follow the advice of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, Everything starts with prayer. Love to pray--feel the need to pray often during the day and take the trouble to pray. If you want to pray better, you must pray more. The more you pray, the easier it becomes. Perfect prayer does not consist of many words but in the fervor of the desire which raises the heart to Jesus. (Fr. Randy Sly)

By Father Randy Sly

Becoming a House of Prayer is the best discipline we can take on. St. Ephraem of Syria states that Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy ... continue reading

Jesus Weeps and Offers the Path to Peace Watch

Image of

By Deacon Keith Fournier

If this day you only knew what makes for peace- but now it is hidden from your eyes. For the days are coming upon you when your enemies will raise a palisade against you; they will encircle you and hem you in on all sides. They will smash you to the ground and your ... continue reading

All Year of Faith News


Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 8:6-13
6 As it is, he has been given a ministry as far superior as is the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 85:8, 10, 11-12, 13-14
8 I am listening. What is God's message? Yahweh's message is peace for ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:13-19
13 He now went up onto the mountain and summoned those he wanted. So they ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 20th, 2017 Image

St. Fabian
January 20: Eusebius, born just a few years after Fabian's ... Read More