Friday, April 01, 2005

Many Thoughts

First, I know I said I'd continue my thoughts and reflections on Easter, and I do intend to do so (hey, it's the Easter season until Pentecost - I have time), but this has been a weird week, and I've had problems with my monitor, so I just haven't been able to write. And I'm not writing about that tonight (at least not right now), so you'll just have to be in suspense for a while. Yeah, I know you're holding your breath in anticipation.


First the Pope.

I have been praying for weeks that God would just take him and let the poor man rest. John Paul is a savvy man. He knew that things would be difficult for the Church if he stepped down. Since he would retain his title, Catholics would effectively have two popes, which could cause even more division in a church whose very name means universal. He would never have stepped down not because of his ego, but for the sake of unity. He's served God well for over 50 years as a priest. He deserves the peace being in the presence of God will bring.

Nevertheless, I feel vaguely guilty about that wish.

Like many moderate to liberal Catholics (or former Catholics), I have had a bit of a love...dislike relationship with John Paul. I can't deny that he has been perhaps the most pastoral of the pontiffs of my lifetime and just before (thought John XXIII could maybe give him a run for his money in some respects). He truly loved being among his people, from the highest ranking politicians to the lowest street person. His concern for all life is deep, profound, and sincere. I have especially admired the commitment he has made to young people over the course of his papacy. He truly loved being with them, and it showed in every image of him with children. I think to the most recent image of him with several small children and the doves (I just don't feel like looking for it to link, but I think you all probably know what I'm talking about). As sick and frail as he was, he looked years younger just being in their presence.

John Paul did much to bring the church into the modern era. He was by far the most media savvy leader the church has ever seen (not surprising since at least one of his degrees was in communications). He has been more open with reporters than any other pontiff, and has used technology to communicate with the faithful like never before.

He was also the most politically minded Pope in the modern (post-Reformation) era. Many people credit him for being the main impetus for the fall of Communism in eastern Europe. He could talk to leaders with respect, and even influence the most hard-headed and -hearted of them to come closer to his point of view. He made remarkable inroads in relations with other denominations and other faiths, even going so far as to develop a joint declaration on justification with the orginal Protestant church.

Yet he was also a man who stubbornly held to outdated doctrine and policy despite the clear need for change. We have seen an incredible shortage of priests arise in this and most othe western countries, yet he wouldn't even consider the possibility of ordaining married men, let alone women. He has acknowledged the importance of the laity in the ministry of the church, but has done very little to further their participation. And he holds an almost reactionary positon on the role of women not only in the church, but in society as well.

He was a man who continued his predecessors policy of pretending abuse within the church didn't exist. Granted, he was already frail when everything broke in Boston, but he wasn't when the bishop of Pittsburgh was told to reinstate several priests he removed from ministry due to credible allegations of abuse. He wasn't when other allegations surfaced earlier in his papacy. And he never disciplined the bishops who turned a blind eye to the allegations.

Still and all, though, I think I will always have a special connection to this pope. I remember his election clearly, and I remember learning about the black smoke and white smoke in...I think it was second grade. It's funny, but I don't remember that at all with his predecessor, despite the fact that it was only a few months earlier.

I remember when he was shot for an odd reason. It was my 10th birthday. Classes were cancelled that afternoon, and we all gathered around the two small TV's we had in my school to watch the coverage (grades 1-4 were together, and grades 5-8 were together). I remember that my mom brought cookies and Little Hugs (a juice-type drink in little containers shaped like barrels - a predecessor to the juice box) for a treat for my birthday, and despite the gravity of the situation, my teacher let my class have them just before dismissal.

I remember when he came to Denver for World Youth Day and St. Louis for something youth-related. I remember watching him pray at the Wailing Wall. I remember him meeting with, praying with, and forgiving the man who shot him.

I may not always (or even often) agree with what he has said. I may not be a practicing Catholic anymore (I'm about 75% sure on that - when I finally write about Easter I'll explain). But I suppose that there is no question of the fact that I respect John Paul a a committed servant of the Lord. I hope when the end finally comes, it is peaceful and painless.


I had orientation for my job this week, and I came to a realization. I would rather hold a job that I'm not crazy about at a company I can respect than a job I love at a company that I don't.

The owner and founder of the company was the final speaker of the day, and he spoke for about an hour and a half. It didn't seem like that. He told the story of the hard times, when the company was in so much trouble that they literally didn't have enough money to declare bankruptcy, and he was afraid to pick up the phone out of fear that there was a creditor on the other end. But he persevered, and today the company is the most respected home health care company in the country and is the current darling of Wall Street.

I respect his perseverance alone, but the thing that I really respect is the fact that he accomplished this by doing the right thing for the right reason. He never compromised on patient care, and he never tried to cheat or manipulate the government. He has always respected and valued his employees. He invests in his people, and he expects his people to invest in their patients, the company, and themselves.

If you are interested in reading the whole story, leave me a comment and I'll send you a link to an article about him in Forbes. It's a story well worth reading.


I was going to write about on other thing, but I'm really tired now. I'm not making any promises about when I'll write next. I never keep them anyway. {SIGH}

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