Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Musings

A few random thoughts and ponderings to start the week...

Well, I have no idea who will be the next pope, but I will make one prediction. I am certain we will have a new pontiff by the end of this week. From what I have read, the general consensus is that three days is about how long it will take for the election to conclude. The Cardinals have had some time to get to know one another, and if the process drags out to long it would make the new pope seem weak...like a compromise candidate...and that is not what the Church needs right now. As for who the Cardinals will elect - there are much wiser opinions than mine to consult.

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As talk of the conclave increased this past weekend, a non-Catholic (atheist) friend asked the following question:

Atheist: 
"If all the cardinals are listening to god tell them who the next pope should be, shouldn't it be a unanimous vote the first time, every time? 
My reply:
"No...The Cardinals will not necessarily select a pope on the first vote, because frankly people are imperfect listeners.God may 'speak' to them in subtle ways, and they may do their best to discern the will of God, but they still have free will and can be influenced by other sources. God does not use us as mindless tools to do his work - we must cooperate and sort out His will from our own desires.
Atheist: 
These are the CARDINALS. Shouldn't THEY, of all people, be able to get a name out of god? If they can't manage that simple feat, why does anyone bother praying?"
Reply: 
"I'm impressed that you think so highly of Cardinals...that you think they have a direct line to God. But they are people, just like you and me - flawed. However, I would point out that the Church has lasted for nearly 2000 years. It is the oldest continually operating institution in the world. It has outlasted countless nations, monarchs, governments, and other human institutions...and this despite the flawed character of Cardinals and Popes. God doesn't work the way you seem to imply (working against human will and forcing His way on the Church), He works despite human flaws and uses sinful, flawed individuals who cooperate in His work. That is a messy process. But it has worked for centuries. I have confidence it will work this time too. They don't get it on the first vote because they are not machines taking dictation from God. It is more of a conversation that unfolds over time. That's what prayer is...and that's why we bother doing it."
Atheist:
Where in the bible does it ever say that God mumbled to someone or was not clear in exactly what he wanted?
Reply:
First of all, who says that the Bible is the only source for our understanding of God? God acts and speaks in many ways. But if you are looking for a Biblical reference, I do have at least one in mind:
Kings chapter 19, beginning at verse 11. There we see that God makes Himself known in a still, small voice. It is easy to be confused or distracted by the bigger things of the world. It is easy to be wrapped up in those dramatic events or even confuse them with God. But God is most often found in more subtle ways, difficult to perceive. Or, in other words, sometimes God "mumbles."
See also 1 Samuel chapter 3. There God speaks to Samuel directly, and Samuel confuses the voice of God for someone else. So, according to the Bible, it is not always clear when God is speaking to us...even when the words are plainly spoken.
But like I said above, as Catholics we don't have to rely solely on the Bible for this knowledge.

Atheist:
Hmmm. I'll be damned.
Reply:
Yes... you probably will be. But there's still time to repent. lol ;)
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Remember to keep the Cardinal electors and the whole Church in your prayers as we await the announcement: Habemus Papam!

Almighty and ever living God,
we ask you to bestow your blessings
and wisdom upon our Cardinals
whose task it is to elect a new successor
to the Chair of Peter.
Illumine their minds and hearts
to elect a man who is strong in faith and morals.
A holy man.  A man who has a clear vision
of your Son Jesus Christ.
A man who will not break
under the pressures of the world
or those inside the Church who wish
for a Church that conforms to the world.
A man who with your guidance
will confront the challenges of the world
and those within the Church.
A man who will inspire the world to follow Christ
and who will cleanse the Church
of the filth that has entered it.
A man who will bring about unity among Christians.
Listen to our prayer which we make
in the name of Christ your son.
Amen

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