24 November 2013
Out of the mouths… Jeannie is neither babe nor suckling, but when asked what the Year of Faith had meant to her she said:
“I’ve been so excited by the Catechism, I’m bursting with it!”
This is a young woman who told me a year ago she read nothing but horror comics, and still dresses Goth style. Jeannie is about 30, severely disabled, with no education to speak of and a personal life to make you stretch your eyes. In other words (and in one’s arrogance), the last person you would expect to have fallen upon the Catechism like a wolf on its prey. Hers was precisely the reaction Pope Benedict intended and hoped for.
We don’t know how many others have been struck as Jeannie has been, but I daresay someone will do the stats. Back in March I wrote of my own reaction, and as the Year draws to a close today on the Feast of Christ the King, I can only echo Jeannie – but perhaps in more measured terms.
Did you have four small booklets, Doorway to Faith, to help you through the Year? Ours were prepared in the neighbouring diocese and without them it would have been well-nigh impossible to persist: dipping and browsing “the interesting bits” would have been a sore temptation. The readings every day required time, method and concentration; I wish now I had made notes.
Pope Benedict intended the year to be a twelve month opportunity to get closer to Christ – and, as a reminder that the Year started on the 50th anniversary of the second Vatican Council, “to put fresh wind in our sails”.
The Feast of Christ the King was instituted by Pope Pius XI in 1925 to “bring mankind to the peace of Christ, universal King”. It’s one of those feasts that make non-Catholics wrinkle their noses, it smacks of Rome – naturally.
My own beloved father recoiled in disbelief when asked to pay for several tickets to a Ball in honour of Christ the King. He made an expression as of one who has now heard everything. As a stiff-necked convert I try to embrace wholly all the Feasts of the Church and some are easier than others, but what could be more needful than peace to all mankind?
Let us not leave Jeannie bursting with enthusiasm. She has a partner who shall remain nameless, a Catholic who has lapsed so far beneath the radar you can hardly see him – except he’s at least 6′ 6” tall and almost as wide. Yet he bought Jeannie all the leaflets about Pope Benedict he could find; including his prayers and a book. He brings her to Mass faithfully of a Sunday, and sits outside the church drinking tea until it’s time to take her home.
Perhaps he’s a tormented man looking for the peace of this wonderful Feast?
There have been many quotes to choose from during the Year of Faith. One of my personal favorites is from St. Augustine, connected to the ever-present attraction of sin:
“The rivers of time sweep on, but there, like a tree planted in the water, is Our Lord Jesus Christ. He became man, willing to plant himself beside the river of time. If you feel yourself drifting down to the rapids, lay hold of the tree; and if you are caught up in the love of the world, hold on to Christ.”
My Catechism, all 691 pages of it, will shortly resume its place on the bottom shelf of the bookcase. But now I know it’s there and have a rough idea of what’s to be found in it, so thank you Pope Benedict from me – and from Jeannie.