Seven Quick New Year's Resolutions for Everyone Else

With school-age children, my year is an academic year and January 1 isn't a time for resolutions -- that was back in September. Out of the kindness of my heart, however, I offer a few New Year's resolutions for everyone else. If you could each observe them, it would improve my life immeasurably. Thanks!

1. Never say "hashtag" aloud again. Not even as a joke. It's over.

2. Stop saying Pope Francis lives in Domus Marta to avoid luxury (for reasons I explain here).

3. Don't accept the journalistic meme that Pope Benedict was hated. It's false. When he came into the papacy, the crowds at audiences grew even beyond what they had been for the immensely beloved John Paul the Great. True at the beginning of his papacy, true at the end. Just as happened with Pope John Paul II before him, journalists would TELL us the Pope was hated prior to an apostolic journey.  Then the Pope would arrive, people would experience him unfiltered, and he would melt everyone's heart with his goodness.  Here are some sample posts of mine from Benedict's 2008 visit to the U.S. or his visit to the UK (where he charmed people who were once hostile to him) or Cameroon & Angola  for example. The press was filled with stories of how people were jazzed about the Pope.

4. Don't accept the journalistic meme that Pope Benedict was cold and only cared about abstract principles. If you think that, you haven't read one word he ever said. His pontificate was about the joy of the experience of Jesus, and Pope Francis has picked up where he left off, not changed direction.

Remember the story about how Pope Francis welcomed the little boy without scolding him?  I loved that footage too. But just remember:

Not to mention:

With a child

Visiting children with terminal illnesses: "we may fall, but we fall into the arms of One who loves us."

Visiting an old folks' home: "I come to you as Bishop of Rome, but also as an old man visiting his peers."

 You can see the rigidity. And the lack of approachability. 

The head of the Roman Catholic Church told people who he shared the meal with that he is close to them and loves them, and called on everyone to always remember those in need and help them.
That particular appearance, incidentally was right after a mentally ill woman knocked him down at Mass -- meaning he was close enough to people to be vulnerable to them. He always refused in Rome to use the glassed-in Pope-mobile, wanting to be close to people. 

Every year Benedict visited prisons (here he visits hardened criminals and pleas for their dignity against inhumane conditions), including visiting his personal steward to forgive him for spying on him), old folks homes, the homeless, and hospitals for sick children. He had a tremendous heart for the poor and the elderly and the marginalized.  And for atheists! I guess everyone's forgotten his Court of the Gentiles initiative, his many speeches to atheists about their relationship with people of faith -- or the atheist Orianna Fallaci's words, "when I read the words of Ratzinger, I feel less alone."

5. Don't accept the journalistic meme that Benedict was unspontaneous, either. 

Like Francis after him, the first things Benedict did in office were to sneak home to his apartment, walk rather than taking the popemobile, and break into crowds to greet people. He continued to meet spontaneously with people throughout his papacy. Here are a few links from when he was in New York, for example -- where he met off-schedule with abuse victims, visited Ronald McDonald house, greeted people from his hotel,etc.

6.  Don't accept the journalistic meme that Francis is changing hearts or healing them where Benedict didn't. 

Everywhere he went he met with abuse victims and they reported healing from those meetings. Here's one example

Typical comment from the Pope's trip to Great Britain: 

My FIL went with us to the Mass in Glasgow and told me “I fell for him, today. I wasn’t really sure about him, but now I see that he’s a really good man, so humble and you can see he’s very shy and nice.”
Stories from others contemporaneous with that visit, including the story behind this, from a co-worker repentant of an ignorant opinion:

Indeed, at the start of his papacy, the Roman line about Benedict was that "John Paul II opened people's hearts and Benedict fills them."

7. My point in all this is not to detract an iota from Pope Francis, whom I love and am learning from. My point is that ALL good popes (and that's all there have been in any of our lifetimes) have a heart for the marginalized and do all they can to bring the Good News of Jesus Christ to everyone and to inspire professed Christians to live more like disciples of Jesus and less like people who happen to own the copyright on the scriptures and the Catechism. The power they have to touch other people's lives isn't even theirs as persons, it's part of the charism of Peter --the grace to encourage and confirm the brethren.

We think Pope Francis is doing never-before-done things because most of us, especially the secular press, pay no attention whatsoever to the Pope and what he does and what he teaches except in the first year after he is elected and there is novelty to him. Then we drop him until the next guy comes along and act shocked when he, too, turns out to be a Christian. Stop that, please.

See more Quick Takes at Jen's Place.