07 November 2014

Prayer for Pope Francis

In the conclave that began on 12 March 2013, I had two hopes for the future papacy. I hoped that our future pope would be very Marian and I hoped that he would be very Franciscan. Although I believed these hopes were important for a number of reasons, there were two reasons that were of particular importance as I believe much of all the others would flow from them. I hope for the solemn papal definition of the Fifth Marian Dogma of Our Lady as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate. I also hope for the canonization of Blessed John Duns Scotus.

The day before that conclave, in which the non-cardinal officials, support staff, and other non-voting personnel who had duties during the conclave took the oath of secrecy as prescribed in Universi Dominici Gregis as modified by Normas Nonnullas, I was joined by a number of persons in praying a novena. This novena was to Blessed John Duns Scotus for my intention as I had cancer at the time. My actual intention was, “Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum.” (see Luke 1:38) The beginning of this novena was the 20th anniversary of my entrance into the Catholic Church, which I had the honour of sharing the day with Dr. Alice von Hildebrand’s 90th birthday, who joined me in this novena. The day at the conclusion of this novena, 20 March 2013, was the 20th anniversary of the beatification of Blessed John Duns Scotus.

If you don’t know who Blessed John Duns Scotus is, now is a good time to find out as tomorrow is his feast day. Although you’ll be hard pressed to find a Mass celebrated in his honour, I hope that will soon change. He was born in the 13th century, around 3 years before the great Dominican theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor Angelicus (Angelic Doctor), died. (Today happens to be the Feast of All Saints of the Dominican Order.) Blessed John became a great Franciscan theologian and given the accolade Doctor Subtilis (Subtle Doctor). He was the first to defend successfully the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary, which eventually led to the declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception on 8 December 1854 by Pope Pius IX (another Franciscan, although a secular like me).

The election of Pope Francis two days later, which happened to be the baptismal anniversary of one of my daughters (her birthday is also on the original feast day celebrating the conception of Our Lady), seemed to fulfil both of my hopes. Raymond Cardinal Burke even confirmed my conclusion in a reply to a letter I sent him just before the conclave: “With regard to the hope you expressed in your letter that the new Holy Father will be both Marian and Franciscan, the chosen name of His Holiness Pope Francis and his pilgrimage to the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on the first day of his Pontificate seem to indicate that our new Holy Father is indeed both Marian and Franciscan.” I even suggested what this may mean in a small speech I gave a couple of months later (you may notice I am not ill in this video).

Over the follow year and a half, I did hear a great deal of negative things about Pope Francis. There are even some who make the illogical suggestion that he is an anti-pope and that Pope Benedict is the real pope who is being held captive in the Vatican. Although some of Pope Francis’ statement are ambiguous and his actions may seem confusing, everything he says can be interpreted in an orthodox way and we are not privy to the thoughts behind his actions. I’ve even explained how some of the aspects of the “anti-pope” suggestion would be heretical due to the Dogma of Papal Infallibility (note the word aspects).

Nonetheless, with the recent the Extraordinary Synod on the Family and some key appointment changes, particularly that of Cardinal Burke, my faith began to waver. I began to realize that the papacy is in a very unique situation right now with a corbinian backup (if you don’t get the reference, look up Saint Corbinian's Bear). Of course, I realize the possibility is quite improbable, but it is a possibility that no one has an answer for and only time will tell. Regardless of this possibility, the “anti-pope” suggestion remains quite ignorant and stupid (and even heretical in some aspects).

Although my faith has wavered a bit in Pope Francis, my faith in the papacy has not (although I may have a more, shall we say, Orthodox interpretation of the papacy than many Roman Catohlics).  Nor have I ever considered that the Catholic Church could ever changing Her unchanging teachings and stop being the catholic Church. Not only this, with more recent statements by Pope Francis and also Cardinal Burke, my original optimism is being renewed.

Some say Vatican II did away with Marian devotion. Do you know what Pope Blessed Paul VI did at the close of Vatican II? He declared Mary as the Mother of the Church. What did Pope Francis do at the end of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family? He beatified Pope Blessed Paul VI.

I see the beatification of Pope Blessed Paul VI at the end of this particular synod quite significant, especially since Pope Saint John Paul II was just canonized this last April 27th. Pope Paul VI was in a very similar situation to what Pope Francis is now in. Do you know what he did? On 25 July 1968, rejecting the majority opinion, Pope Blessed Paul VI issued his encyclical Humanae Vitae defending the unchanging teachings of the catholic Church regarding the intrinsic evil of deliberate contraceptive acts. (You do realize this unchanging teaching is in regard to the sacramentally of marriage, don’t you?)

Wouldn’t it be wonderfully amazing if after Pope Francis defends the unchanging teachings of the catholic Church on marriage next October at the larger synod on the same topic, he concludes the synod by issuing a declaration defining the Dogma of Mary as Co-Redemptrix, Mediatrix of All Graces, and Advocate? October 13th or November 8th would be great dates for such an declaration.

I have a suggestion for tomorrow (you can even do it today and continue to do it everyday), let us pray the following prayer for the intentions of Pope Francis, that his intentions may be the Will of God, and that he be made a saint.

Prayer for the Canonization of Blessed John Duns Scotus

O Most High, Almighty and gracious Lord,
Who exalts the humble and confounds the proud of heart,
grant us the great joy of seeing Blessed John Duns Scotus canonized.

He honoured Your Son with the most sublime praises;
he was the first to defend successfully
the Immaculate Conception of the Virgin Mary;
he lived in heroic obedience to the Holy Father,
to the Church and to the Seraphic Order.

O Most Holy Father, God of infinite love,
hear, we beseech You, our humble prayer,
through the merits of Your Only-Begotten Son and of His Mother,
Coredemptrix and Spouse of the Holy Spirit.