Grief is such a weird thing. Yesterday was the first day I felt a little bit normal following my Dad’s Dec. 11 death, but today I started sobbing when I called to make a manicure appointment in Raleigh. The receptionist was eager to fit me in because she’d already heard of my father’s death and I started to choke up when I said I wanted to make sure my nails looked pretty when I delivered Dad’s eulogy on Saturday. I felt like an idiot. But I remember from my mom’s death that there is nothing linear about this process. Six years later, I can hear a song and I’ll well up about my mom and I’m sure I’ve only begun to shed the tears I will cry over my dad.
One of the things my dad and I talked about a fair amount over the last several months was Pope Francis. We aren’t Catholic, but like so many people, we have been spellbound by him. Dad and I discussed when he washed the women’s feet during Holy Week-- two female prisoners’ feet to be exact-- and more recently when the Pope let the orphan hug him and sit in his chair during a speech, as well as when the Pope blessed the man with tumors all over his head.
Add to that his declarations that the Catholic Church should not sit in judgment of homosexuals, but he’s perfectly fine with the Catholic Church criticizing those who cling to their ideology over truth, as well as declaring that the trickle-down theory of economics doesn’t work and that we must take better care of the poor.
He has embraced the disenfranchised in a way that I’ve never witnessed by a Pope in my lifetime and my Dad and I were both fascinated by him.
I know that he’s the head of a big corporation and I really wish he would be even more radical by allowing women to be ordained as priests and permit priests to marry, but neither Rome, nor the Vatican, was built in a day. A lot of folks have called his actions window dressing-- and maybe they are-- but they don’t feel like that to me. He’s saying enough things that are pissing off enough people in high places that I don’t think this is some PR stunt. And if it is, then I’m totally falling for it. Some members of The Catholic Church have committed such atrocities, while others looked the other way, that the Church was in desperate need of someone that could make people believe again and he’s it.
Today is Pope Francis’s 77th birthday. I so wish Dad were here for us to talk some more about him. My dad was amazing at keeping up on current events and I always enjoyed his perspective on things. It's one of the facets of him that I'll miss the most. We could have talked about how the Pope celebrated his birthday by having breakfast with four homeless men today.
This year, I have found myself giving to an inordinate number of Catholic-run charities as they seem to support social justice in a way that not all religions do so I had to search for one that I hadn’t already donated to. I found Catholic Relief Services, which is devoted to providing relief overseas by responding to emergencies and through fighting disease and poverty. It serves as the official humanitarian agency of the US Catholic community.
Dec. 17: Catholic Relief Services
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