I have said on more than one occasion that I think Pope Francis is a mixed bag. He talks a lot about mercy and the reality of the Devil which is very good but tends to act like a local pastor ignoring that he is the head of the entire church which is very bad. I think he, like most Popes, has been mediocre.
Since we had a canonized saint as Pope (John Paul II) for over a quarter of a century it’s natural that Francis would pale in comparison but there are real reasons to critique the way this Pope has handled things from China and the underground church to the Dubia which has still remained unanswered after over 550 days. It is entirely proper to critique these failures, nevertheless he is still the Pope the head of the church until God wills that he is not.
There is always the danger that such a critique progresses to the point of considering the Holy Father our enemy ( which ironically would require us per the non-optional doctrine of the church, to love him and to pray for him) and causes us to embrace that first of the deadly sins, pride which Christ warned us of.
“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity – greedy, dishonest, adulterous – or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’
But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’
I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
And we can we can be sure that if our zeal takes us there our foe the Devil will be at our shoulder trying to tempt us in just that direction.
So what are we to do if we want to do something yet want to avoid crossing the line that our true enemy wants us to? Fortunately as Catholics there is simple answer.
Prayer and Fasting.
I propose a three-day period of Prayer for the Pope, the Church and ourselves, where we implore God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit to bless, the entire Universal Church on earth.
For these three days I propose the following prayers:
Starting the day with an Our Father in the morning asking God the father to provide for the basic needs of the Church.
At midday A Divine Mercy Chaplet in the Afternoon to implore God mercy for the church through the sacrifice of God the Son.
Ending the Day with the Come Holy Spirit asking the God the Holy Spirit to envelop the entire church with the Spirit of discipleship.
For these three days I further propose a fast of varying degrees depending on one’s circumstances.
Abstaining from meat (full disclosure I already abstain on Wednesdays)
An Ash Wednesday like fast
A complete fast.
One could choose any of these or to progress from one to the next each day.
I further propose to begin this on May 8th the Feast of Apparition of St. Michael the defender of the church and end May 10th a feast day for Martyrs (Saints Gordian and Epimachus) High Churchmen ( St. Comgall, Abbot St. Cataldus Bishop, St. Antoninus, Archbishop) and ordinary people (St. Isidore) thus representing both the heavenly nature of such a prayer and the earthly span of the church from high to low.
If we want to banish the demons that plague the church and ourselves this is the way to do it, after all this is exactly what Christ suggested :
Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you. But this kind does not come out except by prayer and fasting“.
That’s good enough for me.