What Did St. Francis Really Say? – 3

Now that we have a Pope named Francis, and all sorts of people are making references to St. Francis of Assisi in an attempt to pigeonhole this new Pope, we should consider who Francis of Assisi really was, what he did and said.  He wasn’t the bunny-hugging bird kisser that people think he was from their viewings of garden statues and Brother Sun, Sister Moon.  (Remember that?)

St. Francis of Assisi, some think, was a medieval peacenik.  However, Francis went to the Egypt and confronted Sultan al-Kamil, a nephew of Saladin. Here is the account of his words from “Verba fratris Illuminati socii b. Francisci ad partes Orientis et in conspectu Soldani Aegypti“, Codex Vaticanus Ott.lat.n.552:

The same sultan submitted this problem to him: “Your Lord taught in his gospels that evil must not be repaid with evil, that you should not refuse your cloak to anyone who wants to take your tunic, etc. (Mt 5,40): All the more Christians should not invade our land!”. And Blessed Francis answered: ”It seems to me that you have not read the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in its entirety. In fact it says elsewhere: “if your eye causes you sin, tear it out and throw it away” (Mt 5 , 29). With this, Jesus wanted to teach us that if any person, even a friend or a relative of ours, and even if he is dear to us as the apple of our eye, we should be willing to repulse him, to weed him out if he sought to take us away from the faith and love of our God. This is precisely why Christians are acting according to justice when they invade the lands you inhabit and fight against you, for you blaspheme the name of Christ and strive to turn away from his worship as many people as you can. But if you were to recognize, confess, and worship the Creator and Redeemer, Christians would love you as themselves instead”.”

Think of this the next time you are called upon to sing that ditty that starts with: “Make me a channel of your peace”.  From the fine Francis of Assisi: A New Biography by Augustine Thompson.

“Peace Prayer of Saint Francis”—a popular hymn best known by its opening words “Make me a channel of your peace,” and sung to a tune written by the Anglican composer Sebastian Temple. Many are quite shocked to find that this song is not identical to Francis’s “Canticle of Brother Sun,” from which Zefferelli took the name of his movie. The “Peace Prayer” is modern and anonymous, originally written in French, and dates to about 1912, when it was published in a minor French spiritual magazine, La Clochette. Noble as its sentiments are, Francis would not have written such a piece, focused as it is on the self, with its constant repetition of the pronouns “I” and “me,” the words “God” and “Jesus” never appearing once.

 

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50 Responses to What Did St. Francis Really Say? – 3

  1. feargalmac says:

    Thanks Fr Z. My education is never-ending.

  2. Allan S. says:

    Chesterton wrote a good bio of St. Francis as well, and it’s often available in eBook or free online. Worth a read, like everything he wrote.

  3. jacobi says:

    In the last fifty post-Vatican II years, the Catholic Church has suffered a major crisis, the symptoms being abandonment of leadership by bishops, a distortion of the concepts of Priesthood and the Sacraments, a confusing liturgy and a widespread ignorance, by the Priesthood and laity alike, of the sacred and unchanging truths of the Church.
    This was so on the 28th February 2013, when Pope Benedict XVI resigned, and today we are but eighteen days further into that crisis.

    There is at present frenzied speculation about the direction in which Pope Francis will lead the Church and what his chosen name signifies.

    But until this crisis is first sorted out, then fruitless chaos will continue.

  4. Mary T says:

    I saw the original of the beautiful color picture on the cover of this book. It is in Subiaco and is thought to be the only contemporary portrait of Francis, drawn from life.

    Most educated Catholics know about Francis and the Sultan, that Francis was an obedient Catholic and not a rebel, etc. But for years I have been telling people that he did NOT write the “make me an Instrument of your peace….where there is hatred let me sow love” etc. etc. prayer. Few believe me. I am glad we now have an easily available scholarly resource that says the same. The truth about St. Francis is beautiful enough without making stuff up.

  5. TLM says:

    I appreciate the good information about what St. Francis of Assisi really said and did. Starting the day with your blog and a cup of Mystic Monk coffee is better than any newspaper.

  6. Kypapist says:

    Thanks for the information about the prayer. I have always disliked the prayer (and the song) but always felt mildly guilty. I am greatly relieved that St. Francis will not think I am “dissing” him.

  7. The Masked Chicken says:

    Of course, the more interesting question is how the, “Peace Prayer,” got associated with St. Francis.

    The Chicken

  8. The Masked Chicken says:

    Here is a link to an article that explains the, “Peace Prayer,” history.

    http://www.franciscan-archive.org/franciscana/peace.html

    It was known in Catholic circles, including the Vatican, as early as 1916, so the prayer, itself, has ecclesiastical approbations. It just doesn’t original with St. Francis. It also has a unique understanding of the word, peace, which seems to conflict with Christ’s words of Matt 10: 34-42:

    “34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; 36 and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. 37 He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; 38 and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40 “He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41 He who receives a prophet because he is a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward, and he who receives a righteous man because he is a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. 42 And whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward.”

    More often than not, this Prayer has been associated with liberal movements, who seem to confuse peace – the absence of conflict, with Peace – that tranquility that flows from God’s right order. The two definitions do not have to contradict, but the former pre-supposes the later.

    The Chicken

    The Chicken

  9. shin says:

    ‘Those who will not taste how sweet is the Lord, and who love darkness rather than light, being unwilling to fulfill the law of God, are cursed; for the prophet, speaking of them, says: “Cursed are they that decline from Thy commandments.” But, on the contrary, how blessed and happy are they who adore Him (as they ought) in spirit and in truth. Let us praise and beseech Him day and night, saying: “Our Father, Who art in heaven,” etc., for we ought always to pray, and not to faint.’

    St. Francis of Assisi

  10. StWinefride says:

    Father Z says: Brother Sun, Sister Moon. (Remember that?)

    Thankfully, there was a better version, imho, shown on Italian Television in 2007 and available on DVD called Chiara e Francesco. Directed by Fabrizio Costa it featured Ettore Bassi and Mary Petruolo in the lead roles. It was well done and fairly accurate.

  11. Sister H. says:

    I posted this on another thread, but I think it got lost in the midst of the argument!

    Check it out…you may have to scroll up just a bit.

    This cartoon provides a perfect look at the fluffy make-believe St . Francis who is a figment of people’s imaginations and the REAL St. Francis who calls us to so much more:

    http://swordofpeter.blogspot.com/2012/01/st-francis-true-story.html#comment-form

  12. mamajen says:

    “Bunny-hugging bird kisser” LOL!

    I’ll admit that the stories about Francis’ affinity for animals always captured my interest because I love animals myself, but one does not need to be a wimp in order to be an “animal person”. On the contrary, I think animals sense and respect a quiet strength and the feeling of security that comes with it.

    That story of the sultan (which I had not heard before) seems especially poignant in this day and age.

  13. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Father,
    Thank you for this series: sources, original texts, early witnesses, are always edifying, and not always ae easy to find as one might hope!

    Thanks also to The Chicken for more detail about ‘Belle prière à faire pendant la messe’! The context and the closing petition ‘Ô Maître’ would suggest that ‘Seigneur’ is particularly addressed to Christus Deus, though I am not sure there is anything absolutely excluding its being addressed to another Person or indeed the Trinity (as ‘Kyrios’ became substituted for JHVH in the Septuagint and so on).

  14. Ambrose Jnr says:

    “Bunny-hugging bird kisser” LOL!

    Due to my British English background, ‘bird kisser’ sounds more appropriate to an unmarried lay person than to anyone in a religious order :-)

  15. lisa says:

    terrific, now that annoying song is stuck in my head…

  16. PA mom says:

    That makes so much more sense. The issue of peace, how to get it, where it is from, what constitutes it, seems a very foggy issue these days.
    And I do not care for that song either, and have recently formally lodged a request for my children’s school to reconsider all of the “me”, “I” songs that dominate their Masses.

  17. Pingback: St Francis was no Hippy. Nope. | Corning Catholic Curmudgeon

  18. New Sister says:

    Despite what St Paul says about “an angel of light”, often the Devil disguises himself as a kind little hippy! I don’t know how many of you have ever received that ridiculous, schmaltzy email ascribed to St Thérèse of Lisieux — it’s new-agey and certainly NOT written by her. Yet I have received dozens of times from well-intentioned catechists, parishoners, etc. and have even found it posted on the websites of parishes bearing her name!

    The best way to reveal the counterfeit “prayers” of sains is as you’re doing, Father, in defense of St Francis. To vindicate Thérèse, I reply-all each time to that stupid email with a true sample of her writing, her “Act of Oblation to Merciful Love” which asks God to consume her as a victim of holocaust in the fire of His Love – here. http://www.ewtn.com/therese/readings/readng4.htm
    :-D

  19. Genevieve says:

    Don’t joke about “Brother Sun Sister Moon,” Father – my parish still sings it. And “Make Me a Channel of Your Peace”? It’s been done at least three times since the pope’s election. Please pray for my parish.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    St. Francis is at once the most beloved and most misunderstood saint in the Catholic Church. You have to realize, when you look at him, that you’re looking across the paradigm changes of 800 years, and many, many things have changed meaning: words, concepts, symbols. We are smack in the middle of the notorious “Franciscan Question” here, which is not only academic. Be very careful.

  21. catholicmidwest says:

    The study of St. Francis and Franciscanism has an exegetical character. He is a singular character in Catholic history because he set out not only to love Christ with his whole self, but imitate him literally in every possible way. For this reason, and because 800 years have passed, studying St. Francis has an almost exegetical character. It is true that there is a literal sense in which St. Francis can be naively understood, but it is fraught with dangers if too much is made of it because there are so many culturally bound templates of thought that he can be “dropped into” unawares. Again, be careful.

  22. Skeinster says:

    Leper-kisser, more like.
    New Sister: I have never encountered this e-mail. Could you please, for our education, post a little of it? Just the first sentence of two would do. Thanks!
    Adding my thanks for no longer feeling guilty re: the Prayer (Not) of St. Francis.

  23. Mary T – actually the Subiaco image featured on the cover of Fr. Thompson’s book is not an authentic portrait of Francis (the cord for instance was added in later). The most commonly accepted image is held in the Museum of the Porziuncola (St. Mary of the Angels, Assisi) and can be viewed here http://www.porziuncola.org/gallerie/museo/BC/DSC_24.jpg. The Cimabue image in the lower church of the Basilica of St. Francis (just above the remains of Bernardo di Quintavalle) is probably based on that portrait – though it has been repainted. The image in the Porziuncola is said to have been painted at the time of his death. Another image, said to have been painted for Lady Jacoba (known as Brother Jacoba and the only woman admitted to the Friary to see St. Francis), a detail of which can be seen here: http://newtheologicalmovement.blogspot.ie/2010/10/st-francis-man-of-sorrows.html.

    On the wider issue: I hope that the Holy Father guides the Church toward a pursuit of personal poverty and simplicity but not one that confuses personal poverty with liturgical poverty or a poverty of symbolism or a poverty of understanding. St. Francis was all for personal poverty but very much against anything that smacked of a lack of reverence for the Lord, His ministers, His Church or His Gospel.

    How often have we clergy and religious been like Judas using the poor as an excuse for not spending money on our Lord and then spending it on our selves instead?

  24. catholicmidwest says:

    “…..toward a pursuit of personal poverty and simplicity but not one that confuses personal poverty with liturgical poverty or a poverty of symbolism or a poverty of understanding. St. Francis was all for personal poverty but very much against anything that smacked of a lack of reverence for the Lord, His ministers, His Church or His Gospel.”

    Well said.

  25. aquinasadmirer says:

    My nine-year-old asked me about the Pope’s name. “Why do you think he chose Francis?”
    I answered, “This is just a guess, I can’t really know, but I think it’s: St. Francis of Assisi because he was a reformer, St. Francis Xavier because he was a Jesuit, and missionary and evangelist, and St. Francis de Sales because of his gift for catechesis.”

    Since that time, I’ve only heard and read about St. Francis of Assisi in comparison to our new Holy Father. Did I go off into the weeds talking about the other two St. Francis examples? Is there an indication that we know it’s primarily because of St. Francis of Assisi that the name Francis was chosen?

    I think it’s interesting that a Jesuit who chose the name Francis for his pontificate is not compared to St. Francis Xavier very much. At the title of this article it said “St. Francis” but it’s assumed that means “.. of Assisi” Is this an assumption, or is there’s something I’ve missed that tells us more. My Catholic “both-and not either-or” approach was in high-gear when I was explaining my reasons.

    -Mark

  26. He chose the name inspired by St Francis of Assisi.

  27. aquinasadmirer says:

    Thanks Fr. Z.

    Did he tell folks the first day, or did that come out later? When did you hear it?

    -Mark

  28. aquinasadmirer says:

    Found it! I see I wasn’t the only one guessing at the beginning.

    Thanks, Fr. Z.

  29. The Masked Chicken says:

    It seems the, Peace Prayer,” got attributed to St. Francis because of an unfortunate series of accidents:
    1. A holy card with St. Francis on the front and the prayer in French on the back was printed in about 1920 (having no connection to social justice, whatever – it is purely a prayer for the disposition of the soul).
    2. A Protestant group possibly got hold of the card (I’m speculating, since the Protestsnt group was, likewise, French) in 1927 and misattributed it to St. Francis because they didn’t quite understand holy cards and because, at that time, St. Francis was one of only a handful of Catholic saints the average Protestant would have known
    3. The first English translation, in 1936, was done by Kirby Page, who was an extreme pacifist, editor of The World Tomorrow (who would claim Richard Niebuhr as a contributor), which had extreme liberal, even socialist tendencies, who was fairly anti-Catholic (so any connection of the prayer to the Mass would be antithetical to him), and an extreme supporter of the social gospel.

    No wonder this prayer got converted into a social protest song of sorts during the 1960′s. Google Translate uses the song lyrics to translate the original French (someone must have, “aided,” them). The original is a little more muscular. It reads, for example: Where there is hate, let me [I would] put love. Everything is in the subjunctive, which in the que + subjunctive indicates a strong sentiment or command. This is, actually, closer to a Carmelite sentiment than a Franciscan one, because St. John of the Cross, in his last letter (to a nun) while he was in exile, wrote, “Do not think, but that God ordains all and where there is not love, put love, and you will draw out love.” This use of antithetical contrasting statements is more of a Carmelite habit of speech than a Franciscan one, it seems to me. In any case, Page, in linking this prayer to St. Francis, is, I suspect, largely responsible for making the tail wag the dog and made Francis into an image of the poem instead of making the poem into an image of Francis.

    So, the whole notion of this prayer being connect with St. Francis is entirely accidental and, sadly, probably, entirely Protestant.

    The Chicken

  30. The Masked Chicken says:

    I think I figured out how the, “Peace Prayer,” got associated with St. Francis and how St. Francis got turned into a social justice wimp. The comment is awaiting moderation, but you can thank our Protestant brethren, I think.

    The Chicken

  31. catholicmidwest says:

    Chicken,
    It’s actually not “entirely Protestant,” Chicken. The poem first appeared in a Catholic parish magazine; it’s suspected that that real author was a parish priest. It was popularized and it is most used precisely by Catholics, who love it.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a good thing to be a protestant, but they’re not responsible for everything we don’t like. Very far from it.

  32. The Masked Chicken says:

    Mamajen,

    Here you go:

    “Below, are the star and the flower of nard. The star, according to the ancient heraldic tradition, symbolizes the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, while the flower of nard shows St. Joseph, patron of the universal Church. In the iconographic tradition Hispanic, in fact, St. Joseph is depicted holding a branch of spikenard. By placing these images in his shield, the Pope wanted to express his particular devotion to the Blessed Virgin and St. Joseph.

    From: http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-religion/2998031/posts

  33. catholicmidwest says:

    Some of St. Francis’ prayers do have words in them referring to himself. This one was particularly important to him:
    Prayer Before the Crucifix
    Most high,
    Glorious God,
    enlighten the darkness of my heart
    and give me, Lord,
    a correct faith,
    certain hope,
    perfect charity,
    sense and knowledge,
    so that I can carry out Your holy and true command.

    The Catholic religion is not just a “thing to belong to” or “a system of morals” or “something you are born into.” It’s a relationship, a relationship between the soul and God first, which becomes a relationship with other people precisely because God loves them too. It reads just like Matthew 22:34-40. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=matthew%2022&version=NRSVCE (NRSV-Catholic Edition).

    Even St. John of the Cross (Carmelite) has some very referential passages in the Dark Night. In fact, the very first line reads:

    On a dark night, Kindled in love with yearnings—oh, happy chance!—
    I went forth without being observed, My house being now at rest.

  34. catholicmidwest says:

    And even though St. Francis does use the words I and me, proper to a relationship with God, it’s very, very unlikely that St. Francis would ever have written anything putting himself in the place of God in a poem or a hymn, like the infamous “Be Not Afraid.” ROFLOL.

    If I am with you, and that’s all you can sing about, and I am me catholicmidwest, be very afraid. I’m a terrible driver, absent-minded forgetful and near-sighted. That’s your warning, take it or leave it.

  35. Andkaras says:

    When poor St. Francis upon preaching the glories of God to all, was often ignored ,slandered or rebuked ,he would sorrow and anguish over the shallowness of men . God, meanwhile so enjoyed hearing Francis loving words ,sent him the consolation of the lesser creatures so that Francis might continue. The next time your joyful declarations are turned rudely back to you ,go outside and look up and tell them all the more , just see if you don’t get a lovely audience. We have had deer come right up to the window in summer when praying the rosary in french.

  36. Sigh.

    I think there is a bit of over-interpration going no. The quality of the Peace Prayer that makes it “unFrancis of Assisi” is not the mere presence of first person pronouns. It is, as I explicitly say, their constant repetition. In fact, such pronouns are very rare in his prayers: cf. The Canticle of Creatures or the Canticle of Exhoration, or the Liturgy of the Passion. Also, the fact is that Francis does not call God or Jesus “Master” in any place I know of. And the single appearance of Lord in the Peace Prayer is in marked contrast to, say, the Canticle of the Creatures. My point was stylistic, the Peace Prayer has virtually nothing in common with Francis known prayers stylistically. Which does not stop it from having a noble sentiment. By the way, I discuss all these prayers in my book, including the Prayer Before the Crucifix.

    And, thanks Chicken. I had heard, but never seen confirmed that the first appearance of the Peace Prayer as that of Francis was on the priestly ordination card of Francis Spellman (later Cardinal). I suspect this a (erroneous?) conjecture due to his promoting the prayer in his books.

  37. Septima says:

    It doesn’t help that the Franciscans themselves promote the “bunny-hugging bird kisser” image, or beat either “Peace Prayer” and “Brother Sun” to death at their Masses and events.

    The truth about Francis and his philosophies is pretty much what set me in loggerheads with the Minister of the SFO (and their teaching materials – “Catch Me a Rainbow” would set your brain on fire, Father) in which I had once been a candidate, six months from profession. Well, that, and telling him in so many words that he was encouraging heresy and teaching untruths.

    If our newly minted pope is indeed of the same cloth as the saint and man he proclaims to want to pattern his papacy after, the liberals in the church are going to be very upset here soon.

    I’ll make everyone some popcorn about six months from now. :)

  38. pvmkmyer says:

    We were subjected to the “Peace Prayer” yesterday at Mass, as I’m sure many others were supposedly in honor of our new pope. I was pitching our choir director to do “Tu Es Petrus”, but I suppose that would have taken more rehearsal time than we had.

  39. Xmenno says:

    My Secular Franciscan husband says to remind everyone that the ubiquitous “Preach always and use words if necessary” was also not said by St. Francis. I always thought it was a cop out anyway to not have to talk about our faith if we were just nice to everyone!

  40. Imrahil says:

    Only…

    “Preach always and use words if necessary”

    is right, whether or not it was said by St. Francis.

    See at length II Vatican Council “Ad gentes” (to me, the Council’s best document).

    And for all those troubled with seemingly inattainable tasks to fulfil, a cop-out may come in useful. Despair, even if it is not despair of salvation strictly but only despair of acting good, is neither necessary nor helpful.

  41. BillyHW says:

    Thank you for posting this.

  42. catholicmidwest says:

    Imrahil,

    The funny thing is that when the situation actually seems to call for saying something like “Preach always and use words if necessary,” preaching with words is actually what’s necessary. Otherwise, there’d be no point in saying it, would there?

    I go with Xmenno’s husband. I think it’s a cop-out too.

  43. The Masked Chicken says:

    “It’s actually not “entirely Protestant,” Chicken. The poem first appeared in a Catholic parish magazine; it’s suspected that that real author was a parish priest. It was popularized and it is most used precisely by Catholics, who love it.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a good thing to be a protestant, but they’re not responsible for everything we don’t like. Very far from it.”

    Catholicmidwest,

    You misunderstood me. Of course, the prayer was originally a personal dispositive one to be used at Mass and quickly gained ecclesiastical approbation (within 4 years of its composition). I mentioned this in my Mar. 18, 7:40 am comment, above. At that time, however, the prayer had no connection to St. Francis. The 192o holy card of St. Francis with the meditation on the back (but not cited as being from St. Francis) would have been understood as two separate things – the picture and a separate meditation. The printer may have thought it were appropriate to put the two together, but, even today, a picture of St. Joseph may have an unattributed prayer on the back, but no Catholic would assume the prayer were from St. Joseph. It may make one think of some virtue of St. Joseph, but that is a far cry from acting as if the prayer were from St. Joseph. Most Catholics would catch on to that (I collect holy cards. I have three photo albums worth of them, some going back to the 1890′s, if I recall).

    Now, in 1927 a Protestant group got hold of the card, but not being Catholic, they made two mistakes: 1) They thought the meditation was from St. Francis. What did they know? St. Francis was popular even to Protestants, but it was unlikely that they knew either Italian or Latin (these were French Protestants) and certainly would not have looked up the meditation in the collected works (which, I guessing did not exist at the time, anyways). Thus, not knowing how to interpret holy cards, assumed the meditation was from St. Francis, 2) having no conception of Catholic liturgical celebration, they would have conveniently overlooked that it was a meditation to be made before Mass (if that beginning section were attached – I have not seen the holy card). In any case, they turned a meditation to be made before the Eucharist into an all-purpose, non-denominational prayer. In other words, they Protestantized it.

    In 1936, not only the meditation, but the character of St. Francis on the front of the holy card was re-written by Kirby Page. The prayer was re-interpreted as a social justice prayer by Page (who was a socialist and social justice advocate) and St. Francis was given the characteristic of bring a bunny-hugging hippie (in modern terms). No Catholic would have recognized St. Francis in that context up to then. He was, in Catholic circles, known as il Poverello – the poor man, but he was known for being tough as nails when he needed to be. His connection to and influence on both Dominican and Carmelite spirituality is well-known an in neither Order is he known for being a social justice wimp. That was Page’s reading his own ideas into St. Francis via the meditation.

    As I said, then, everything screwed up about both the meditation and how St. Francis is interpreted in connection to it is of Protestant origin. Protestant have, in some cases, of they don’t understand or agree with Catholic doctrine (or even doctrine of other Protestnt groups), have felt perfectly justified in re-interpreting the doctrines or experiences according to their beliefs. It seems to be what they do, sometimes. I can give historical examples that are pretty compelling.

    So, the meditation is Catholic, but, today, it is rarely understood according to the original Catholic intent thanks to the intervention of personalist and popularist interpretations by people who were not Catholic.

    The Chicken

  44. catholicmidwest says:

    The prayer originally appeared in La Clochette, put out by the Holy Mass Society in Paris, which was a pious association. It was not, however, designed to be inserted into the Mass by a priest, because as you know you couldn’t have done that legitimately in 1901. It was, instead, designed as a devotional prayer for the mass attendee who wanted to add it to their liturgical devotions. [I remember the mass prior to V2, and yes, private devotions by the laity during mass were a common practice. Not saying it's bad or good, but I remember it very well.]

    It was picked up by Protestants and Catholics alike and carried forward because it was a cute little devotional poem about the m0st popular saint in the Church, albeit the most misunderstood saint in the Church. St. Francis didn’t write very much personally, and not much of that was translated into English anyway, so there was a dearth of things to quote. And most of his real works aren’t very quotable anyway, if you want to know the truth; he wasn’t that kind of saint. Also….You know as well as I do that a holy card can sit in a missal for 50 years and have a long devotional life, so I have no doubt it’s been around in Catholic circles for decades, probably ever since it came to light in the early 20th century. Its popularity was revived by no less than Cardinal Spellman in New York, so I have no doubt that this is how it became so widely known among Catholics in the US.

    I simply don’t see the conspiracy theory here, I guess. I’m not a fan of the prayer because I also think it’s shallow and sticky sweet. But a lot of popular devotion is, if you want to know the truth. Some personal devotion is also quasi-bogus. I hope that’s not news to you; it shouldn’t be. That doesn’t make it worthless; far from it. But it is what it is.

  45. catholicmidwest says:

    Chicken,
    I’ve been Catholic for decades now, and before that, I was Protestant for decades–in several different denominations. And I can honestly tell you that Protestants spend far less time talking about Catholics than most Catholics think. They simply do not sit around slandering Catholics all day long. In fact, as a Protestant with an all-Protestant family as I had, you can go YEARS without hearing a single thing about Catholics, honestly. They’re far too busy talking about other things. The conversation is a lot different than it is in the Catholic Church in a lot of ways, some fortunate, some not. Honestly.

  46. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    In Pope Francis’s speech (linked above by Aquinasadmirer), I was interested to read: ‘Afterwards, people were joking with me. “But you should call yourself Hadrian, because Hadrian VI was the reformer, we need a reform…” ‘ When Fr. Z was posting about likely names, I wondered whether Hadrian/Adrian VII was a possibility (and whether F. Rolfe’s novel of that name might have any weight of negative effect, if anyone were considering it). Hadrian VI was a striking, humble, learned ‘outsider’, who was resisted too effectively and died (if one may properly say such a thing) too soon – may Pope Francis combine Hadrian VI’s virtues with greater success and many years!

  47. Imrahil says:

    I think it’s a cop-out too.

    And so? As it were, I rather like a good cop-out when I need one. For example if I get exposed to a heavily moralistic sermon about how we Christians have to evangelize all day long and give our utmost, etc. etc. and so on and so on.

    Yet as a matter of fact, the setting of “Preach always; if necessary use words” is not the situation where you positively question “do I preach now, or don’t I”, but the theoretical explanation of “what does ‘our whole life is an apostolate’” (a sentence of course true in itself) “actually mean”?

    As to the rest, please please, give us concrete rules. Either as general rules binding on all Christians, or possibly as voluntary rules for people (in a society in a parish, etc.) willing to evangelize especially. Not denying the Lord is such a thing, binding on all Christians. Giving answer to all those who ask (!) for the reason of our hope is another such thing, binding on all Christians. But wherever it cannot be said that person X committed a sin in not preaching this, I do prefer her to have a cop-out when asked why she did not preach.

  48. catholicmidwest says:

    Imrahil,
    The Catholic Church has a mission, given to us by Christ himself:

    The Commissioning of the Disciples
    16 Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.””

    Cop-outs on this are a bad thing. This is what we’re supposed to be doing.

  49. The Masked Chicken says:

    Catholicmidwest,

    I was not suggesting a conspiracy, nor did I say such. There is something in musicology known as, Reception Geschichte, which a study of how music is translated from culture to culture over time, including how audiences react and understand the music. I was making a reception analysis and probably not being too clear. I hope I gave no offense. If so, it was probably due to my poor writing.

    The point is not worth going on, about. I understand what you mean, but my intent and analysis was meant differently than what I seem to understand how you interpreted it.

    Oh, well. Those are the risks you take in a combox.

    The Chicken

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