Greetings on this day of "Wisdom."
After a few beautifully warm days in California, I am finally back here in Chicago, where winter has taken a firm grip. Here is a photo outside of my office window. Difficult to get the perspective, but that is at least a five foot snow drift!
I was in California for a business meeting then headed out to the desert to play the piano at an annual Christmas party hosted by a good friend, a retired priest. Here is a photo I took from his patio; hard to believe I was there just a few days ago; what a contrast to the photo above, yes?
I wanted to tell you about one thing that happened at this Christmas party, attended by about 40 guests, some who are Roman Catholic, others not. My friend usually does a little speech at the conclusion of the party, thanking people for coming, praying for friends who have died, and then offering a few spiritual nuggets. He began by saying, "Say, what about our new pope, Pope Francis?" The place erupted in cheers and applause. Most people in the room were 70 and older and as I looked out at them, I saw genuine excitement and love for the man who had just been named Time's "person of the year." I think for those people in attendance, Francis is their own "person of the year." And I must admit that that is my sentiment as well. I have not felt this way about a pope since the early years of the pontificate of Bl. Pope John Paul II. With the clergy sexual abuse crisis that has gripped the Church for too many years, accompanied by the cover-ups and misaligned protective policies by some bishops, I felt that our Church had lost its bearings; had lost its moral ground. Too much attention was being paid to issues that facilitated further divide among Catholics; it seems that too much of the pastoral dimension of the Church was being clouded. While it will take decades for trust to be restored, it just seems to at least me that Pope Francis is helping us get our bearings once again.
I know some of you will disagree, but I hope that a renewed sense of peace and reconciliation, inspired by the Holy Spirit, will take a firm hold.
O Wisdom of our God Most High,
guiding creation with power and love:
come to teach us the path of knowledge!
Gotta sing. Gotta pray.