National Catholic Register

Culture of Life

The Pope's Titles — and God's

User’s Guide to Sunday

BY Tom and April Hoopes

February 28-March 13, 2010 Issue | Posted 2/22/10 at 1:26 PM

 

Sunday, March 7, is the Third Sunday in Lent (Year C, Cycle II).


Papal

Pope Benedict XVI is not just the bishop of the whole Church — he’s the bishop of Rome, and on March 7 he won’t be celebrating 9am Mass at St. Peter’s; he’ll be at St. John of the Cross parish in Rome.

You can share with your family all the titles the Pope has, according to the Vatican yearbook: “Bishop of Rome, Vicar of Jesus Christ, Successor of the Prince of the Apostles, Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church, Primate of Italy, Archbishop and Metropolitan of the Roman Province, Sovereign of the State of the Vatican City, Servant of the Servants of God.”

Popes have said that their favorite title is “Servant of the Servants of God,” which was first used extensively by Pope Gregory the Great. Any good leader realizes his role exists for others’ sake; they don’t exist for his sake.


Family

In the past, during Lent, we have recommended a faith-and-family-friendly schedule that you can adopt now that spring is nearly here. Why do we bring it up again? We found we needed the reminder, so you might, too!

Sunday — family day: Make a pilgrimage, visit a museum or plan a hike.

Schedule no activities for this day that don’t involve the whole family. (You may also have to decide on exceptions: One exception a month may be necessary for some families; sports or some other activity may be an issue during part of the day part of the year.)

Monday — parent meeting or family meeting.

If it sounds daunting, keep it brief. Dad or Mom should update the family on the schedule for the week so that everyone’s aware of what’s going on, and briefly share any important news.

All week — nightly prayer.

Try a nightly Rosary, or at least a decade (10 beads). We have been doing this ever since Pope John Paul II asked for it after 9/11, and it has been great for our family. In story after story in the Register and Faith & Family magazine, the Register’s sister publication, the daily Rosary was cited by Catholics as the major reason they kept their faith — especially when the dad insisted on it.

Friday — game night or parents’ date night.

The family that prays together stays together, and the family that plays together stays happy together!

Saturday — read-aloud night or movie night. We made it Catholic movie night and watch movies from the Register’s top 100 Catholic movies list, which you can find at NCRegister.com under “Resources.” This helps the children realize how broad-based and human the Catholic faith truly is.


Readings

Exodus 3:1-8, 13-15; Psalm 103:1-4, 6-8, 11; 1 Corinthians 10:1-6, 10-12; Luke 13:1-9


Our Take

Today’s readings show that God is playing for keeps — and that his utter seriousness is often a surprise to his people. In particular, they reveal three things about God:

1. God keeps his promises.

God sometimes takes his time responding to his people and keeping his promises, and that means we his people often give up hope. The Israelites did. When God came to Moses and announced that he hadn’t forgotten the covenant with Abraham, and that he would deliver the Israelites, that was the last thing Moses expected. But God is faithful.

2. God is merciful.

When God says he’s merciful, he really means it. The Psalm describes just how dramatic his mercy is. “As the heavens are high above the earth, so surpassing is his kindness toward those who fear him.” But we often forget that God’s mercy entails “fear of God.” That means …

3. God has something to be merciful about.

The first reading reminds us that mercy is only possible in a God who is A) paying attention to what you’re up to in the first place and is B) willing to settle scores when necessary. After all, mercy would be impossible in a God who was indifferent to what you did or unwilling to do anything about it. As St. Paul tells us in the second reading: “Therefore, whoever thinks he is standing secure should take care not to fall.”

4. God isn’t “passive aggressive.”

When people thought God was “out to get” certain Galileans in today’s Gospel, Christ corrected them. He doesn’t trip up people who mess up. What does he do? He explains it in the parable of the fig tree. If the fig tree isn’t producing fruit, he will cut it down. So it is with us. Where we fail to do what we should, God will have patience with us — but the patience isn’t indefinite. Thus, we need to remember his promise and his mercy.

Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas.