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The Pope for Everyone

Meet the Pope!

Meet the Pope!

The Church as a whole has seemed overjoyed and hanging on every move of our gutsy new Pope, Francis. The fever ran high immediately: a Jesuit Pope? Just earlier that day I was having a conversation with someone about how there’ll never be a Jesuit Pope. Maybe not never, but not in my lifetime, that was I oh so convinced of. And then he chose the name Francis – it took a while to really get an answer about which St. Francis he was taking the name from – there are 3 pretty big name St. Francises (is that really the plural of Francis?) in our Church history. It came out later that he chose it after Francis of Assisi, for his love of the poor.

St. Ignatius of Loyola gave Jesuits 2 mottos: "for the greater glory of God" and "sinners yet called"

St. Ignatius of Loyola gave Jesuits 2 mottos: “for the greater glory of God” and “sinners yet called”

On top of all of that, he is an American pope – not from the USA, as we so easily think of America, but very clearly, he is a Pope from the Americas. And yet, his family has Italian roots – returning the Papacy to where it had been for hundreds of years prior to Blessed John Paul II.

Ok, so we’ve got an Italian and an American Pope, a Jesuit who took the name Francis.

Everyone got this guy figured out yet? Me neither. And my guess is, the second you think you’ve got Pope Francis figured out, you’re just begging to be proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry

Tulip Capital of the World

Red Tulips

The often-disputed tulip capital of the world are the Keukenhof Gardens (“kitchen gardens”) situated near Lisse, Netherlands.  The good people of Holland, Michigan hold the title of tulip capital of the USA, but since their town is named after the very country containing Keukenhof, I think it is safe for me to declare once and for all the beautiful Keukenhof Gardens as #1 in tulips. Now you know, whether you wanted to or not.

I bring all this up because on my way into church today I walked past a beautiful bed of multi-colored tulips in full blossom.  As far as I am concerned the front flowerbed at Holy Name of Jesus is as beautiful as anything Keukenhof or Holland, Michigan has to offer.  Long stemmed and big, beautiful blossoms, these flowers were worthy of note.  I couldn’t help but stop and smell the..err..tulips.

I was most struck by the fact that these chromatic creations were all leaning towards the newly risen sun.  Each flower straining and pushing to get closer to that ball of exploding gas which rains radiation, light, and heat down upon our green globe.  I’m no botanical genius, but I guessed this had something to do with photosynthesis and the plants seeking to expose their leaves to the most sunlight possible, but I didn’t really know.

So, I looked it up on the magical interwebs.  The process is called Heliotropism which is how we describe plants turning to face the sun.  According the one website I read, plants follow the sun for better photosynthesis and the warmer flowers may attract more pollinating insects.  What is interesting is that they do this all day long.  These flowering plants will slowly turn their blossoms and leaves all day so as to get the best light as the sun moves across our sky (sorry Copernicus – I meant to say “we rotate while the sun stays still.”).

As Christians we need to be more like Tulips.

No seriously, not photoshopped - Fields of real tulips.

We should be more like these petalled posies not by being heliotropic but by being Christotropic.  I mean this in two ways:

  1. Yearning for the sun: When the sun rises small “motor” cells in the base of the plant enlarge with water in just a certain way to turn and push the tulips to face and ultimately reach for the sun. We need to strain and lean into our God.  We must, from our very base, turn our whole posture to face and take in as much of God’s light as we possibly can.  With our whole being, physically as well as spiritually, we need to turn our life towards Christ.  Christ needs to be the center of all that we do.  We should do this in such a way that others notice.  When I saw the flowers reaching for the sun, I naturally turned my face to the rising sun as well.
  2. From the rising to the setting of the sun: These flowers, and sunflowers like them, not only strain for God at the first moments of sunlight in the morning, but all day long they turn so as to face the heavenly rays of light.  Us too must give each moment, from the rising of the sun to the setting, to God.  Throughout our day, we must learn to turn our attention to God.  Whether we are at school, work, or play, whatever we are doing, we must continuously be attentive to God. As Psalm 113 says, “From the rising of the sun to its setting let the name of the Lord be praised.”

So next time you see some beautiful flowers, let those simple plants remind you to be Christotropic everyday, all day.

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