Sunday, September 28, 2014


Eternal Memory!

As I type this entry it is 7:00 A.M in Rome. Thirty-six years ago to the day, just a few hours ago, Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul the First, the Smiling Pope, was found dead in his bed after just thirty-three days.

Pope John Paul I was the first pope to abandon coronation and the triple tiera. He was the first pope to have a Papal Inauguration and the last pope to use the Sedia Gestatoria.

There are many better photos than the two I have chosen to post.  These two most resonate with my memory of those days.  I remember the beaming, contagious smile. Look at the ill fitting sleeves of the cassock!  Even the smallest one was too big for his small frame I would read a few years later in an account of the events immediately after his election.

My cold hardened heart melts and my eyes water as I look at these images. I remember our phone ringing early that morning, and my mother waking me.  Father Kelly wanted me at the church that morning to serve Mass for the repose of the soul of the Pope. As I entered the sacristy and prepared for Mass, I could see the frame of Father Kelly kneeling in the first pew on the (Gospel) side of the church with the large image of the Mother of Perpetual Help, praying his rosary and weeping.  Father was in his mid sixties, typical of many Irish-American priests of his age, I had never seen him cry, not when I served his niece's wedding nor his own mother's funeral. 

Many of the young men being ordained priests today have no memories of any Pope except John Paul II and Benedict XVI, nor the older form of the Mass (rattled off in twenty-five minuets with the only audible words being "...per omnia saecula saeculorum. Amen.") unless exposed to one of the rare "Indult Masses" growing up.  America Magazine referred to Luciani as the Forgotten Pope, but I for one, will always remember.

If you want to get a glimpse inside the mind and heart of Pope John Paul I, pick up a copy of his book (written while Patriarch of Venice) titled Illustrissimi or "To the Illustrious Ones," a collection of letters to forty historical persons and fictional characters.  It's one of the only texts available in English that can give you an idea of the person he was and the pontificate that might have been.  I certain that Papa Luciani would be pleased with Pope Francis, especially considering his continued reform of Vatican finances.

The best way to close this post is with the words of the late Pope himself.

"We wish to continue in following up the legacy of the Second Vatican Council whose wise regulations have still to be led to their fulfillment, being careful that a push, generous perhaps, but unduly timed, does not detract from the content and meaning of the council, and on the other hand being careful and reined and timid efforts do not slow up the magnificent drive of renewal and of life." 
Address to the crowd in St Peter's Square 27 August 1978

"We are the objects of undying love on the part of God. We know: he has always his eyes open on us, even when it seems to be dark. He is our father; even more he is our mother. He does not want to hurt us, He wants only to do good to us, to all of us. If children are ill, they have additional claim to be loved by their mother. And we too, if by chance we are sick with badness, on the wrong track, have yet another claim to be loved by the Lord.
Angelus, 10 September 1978

 "The Church's main task is to divinize but this does not excuse her from the task of humanizing. I also voted for Gaudium et Spes. I was moved and enthusiastic when Populorum Progressio was published. I think that the Church's magisterium can never do too much to present and urge the solutions to the great problems of freedom, justice, peace and development, and the Catholic laity can never fight too hard to solve these problems." 
General audience, 20 September 1978

 And of course, his last General Audience 27 September 1978, one of the few times he spoke in English.


  1. Beautiful posting. And I think Pope John Paul I certainly would have approved of Pope Francis. Luciani's motto as a Bishop was that of Saint Charles Borromeo: HUMILITAS

  2. Papa Luciani is looking down from Heaven and smiling with approval at the work of Papa Bergoglio.

  3. Oohhh what grace, what BEAUTY! WHAT PROVIDENCE!! HE COULDN'T EVEN FIT INTO HIS CASSOCK! HE just MUSTVE been the most HUMBLEST HOLIEST POPE of them all! (Until the coming of the Salvator Ecclesiae Papa I wanna touch myself he's just so perfect and awesome, Francis!). May God bless all pontiffs.

    1. Convert ?
      Or just a nasty C U Next Tuesday?
      Or maybe both? (That would explain much)
      Thanks for your "enlightened" comments. Don't let the door knob hit ya, where the good Lord split ya.

  4. Just tryong to keep up with the majority of posts of this blog as of late! ; )

  5. I used to really and simply enjoy this blog. It used to be so much fun. Now it's just like all the others. Back in the origonal days of the blog i loved it. Then when it "rose up from the ashes" two years ago i was ecstatic. Pieces like: "Corn-holing at NAC" or "Advice for the Young and Ambitious" are examples of how much fun and enjoyable this blog used to be. I'm just dissappointed. It's no longer fun, sadly.

    1. Thanks for the direct feedback. It's appreciated.
      I've either grown, or decompensated. The jury is still out. I'm praying for the mercy of The Judge.
      I've always been fond of John Paul I.
      I don't do many serious posts. I can take the criticism when I'm being a snarky jack ass. When I cross the line from parody to outright nastiness I expect to be called out on it. Funny thing is, those that hold me most accountable are non-Christians.
      The Slavs have a saying that people get the bishop they most deserve.
      I think that God grants the Church the Pope She most needs.
      John Paul II gave the Church stability after a period of rapid (in church time at least) and radical change. Benedict XVI redirected the focus on Sacred Liturgy. (though many of his devotees continue to take things to the extreme) and now Pope Francis emphasizes mercy.
      I'm not saying that previous popes were not merciful. I was most surprised many times by Benedict's fatherly kindness.
      Yes, may God bless all pontiffs! (Supreme and ordinary)

    2. Exactly! And many thanks Fr. D! I understand completely. (I have nothing againsts JPI myself. As i said, just happened to use that post as vehicle of frustration with the more recent turn of tone at the blog.) I sincerely hope we can have more fun and relaxation, with obvious ribbing at the stuffiness of many and varied churchmen out there. Once again, many of us truly enjoyed and laugh heartily at those wonderful classic posts; like the two i mentioned previously.

  6. This made me cry. I was just a very young Muslim girl when he was elected, and I remember seeing this small picture of him on the news behind Walter Cronkite...and it was love at first sight. I cried when he died 33 days later; I can still remember the shock.
    He was, in truth, my first clerical crush - to be followed by Oscar Romero, Denis Hurley, and Desmond Tutu. Maybe that's why, after I converted to Catholicism, my priests, bishops, and popes had a hard time measuring up.
    Or they did, until Francis: when I saw him step out, I fell in love all over again, just like that distant day...and held my breath for months, praying he wouldn't leave us so soon too.
    The papacy that should have been and the papacy that finally is. Deo gratias.
    Also, thank you for your blog - one much needed in the Catholic blogoshpere - keep on calling it when the emperor has no clothes - or when they're all immodest, see-through lace. :-D Your reaction to being called out above lets me trust you - it's the grace I hope I react with when I am.
    G-d bless, now and always.