View from the choir

I am a Catholic layperson and Secular Franciscan with a sense of humor. After years in the back pew watching, I have moved into the choir. It's nice to see faces instead of the backs of heads. But I still maintain God has a sense of humor - and that we are created in God's image.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

That book addiction - and Blessed Pope John XXIII

Given my addition to books, I've been pretty good about keeping to the rule I instituted last summer: For every new book I buy I have to get rid of two.

I've also been thinking twice about buying more books in general.

St. Francis would applaud.

That came to the fore yesterday when we ventured out to the Catholic bookstore in Spencerport.

I stumbled across at least five books that in the past I would have been tempted to buy. And a couple of DVDs.

Attempting to be more true to the Franciscan poverty I admire and try to emulate, I left with none.

I helped to counter the temptation by thinking of all the books I had at home that I had not finished, or even started.

So last night I got out our copy of the DVD about Blessed Pope John XXIII (the one starring Ed Asner), and my copy of John XXIII: The Official Biography by Mario Benigni and Goffroedo Zanchi. He was, of course, a lover of knowledge and books himself.

In the DVD, which I like, we made it as far as his election as Pope.

In the book, I picked up where I had left off: When he was a seminarian, ages 17-19.

His prayer life even at that young age tweaked my 55-year-old conscience. His struggles with pride sounded familiar.

I was particularly struck by his battle with trying to draw attention to himself by showing off his knowledge.

"He hints (in Journal of a Soul) that he used words and clever phrases out of a secret desire to flaunt his knowledge and to make known, whether directly or indirectly, that he had studied."

That hit home. How often do I make sure I insert some joke or comment just to make sure the other people know how much I know?

I need to learn to hold my tongue and follow the humble example of Blessed Pope John XXIII - another pope I hope to see declared a Saint in my lifetime.


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