The mainstream media are now working their way out of the hands-clutching-rosaries stage of their coverage, after a marathon of anchorpersons trying to project nonstop sympathy for the pope and those who loved him. Now we are transitioning into the serious coverage that will resemble the New Hampshire primary with vestments and incense (more on that later). The faux-political polls ought to start coming out any minute now. But there has been some interesting commentary on the cable channels -- not much, but some.
Over on MSNBC, Chris "Hardball" Matthews had a long, detailed conversation with former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn about the role of Catholic faith and doctrine in the current canyon inside the Democratic Party, between the old-line FDR voters and the modern lifestyle left. Both were spunky, but treated each other with respect. Then Patrick Buchanan showed up and Matthews did a pretty decent job of helping him dissect the Catholic vs. Libertarian split, as well. I kept waiting for the Revs. Jesse Jackson and Pat Robertson to crash in and wreck things.
Toward the end of the evening, I heard a commentator -- a priest, last name Morris -- mention the symbolism of the pope dying on the eve of "Divine Mercy Sunday" and a link between this feast and Polish mysticism. That reminded me of some personal emails earlier in the day from Rod "Friend of this blog" Dreher of The Dallas Morning News. Hang on, this gets interesting:
As everybody knows, John Paul is a mystic. As he hovers near death, I'm thinking of another Polish mystic, St. Faustina Kowalska, who died in 1938, and was canonized by John Paul on April 30, 2000. During her short life, St. Faustina lived as a cloistered nun, and claimed to have had many visions and locutions of Jesus and Mary, which she recorded in a lengthy diary. The diary was published some years after her death, and is widely available in English under the title "Divine Mercy In My Soul."
Anyway, Faustina's diary records numerous apocalyptic messages, in which Jesus and Mary speak of chastisement coming upon mankind if it fails to repent, and encouraging Faustina to spread devotion to "Divine Mercy" to stay the hand of divine judgment. One of the messages is particularly interesting. In 1937, a year before her death, St. Faustina wrote:
As I was praying for Poland, I heard the words: I bear a special love for Poland, and if she will be obedient to My will, I will exalt her in might and holiness. From her will come forth the spark that will prepare the world for My final coming.
When he canonized St. Faustina in 2000, John Paul made the celebration of "Divine Mercy Sunday" a universal feast of the Catholic Church, as St. Faustina wrote that Christ requested. Divine Mercy Sunday is always the first Sunday after Easter. . . . Maybe it's just a coincidence.
Later in the day, Dreher came back for another round. It seems that Krakow, Poland, was always the center of the Divine Mercy devotion. So here we have a future Cardinal Archbishop of Krakow, a priest who said from the beginning that he felt very close to Sister Faustina, becoming pope, leading the effort to canonize Faustina and making Divine Mercy Sunday a feast of the worldwide church. And then this Polish priest-bishop-pope dies after sundown, as his church begins the Sunday celebration of the Divine Mercy feast, a feast linked to what some Catholics see as a mystical prophecy about a "spark" from Poland that is a sign of . . .
Wait a minute. Do the Left Behind guys know about all of this?