The Counter-Culture


Herman had an interesting conversation with his guardian angel Gomez recently. Gomez told Herman about a trio of popes God had ordained to be put into the world for a special time of great mercy. This great mercy would coincide with a time of terrible evil, deception and oppression all around the world.

Herman was intrigued by what his angel friend was telling him.


In Pope Francis’ third exhortation to the faithful, entitled, Gaudete et Exsultate: On The Call To Holiness In Today’s World, he warned the faithful that their joy could easily be replaced by anger and discontent. While wanting to do good, their life of faith could lose its meaning if holiness were not their primary pursuit.

The Bible tells us that we must seek first the Kingdom of God. (Matt 6:33). “Catechize, don’t criticize” is the message Herman and Gomez heard that morning.


This morning, Herman found himself reflecting on the most recent three popes, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, and Francis. They are sometimes referred to as “the Prophet,” “the Professor,” “and the Pastor.” These three popes focused heavily on divine mercy as the theme for their papacy.

Before these three and after Pope Paul VI, the world had another, all but forgotten pope. This man, John Paul I, had actually asked not to be considered by the cardinals for the papacy when Pope Paul VI passed away. It was as if he knew he was not the man God was calling for the job. But nevertheless, the cardinals elected him as the Vicar of Christ.

John Paul I was the Pope for just 33 days, the same number of years that the Christ had lived in the flesh with us. And then he was suddenly called home to heaven by God. That’s when “the Prophet” (John Paul II) became Pope. Miracles took place during his papacy that are beyond the scope of Herman’s recent time in thought and prayer with God. His thoughts then shifted to Pope Benedict XVI.

Benedict XVI is the Pope who resigned. Few people realize that he entered a monastic lifestyle after resigning, committing his remaining days to prayer and penance for the Church and the world. None of us knows what he learned as Pope and what vision God might have given him to do greater good for all as a praying “monk” rather than as a sitting pope.

Was all this a coincidence, Herman wondered? Gomez assured him it was not. God has a plan for the Church and the world. It’s all laid out in the Bible, but we cannot yet see it. What we can see, however, is that ever since Babel, culture has been an essential part of humanity globally. Though many nations and kings have tried, the Church is the only entity to be able to penetrate, exist and thrive in every culture.

Global warming is a reality, though it actually has nothing to do with bovine flatulence. It is the love of God experienced by billions of people in every culture around the world through the Holy Eucharist in the mass. Jesus established the Church. He instituted the Holy Eucharist. And He has been building and protecting the Church, as He promised to do, ever since He walked the earth with us.

The Church is the counter-culture standing in opposition to evil and to the culture of death. The Church actually embraces culture and extends itself as its members live out their lives in culture everywhere. This is a large part of the message of “the Pastor,” Francis, who is the third of the three great popes God has given the world for such a time as this.

This is the time of God’s divine mercy!

Herman decided he and Gomez would have to have some more conversations about this amazing counter-culture we call the Catholic Church.


That’s our story and we’re sticking to it. It’s cool to be Catholic.

In Christ.

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