I love this pope. He reminds me of my (now dearly departed) maiden Aunt Genevieve.


1955 Chevy Bel Air – Proof of God’s Abiding Love?

by Doug Lawrence

My aunt Gene (Genevieve) never married, always held down a good job, and for most of her life, lived in a modest apartment, along with her two unmarried sisters.

By the time I was two years of age there was already no doubt in my mind that aunt Gene was also a good Catholic. She never failed to attend Sunday Mass – and as further proof of God’s abiding love, she actually won a a three-speed, red and white, 1955 Chevy – at the Saint John of God Church Raffle. In Chicago, during the 1950’s you couldn’t be much more publicly Catholic than that!

She was a charitable and helpful person, willing to do just about anything for anybody. She loved little babies, she loved her family and she loved her food. Gene was also a bit “quirky” – holding to her own opinions on certain things, in spite of obvious and abundant evidence to the contrary – stubbornly clinging to certain mysterious habits, rituals and personal preferences. It wasn’t always easy figuring out precisely what she meant, when she was speaking. But she was my aunt and I loved her, without qualification or exception. That’s what family is all about.

It wasn’t until several decades later, after aunt Gene had been diagnosed with a particularly fast-growing strain of lung cancer, that I would begin to understand the true depth and utter practicality of her Catholic faith.

Learning that all available treatments had failed and she would surely die very soon, Gene remained upbeat and generally unconcerned. She certainly didn’t like what the cancer had done and was continuing to do to her body, but as a woman of faith, she always knew the end would come – whatever the circumstances – and she had always relied on Jesus Christ and his Catholic Church to keep her fully prepared for that day.

She was a true daughter of the Catholic Church who fully accepted (to the very best of her ability) all that the Catholic Church practiced and proclaimed. She had for a long, long time now, been a very close friend of Jesus Christ in the Holy Eucharist and of his Blessed Mother, so she had absolutely nothing to fear.

Aunt Gene also found great solace in this type of traditional Catholic stuff which many today – unfortunately – think is out of date. But unless and until death itself goes out of style, I must respectfully disagree!

She told me all this the day before she died. It was a life (and faith) lesson that I will never forget. I also have little doubt that her prayers were answered – both here – and in the next life. We should all pray for similar graces.

So … how does Pope Francis remind me of my “sainted” Aunt Genevieve?

Other than the physical resemblance (they could pass for brother and sister) they’re both a bit quirky and sometimes difficult to understand; neither ever married; both had a penchant for relatively unusual, minimalist living arrangements; both made extensive use of public transportation; both are well-traveled; both worked long and hard at their chosen professions; both are by virtue of baptism, undeniably Catholic and people of faith.

As such, they are both “family” to me, a fellow Catholic and adopted child of God – so I love them, without qualification or exception.

This would remain true even if it became necessary for me to go out of my way to charitably correct, defend and/or explain occasional incongruous, irrational, embarrassing conduct or “quirky” personal opinions.

Nobody’s perfect – so who am I to judge – right?

In the end, that’s what “family” – and authentic Catholicism – is all about!

Photo: Wikipedia


  1. A truly inspired allegory that makes a trenchant point in just the right way.



  2. Well. I’m thinking about Christ’s words about who puts father and mother first ‘is not worthy’ of Him. It does seem to cover casting an ameliorating eye on family foibles, especially when they affect millions and millions of souls — which Gene did not, but Francis does. It’s gotta be the truth, Doug. Isn’t that the main thing? Did Gene ever say to the family that all good atheists go to heaven? That it was uncool to judge homosexual acts? That we should do everything to help the poor of the world *except* to call for a society in which God was recognized, in which Christ, and therefore justice, was King (the one thing the poor need above all). In Gene you’re forgiving maybe a little kitchy taste in piety, altho I myself like what she gave you–I think I spelled kitchy wrong–or maybe a few quirky verbal habits, or maybe plucking her ear hairs at the table. Not the same that we’re being nudged to forgive in Francis. Beyond embarrassing. It’s manifest heresy.


    • Agreed. But we’ve had plenty of nastiness lately. If we hope to help straighten out the pope’s act, we’re going to have to do it charitably and respectfully. Otherwise, nobody is going to hear anything above the noise. Thinking of Francis as a grumpy old uncle from South America with a few rough edges and a some strange ideas about things, works for me. Come to think of it – I HAVE a South American uncle like that – only he’s Cuban! Treating this like a family issue keeps everything in proper perspective and it also keeps my negative emotions in check – which is always a good thing. But we’ll see what happens! Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your cogent thoughts and opinions.



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