Friday, August 5, 2011

Becoming Whole

In all families, civil wars occasionally erupt.  Brother against sister, North versus South, Republicans with Democrats, and even within the Catholic church itself; Catholics fight to divide what should be seamless. 

On the right, there are those who advocate a conservative close as possible to pre-Vatican II re adoption of the rules, (Kneeling only), (Women should be modest by only wearing dresses), (Latin Liturgy) and on the left, the progressive social justice crowd (works matter more than prayer or sacraments), (morals cannot be imposed or enforced but must only be discerned, meaning Saints, popes, the bible and priests are not sources of moral authority) (sacraments aren't much more than traditions that have been handed down that have created a particular culture from adopting tenets of older cultures).  All of us fall on one side or the other of that bell curve that is the total body of the Holy Catholic Church. 

The two sides in their totality can be easily spotted by the blogs and newspapers and magazines they prefer. But there's a problem with both renderings of Catholicism, neither is Catholicism.   We cannot erase half and declare ourselves whole.

We keep forgetting, Christ was both; God and man.

We are called to be like Christ.

Ergo, we are to hold sacred the gifts of the Church, her princes, the sacraments, her teachings (all of them), her relics, her traditions, her beautiful churches and her prayers, novenas, traditions and liturgical seasons.

We also are to act as if every person around us is Christ in disguise: the gay, the leper, the immigrant, the homeless, the mentally ill, the old, the disabled, the rich, the poor, the famous, the infamous, the lonely, the leaders of a political party we don't like, the radio or television talk show hosts we disagree with, the show offs, the corrupt, the prisoners and the judges, the living, the dying, the pregnant mother, the unborn child, the abortionist and the people who pray outside the clinic. There is no one, not one sinner we are not called to love.  

Christ tells us in so many of his acts in real life and in parables: We are admonished not to throw stones.  We are also commanded to go and sin no more.  We are the prodigal son and the older brother, we are Martha and Mary, we are those who wept on the road to Calvary and those who shouted "Crucify him!"  We are part of that crowd of 5000+ who received the loaves and fishes, we are also part of those who led Him off to die. 

No one should feel comfortable if they are to be Catholic. 

No one should look at that list and not at some point gulp and know that here or there, they missed the mark.  We all have a "Surely not I" moment or "Surely God doesn't mean that." There is something on the list somewhere, be it abortion, birth control, ordination of only men, selling everything and giving to the poor, taking up one's cross, washing the feet of others, going to weekly mass and to regular confession, being charitable towards some group of others, being more loving and more meek and serving than one feels, that we in our fallen flawed state rejects. 

We will have reasonable reasons and we will seek to soothe ourselves that we are only being reasonable, practical, and that God understands because He is merciful.  We will also presume that God appreciates how we are right and those other folks, be they right, left, perpetually slothful or overly mercilessly vigilant lack understanding and charity.

We have trouble because we think one must chose between Mercy and Justice.
We have trouble because we think Heaven will be peopled with people like us, or that Hell doesn't exist. 
Heaven will be peopled with people like Christ.  Hell will be peopled with people who refuse, and Purgatory will be overflowing with those of us who have not yet surrendered that part of ourselves that isn't like Christ, that refuses to exercise both charity and truth, prayer and service, to be both Martha and Mary to those around us. 

One side holds on to symbols and rigidity of custom, that truth is rooted in the past, the other views everything as fluid and subject to the fashionable philosophic musings of the day.  We shortchange our own hearts and minds with moral and mental blinders that let us only view one faucet of Him.

This is the cure to all our squabbles, to all our strife.

We have the body and blood of Christ.  Christ's essence, like the Church's essence, is solid, is real, is always the bread that becomes the body.  We do not get to cut the consecrated host we consume. We must take it all, in full knowledge that we are forever not worthy to receive, but by God's mercy, God's love, we are allowed.  Christ's blood is fluid, but it is always wine that becomes his sacred blood.  Likewise, we are to pour ourselves out to others beyond what we thought possible.  

We aren't called to be at ease with ourselves, only at peace. We are called to trust in Christ's mercy but to work with the full knowledge that we must serve and serve and serve and still, we will not be worthy of this great gift. On our own, our hearts are too small to hold all of Christ, so we must allow our hearts to be broken open by God, by others, by life until we have hearts with no walls.

Christ is present, in a sacred and profound mysterious way that only can be found within the mass, within the sacraments. To be Catholic, it is not all tradition or social justice.  To be Catholic, one must simply love the Eucharist above all else. It is the sole reason for being Catholic; it is only availble within the Catholic church.  If one begins this journey, to love the Eucharist, serve Him that is the Eucharist will follow. Everything else that you do, say, think and believe will follow and eventually be reordered and tempered by that fierce devotion to our Lord and become as Christ would say, as Christ would do.

Perhaps this is why Adoration is on the rise, because all of us are seeking to become whole, and know our own pitiful interpretations of our faith miss the mark.  Our whole objective in being Catholic, is to become less us, more Him.   Our whole reason for being Catholic, is to know Christ as intimately as possible, such that each of us puts ourself out to others the way He did for us so that we do not judge but love, we do not condemn but instead nurse, and we forgive.  We speak truth and speak truth and speak truth, mindful of Christ's full holding to even the last letter of the law and we forgive and forgive and forgive, mirroring Christ's mercy and complete fulfillment of those laws as they were intended, to bring us into communion with Him. 

Left and Right, Liberal and Conservative, these are adjectives and in the end, they fall away. To be Catholic is to be the Eucharist for others.

1 comment:

amanda said...

Well said, thank you.

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