Thursday, October 6, 2011

Time for another (for lack of a better term) Catholic Rant

Recently, I read a piece discussing the possibility of a coming Schism within the Roman Catholic church, between those who feel we have lost our way since Vatican II, and those who feel, we are losing our way by correcting any abuses  that came from misunderstandings or deliberate reinterpretations from Vatican II. It also discussed people pulling away because the Catholicism they wanted to practice, did not fit within the confines of a singular political ideology.

I thought about the idea of the Church becoming smaller, and it pained me.  I thought about people walking away from the Church, remaking the liturgy in their own image and that hurt too.  I wondered, what was it that made the left and the right so angry; and it seemed so simple, that they were not the only, and that they mistook themselves for the whole body of Christ and saw the rest as to be discarded, lopped off as not part of what is the Universal church.  The humorist in me thought, if you aren't irritating someone with your Catholicism, you're probably doing it wrong. 

We are the great condundrum of the world, We believe in a God who becomes man and is still God, a God who suffers, who loves of all things, us.  We believe in both justice and mercy, not an either or,  in ending capital punishment and abortion, in the redemptive value of both the Republican and the Democrat, in purgatory, Heaven and yes, Hell.  We know we have the capacity to get ourselves to only one place absent God's grace, and that it is only by having a relationship with God, that the other two are available as possibilities. 

As Catholics, we have long thinkers about everything.  We believe people should wait until marriage for sex, and then be open to the possibilities for children.  We're fallen ergo, we're very limited in our understanding, so much more limited than we think. So when we are full of feeling and self, it is fortunate that we have this long history, this long great story of all the stories of faith to fall back on, to see that what we think now is not so different, so alien from all that has come before. 

It is folly to assume our mere existence validates our opinions over the likes of Saint Thomas Moore, Saint Augustin, Saint Thomas Aquaintas, Blessed Mother Theresa, Saint Catherine of Sienna, Saint Francis of Assissi, Blessed Pope John Paul the Great, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, Saint Matthew, Saint Mark, Saint Luke, Saint John, Saint Joan of Arc, Saint Padre Pio, Saint Katherine Drexel, Saint Edith Stein, Saint Maximilian Kobe and all the other saints that could make this the longest blog entry in Blogger history. The collective wisdom of 2000+ years of people of good will, diamond type faith that has been battle tested, and ratified through trial, examination and study, ought to trumph our google's worth of understanding of anything about how one lives life, in this or any other century.

It does not matter what the topic is; some want women priest, some want contraception not to be a sin, some want only Latin masses, some want whatever it is they do, to be ratified as right, some want the Church to only do one thing; whatever that is; but whatever it is that the individuals want, it is a single thread of the cloak of Catholicism, as versus the whole garment. Some want to pull out threads, others to add new ones, still others to cut everything up and start anew stiching an outfit that looks nothing like what has come before.  Every thread of every life that has become part of the Catholic story reveals something of the greater story of our faith.  We have deathbed converts and cradle Catholics, martyrs and hermits and every walk of life from every flavor of the world.  We have saints that were great sinners first, great warriors, great leaders, saints that were lawyers, Kings, widows, Queens, mothers of many, and even children.  So we ought to consider our history stronger, our story longer than the mere trials of the moment. 

But we also perpetually froget that we are  a fallen people.  It is human nature to be limited in capacity to see, to hear, to say, to think, to understand, to give and to love. We always want less than what God wants for us. We always love less than God; we always love less than God created us to love, we always limit our love, we always try (unsuccessfully) to limit God's love, to name the terms. The Church is right on this issue, but way way way off on that, it is the Holy Spirit speaking through Saint Paul here, but not here, here he is a victim of the time in which he lives and the culture. We do not understand beyond ourselves except through grace, except through the Holy Spirit burning away our pride, our preconceptions, our capacity to self decieve and mistake our feelings and wants, passions and politics for wisdom. If we understand that saintliness of the soul is available to all who want to love God with the whole heart, we will not need to believe in miracles.  We will know there are miracles, 1000 miracles in a life on any given day, and so we will march bravely forward with great hope in our chests.  But we think we lack that mustard seed so we will not even test the waters on which were we to fully trust in Christ, we could walk to Him.

But I see signs everywhere of great fire, of great faith, of great passion for God.  And I see it most in the growing more crowded pews, and the returning again and again despite everything of the faithful.

So I do not believe there will be a schism, despite the calcification of souls, despite the agitation on the right and the left for smaller vessels that more reflect them than Christ.  I trust the Holy Spirit will help shape what is to come.  While there may be splinterings from the cross, I do not think they will stand the test of time, they will irritate as splinters do.  I think people sometimes confuse their own staleness of faith with the reality of the Church. The church is not a floaty tranquil easy place, it is a building within our hearts that brings joy through service, peace through love, and grace to weather what would otherwise be, an unbearable life.  The tranquilty and peace come from love which is active, rather than as an innate part of the package, which is boring.  God will not let us become dullards in our faith without a fight.

But going back to the idea of a schism, I sat there considering, "What sliver of Catholicism could I surrender?" and the answer was none.


Adrienne said...

The problem is people are not reading the wisdom of all those wonderful saints and doctors of the Church you listed. They are having their ears "tickled" by people who do not have the best interests of the Church on their radar.

I have complete faith the Holy Spirit has things well in hand (wing?) :-)

love the girls said...

The schism isn't a radical rending, but a slowly progressing separation which has been taking place for a number of years.

The radicals have in places separated themselves, but the real problem are the everyday Catholics who see themselves as the final arbiter of the Faith by choosing contraception and similar while knowing what the Church teaches.

It's a schism of the heart, very american where we think we can have it both ways, and as a practical matter do have it both ways.

The bishops will appear to rule, while the everyday Catholics will show up at mass while otherwise doing as they please.

Colleen said...

Amen. Thanks.

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