Sunday, October 7, 2012

Mystics or Nothing

Eureka Street has an interesting article today from a great Australian Jesuit, Michael Kelly, on the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. "As my recently deceased spiritual guide, Peter Steele, would never tire of saying: 'There are only two conditions in the spiritual life — you're either growing or you're dying,'" he begins, and goes on to consider how the Church has grown (or died) in the last 50 years. 

I'm not sure I agree with all of it, particularly the at-this-point standard interpretation of Benedict as happy with just a "faithful remnant" for the Church.  It's true, he made a comment like that before becoming Pope. But I haven't seen much evidence of him pursuing that idea as Pope. If anything, he's welcomed back some groups that people have had a hard time accepting

But it's a great article to think about.  

Something it provokes in me: could it be possible on some level that the diminishment of people in the pews is not a bad thing? That it's a signpost of something changing in the way people want to experience God, or of how they understand Eucharist? I don't want to say it's not a loss -- the Eucharist is our primary in our faith and our sense of our community.  I'm just  trying to play the sociologist and understand what people are saying with the choices they're making, particularly those who would continue to self-identify as Catholics.  I might not like the choice they're making, but can I learn from it?  As a great poet once wrote "Christ plays in ten thousand places..." I'd like to know about as many of them as I can. 


Anonymous said...

Having just left a conversation with a colleague about why she left the Church, I can say some people feel driven out the door, not so much by Benedict, but by their local bishops. I'm standing on the threshold myself, having been offered the choice of telling my child I think he is disordered and not fully realized as a human being or receiving the Eucharist. The bishop would like me to say that what science knows (that human sex is not a binary, not everyone is XX or XY) is not true, that we are male and female and nothing else. My integrity is lost either way I go, it's a modern form of martyrdom - torn apart, not by lions, but by forces in and out of the Church.

It's not a change for me in how I want to experience God, or how I understand Eucharist, it's simply a painful place of faith, Christ playing here as Christ crucified.

Carol said...

I know of at least two couples who have somehow managed to resolve their irregular marriage situation via the "internal forum," and quite frankly, I'm happy for them. Both couples have members who survived brutally abusive first marriages but were unable to secure annulments. They were both able to find decent spouses later in life. I don't feel comfortable going into the particulars in each case, but quite frankly, it seems the Church, in its pastoral role, needs to address people who are in such situations but don't "qualify" for annulments based on what was going on at the time they married. I doubt that a first marriage could go that bad without something being disordered at the very onset, regardless of whether the tribunal can identify it. Furthermore, I can't see how two middle-aged people living in peace "gives scandal," where an abusive marriage can be considered "sacramental." "Sacrilegious" is the word that comes immediately to mind, in my opinion.

There are plenty of Catholics who feel much the same way, yet consider themselves good Catholics. Maybe it's bad catechesis, or maybe it's sensitivity to the real life nitty-gritty realities that confront so many people. I have seen some attempt made to outreach to battered spouses, and count that as a hopeful start to a faith-friendly and intelligent response to these suffering sisters and brothers in Christ. More needs to be done.

Jim McDermott, S.J. said...

I just want to thank you both for your comments. They express a lot of wisdom and a lot of truth. And Anonymous, I wonder a bit about the decision before you. I don't believe that a parent is under any obligation to denounce or judge their child in order to receive Communion. In fact I would say that's absolutely not the case. If you want to talk about this further, let me know. I could put you in touch with some very very good canon lawyers or moral theologians.

Thank you both again.

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