Tuesday, May 1, 2012
99% OF PRACTICING CATHOLICS, DO THEY CARE ABOUT THIS STUFF OR IS IT A DISTRACTION FOR THE 1% WHO DO?
I know as a priest I want to be pastoral to my parishioners. Many of them have very messy lives and simply want to find some peace, direction and love in their lives, not necessarily from the Church(meaning us poor miserable sinners) but from God where coming together with poor miserable sinners, God is made present, especially in the Sacraments and in the Most Blessed Sacrament. It really is all about God. Community is important, but most of us find that in a variety of places, not just Church, but in the Catholic Church we find God, so the vertical aspect of the Catholic Church trumps the horizontal because fixating on the horizontal always leads to some kind of disappointment, because, (and this is a big secret folks, so let's just keep this between us) Catholics are a sinful bunch of people and not very nice because of it!
Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn said some things to his priests (about 400 of whom are actively disobedient toward him and the Holy Father) at his Chrism Mass during Holy Week that are true and applicable even in little old Macon, Georgia"
In his chrism Mass sermon on April 2, the Monday of Holy Week, he offered his own Jesus-solution on how priests can cope with three of the most problematic situations confronting them in their pastoral work today:
1. The large number of people, including many young, conservative Catholics, who cohabit without being married;
2. The large number of divorced people who remarry;
3. The increasing number of same-sex partnerships.
“We priests usually give up when we are faced with complete incomprehension at what the church teaches about marriage and abstinence, proliferation and indissolubility. ... There is only one way, the way his disciples learned: get to know Jesus himself better, grow into his friendship,” Cardinal Schönborn told his priests. Priests should learn to walk the tightrope between canon law and true mercy as Jesus practiced it by asking themselves what Jesus would have done in each problematic situation and then following in his footsteps, the cardinal said."
As a pastor, the tightrope that I walk is calling people to holiness (which includes Catholic morality in many areas and not just sexual morality, but sexual morality is the most personal and intimate type of morality because sexual morality goes to the core of who we are, doesn't it?).
About 99.9% of my parishioners and the priests I know have imperfect lives. They rely upon God to assist them and to make up what is lacking in their moral lives. They rely upon the Church to teach them what perfection is and how our lives will be in heaven. As far as I can tell, heaven is pure union with God who is all holy and we will be chaste, not marrying or being married and we won't be pro-creating. So whatever one's state in live, we are called to chastity (fidelity, first to God and then to our spouses and fidelity to natural law whether we are single of married). Therein lies the rub, the easiest way to sin is to sin sexually in thought, word and deed!
Thus the sacrament of penance gives us the grace of desiring perfection, relying upon God's mercy and recognizing that the salvation of our souls as with our bodies occurs over time and not instantly and even needs some time of purification in purgatory.
Are we impatient or do we want to change the meaning of natural law, divine law, and what sin is to make us perfect prematurely? Which brings me back to my point, is perfection all about perfect structures in the Church that only 1% of Catholics obsess on and castigate others for not implementing their perfect solution or is perfection about moral perfection of the individual and that 99% of Catholics who practice their faith seek meaning, purpose and grace to figure out just where is God leading them (heaven of course and its perfection). Just wondering.