Monday, June 17, 2013
POPE FRANCIS: LOWER DEFENCES AND OPEN DOORS
Recently Pope Francis told personnel of the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica (Catholic Civilization), which is published in Italian from Rome to build bridges, not walls all the while remaining faithful to Holy Mother Church and her Magisterium, meaning the pope and the bishops in union with him.
He used three words for them to accomplish this task: dialogue, discernment, and frontier.
1. Dialogue: Through dialogue it is always possible to get closer to the truth, which is a gift of God, and to enrich one another.” Pope Francis reiterated that dialogue means “being convinced that the other has something good to say, making room for their point of view, their opinion, their proposals, without falling, of course, into relativism. For dialogue [to exist] it is necessary to lower the defences and open the doors.”
2. Discernment: Seeks to recognize the Spirit of God's presence in human and cultural reality, the seed already planted by his presence in events, feelings, desires, in the deep tensions of our hearts and in social, cultural, and spiritual contexts.”
Mentioning Fr. Matteo Ricci, S.J., as an example, Francis observed that it is necessary to keep open hearts and minds and to avoid the spiritual illness of self-referentiality. Even the Church, when it becomes self-referential, gets sick and old. May our gaze, well fixed upon Christ, always be prophetic and dynamic towards the future. In this way you will always remain young and daring in your reading of events!”
3. Frontier: Be men of the frontier, with that qualification that comes from God. In today's world, which is subject to quick changes and is shaken by questions of great importance for the life of faith, it is urgent to have a courageous commitment to educating a convinced and mature faith that is capable of giving meaning to life and of giving convincing answers to those in search of God. This means sustaining the Church's activity in all the areas of her mission.
MY COMMENTS: At the risk of being self-referential, aren't blogs, like this one, a way to dialogue with people of different perspectives. I would like to welcome different points of view, but sometime those who comment go after people rather than debate ideas or worse yet, want to run off those with differing perspectives. How can we dialogue with those who are different than us when we want to shut them down? Please, folks, be civil, critique ideas, not people, debate and dialogue.
In terms of discernment, how do we live with a culture that seems to be diametrically opposed to the Church and her God and yet there is some good? The whole "gay" debate for example isn't just about evil but people of good will trying to make life better for those of same sex orientation. Keep in mind, that even 20 years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a priest and Catholics to speak of helping those with gender confusion or same sex attraction to know that they are loved by God. Do we use language that pushes our young people away or attracts them to Christ.
For example, our young people who are heterosexual do not like seeing their friends who have same sex attractions derided or marginalized by a generation that is fearful of homosexuality and overrates their negative effect on society. Our young people have a live and let live policy. How do we uphold the Church's teaching and yet dialogue with culture and yet remain faithful to Christ?
In terms of the sexual orientation wars, Fr. Dawid our Parochial Vicar was a panelist on the topic at Mercer University and clearly presented a position at odds with most in the audience, yet the experience was respectful and Fr. Dawid was able to get the Church's teachings discussed and in a positive way and was able to challenge the prejudices of the audience in a positive way. He could have stayed away and no Catholic perspective would have been heard and in a positive way.
How do we effectively go to the frontier? We Catholics who live in the south have always been a minority. Thus we have to live with a religious culture quite different than our own. Today's religious culture has changed greatly even in the south and secularism is more of a religion than being a Southern Baptist.
Let me share with you my vision of moving forward in today's Church. Liturgically I do believe in a certain amount of pluralism. I am all in favor of the reform in continuity that Pope Benedict kicked into high gear but I don't want to go back to the rigid authoritarianism of the 1950's when adult laity were treated as children and kept infantile. I don't want to be so wrapped up in robotic rubrics that humanity is stamped out in the actions of the priest and assembly for Mass.
What I love about Pope Benedict's reform in continuity is that he made us feel good again about our religious heritage and that what preceded the Second Vatican Council had overwhelming good with some dark spots. And isn't that true today, especially with the major problems in the Roman Curia and yes, in the post-Vatican II Church?
So I love the EF Mass but I love the OF Mass and realize that the OF Mass is going to be the Mass that most Catholics love and prefer. But the OF Mass needs the solemnity and reverence of the EF Mass even with its noble simplicity and encouragement of verbal and sung participation--it wouldn't take much to make the OF Mass more in continuity with the EF from which it morphed. This is desirable. Going forward with this means we might make some mistakes, ruffle some feathers, even the bishop's feathers, but forward we must go, not backwards to a time prior to the EF's liberalization or the reform of the reform.