Monday, 4 February 2008

Where do we go from here ?

We're in trouble....

Yesterday my absolutely bloody wonderful parish priest gave a sermon :

[Now, before I go on, let me explain what I mean by bloody wonderful ; He isn't a great theologian, he isn't exactly au fait with liturgical praxis [I'm sure father Z would be pulling his hair out with his masses - always eucharistic prayer II ; he removed the altar rails, had us standing for communion, emphasised communion in the hand , etc ; for a while he attempted to renovate the church to a side-on position [it failed] ; he has no concern for music or hymns whatsoever; he has eucharistic ministers everywhere, the altar severs are a mess ; and when it comes to rubrics he's allowed [at times] the laity to read the gospel or preach etc ; we've had general absolution, we've had significant changes in mass times etc - all the things that the orthodox traditionalists get their knickers in a knot about {and yes these initiatives have distressed me over the years too} but this isn't my point...]
...so there's a few bloggers around who will be reaching for the vallium and their brown scapulars; he's very much a priest of his times....but there's a great difference]

He's sincere !
He believes - and what's more than that ; whenever he preaches he speaks of the Gospel in the way it affects the human condition and it's spiritual heritage and destiny - he emphasises that we are weak and failing , but there is always hope in Christ....
I know of no other priest who can give a more heartrending , understanding, empathic and authentically catholic funeral homily....
He's not the most affable or sociable person - he's quite shy and distant - he's not jokey or friendly except amongst a very select few....but here's the rub
In the confessional he not only listens and hears ; he consoles ; he acknowledges the sin, but he is, to use the new 'psychobabbling self-help' speak , 'there for' the penitent ; when the absolution is given ; Christ is truly among us - and he makes it known....
he is exceedingly charitable to the point of impoverishing himself ; he opened his presbytery to a family when it was made homeless ; when he was seriously ill he sent his little savings to an eastern european hospital as he wouldn't be going on holiday and wouldn't need it...

Ostensibly to the world , the disgruntled unappreciative parish, the negligent diocese, the episcopal hierarchy, the professional laity, the 'oh so orthodox and ritually precise' blogosphere...
...this priest is an unmitigated failure.

The weird thing about it is - he isn't ! God walks very close by where he goes [and if you told him that he would be the last to believe you - he'll console and advise and take the burden and share the crosses of hundreds of parishioners behind the scenes - but to look at him or listen to him you'd never believe it - because he puts on an air of aloofness - except when he preaches and the understanding, the pain, the devotion to God through his love of neighbour - shines through like a beacon on the highest peak in the land...yet this priest is probably the humblest person I have ever known.... In the world's eyes , to be honest in most of the quarters of the church , be they left, right, orthodox, liberal, progressive, traditionalist whatever - they would all adjudge him as deeply lacking....
Yet when this priest shuffles off this mortal coil he will ascend to heaven in a Golden Chariot;
and you know why ?
because he loves God , and even amidst all his fear and insecurity and social gaucheness, he loves his neighbour - and in shadows and the secrecy of the confessional or on the telephone consoling until the wee small hours ,or behind the closed doors of the bereaved and mourning, the battered wife, the distraught parent etc - he's there !

He believes, he's sincere, and he cares.... and if a tiniest fraction of the clergy cared even half as much as he; the world would be an entirely different place...]

Now the sermon was based on the second reading [1 Cor 1] :

26 For consider your call, brethren; not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth; 27* but God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, 28* God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29* so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30* He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom, our righteousness and sanctification and redemption; 31* therefore, as it is written, "Let him who boasts, boast of the Lord."

...and the sermon was on our disillusionment with the world ; our frustration and disappointment with ourselves and our neighbour - man's inhumanity to man, the incredulous violence and intolerance and bigotry and neglect....
His conclusion was ultimately that no we cannot boast in ourselves; but we have been graced with something infinitely more precious - being called, chosen by God ; and being graced with the opportunity to 'Boast in The Lord'.

While I was listening something surged in my very being - the closest thing I can say is something 'yawned' deep within me - I've spent weeks/ months castigating the establishment, the post-vatican II church, our reprehensible conference of bishops, our bloody awful clergy who don't give two hoots, I've launched personal attacks on His Eminence the cardinal of westminster and assorted members of the tabletista and professional clerical/lay mafia and their morally and doctrinally lax agenda that has decimated the church - and I must have accrued many hours at the pc commenting /debating/arguing about the replacement of our sorely lacking archbishop of westminster ; and I am so ashamed; because this is simply NOT what it's all about....

We're lost, we're rudderless, we're utterly disenfranchised , neglected, abandoned...
Our churches are emptying en masse, our priests have most definitely not been adequately educated or trained for their roles , our children have been cast to the four winds in regard to their catechesis and instruction...our parishes are desiccated as a hollow wind runs through them - and the profligate spendthrifts in the church administration and positions of power and authority are declaring all these new initiatives, programmes and missions to revitalise and 'renew' an allegedly 'thriving church' while they systemically shut down churches and schools ; selling them off to the highest bidder in order to pay for their wasteful ways...
Doctrine and Morality ? Where is the message of the Gospel to be found in the majority of contemporary publications ?
No, rather they are narcissistic exercises in self-promotion and vanity which destroy age old Truths and replace them with pragmatism, situationism , relativism and an abject conspiracy with the secular...

Even our orthodox authors, intellectuals and academics - what are their publications ?
take a look - a good look ! All those geniuses we laud - write a great deal on the liturgy, or the history of reformation england or nineteenth century 'Newmania' or the lives of certain renowned clerics from the past ; if they write on theology it will be commentaries on certain theologians or certain individual theologian's viewpoints on the contemporary church.
Even now we're in the process of applauding Fr Aidan Nichols - a cardinabile - a von balthasar [my hero] acolyte and commentator - and his soon to be published new agenda for what needs to be done in the 21st century british church...from what has been mentioned so far ; he spends a great deal of time saying 'what must be done' and gives very little acknowledgment as to 'HOW' it will be done....

We know we're in a state of civil war in this country - and a significant amount of the enemies of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church are actually within it ; and in positions where they can implement what they desire their 'image of church' to be....something very different from the authentic Mystical Body of Christ - Our Church Militant.

So how do we fight ? These people may be our ideological enemies, our doctrinal and moral enemies ; but they are our neighbour - and despite the urge to take a whip to them and their corrupting despicable ways [even if well meaning and of the best deluded intention - they are ultimately destructive and beneficial to nobody] - we are called to love them, to cherish them, and to do our best for them - the more I read Fr Aidan's 'initiative' for reform I become terrified of the potential consequences...because there is very little consideration of them and the way they will affect those involved - whether there will be defiance and refusal to follow these propositions ; or whether there will be a submissive compliance without any real change of heart - no authentic metanoia....merely 'relenting externally' to remain in positions of authority or to 'bend with the prevailing wind' - [remember the ultra lefty young trotskyites who grew up to be the draconian anti-libertarian right wing new Labourites ?]
we are in so much trouble already - will we be able to suffer the slings and arrows to come ?
the hurt, the scarring, the vituperative, malicious battles and power-struggles which will ensue...

We know it has to come - we know His Holiness and his message of Hope and authentic Love cannot simply afford to allow this to continue - the price is too high not to intervene at every level - but if we are not ready to understand that we are doing this for the good of everyone [come on, be honest - you know as well as I that a lot of us feel some self-righteous vindication and desire for revenge and retribution against the prevailing present 'inner ring' - we've waited, we've spent decades biding our time and hoping for a return to catholic authenticity and orthodoxy and a coherent rational Natural law/ God's manifestation in Human Love-centred morality ; a liturgy which wasn't half debacle/half sacrilegious travesty....a time when our kids are taught real catholic truths and real catholic ethics and true catholic example...]

..if we are not ready or mature enough to acknowledge that this has to be done out of Love not just for God, but for our neighbour who is diammetrically opposed to us....
we're going to get nowhere....basically I think I'm saying that it is never enough to be right, it is never enough to be 'just or fair' , it is never enough to just love our enemy ;
our enemy needs to know that there is no need for animosity , they need to know why they are wrong [irrespective of their best intentions] need to be aware that charity and mercy and forgiveness go beyond all demands for justice; and more than anything - our enemy needs to know that even when we are fighting - that they are loved and love is the source of this fight...
We're all in for a bumpy ride...

God's will be done. Pray for Us sinners.

3 comments:

Recusant said...

You're right: it will be tough. But it needs to be done. I have absolutely no desire for revenge or retribution and would delight if those, well intentioned but destructive, individuals would join in the renewal. But renewal there must be.

In essence, it is very simple. However, we all know that true simplicity is very complicated to achieve. We need to concentrate on what we are - Catholics in England - and do everything, and no more, that aids and enhances Catholicism in England. That means ceasing to set ourselves up as alternative institutes for social work, or world peace, or climate change evangelism, ecumenical enablement, or, or, etc..

At its most basic, what normal man would want to become a priest if what is on offer is to be some sort of underpaid minion of the DHSS? And why would a young woman want to become a nun if what it is is being a social worker who can't date?

the mother of this lot said...

I was enthralled reading this - I have been feeling the same way myself recently.

(Also, I had no idea my parish priest had the gift of bi-location)!

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

I've been struggling with this a bit too. It's why I haven't joined Holy Smoke; I was afraid of what I might say!
I look at my children and realise that whereas many of my protestant friends can rely on back-up from pasters and fellow church goers-I am on my own in trying to teach my kids the Faith.
I am quite fond of my PP but he is a broken man who would never be able to lead the way on this. He's afraid.
Libs rule and the 'trads' strut their holier than thou spite.
I can't stand ANY of it. It's painful, very, very painful.
Fr Aidan Nichols looks like a little light in the darkness.