Saturday, April 6, 2013

Just Think

The readings for Holy Mass on this Saturday within the Octave of Easter (Acts 4:13-21 and Mark 16:9-15) challenged me to think again about the task of evangelizing or re-evangelizing, of what is termed the new evangelization. Coincidence presented me two leisurely evenings during the Octave with a number of diplomatic colleagues here in Kyiv, not many of them Catholic, but all of them most attentive, and respectfully so, to the media experience of the Catholic Church the last weeks have provided. Their questions and input were additions to a tempest of thoughts and certainly also of emotions in my own head and heart.

I've got questions, some of which are direct challenges to me, yes, even this late in life! What responsibility do I bear for that fact that there are not apt to be many baptisms or good confessions coming out of the experience which has gripped a bigger world's attention since February 11? If I were bolder, say like Peter and John in Acts, in giving testimony to the Risen Christ living and victorious in His Church today, would it be otherwise? In the intimate circle of His followers, Jesus Risen from the Dead rebuked those who had been closest to Him before His Passion for "their unbelief and hardness of heart"... and I, what is my modus operandi, being one caught up in the mystery? Am I a real believer?

For the how-to of that one, I keep coming back to the disciples' question to the Master as to whether those who are to be saved are many and Jesus' answer/invitation to them to get going, to make haste and try themselves to enter by the narrow door. There is no escaping judgment; not everyone is going to be herded into the eternal security of the heavenly sheepfold: "sheep" will be separated from "goats". I have no doubts about when the invitation to choose the road less traveled is explained, then its proper icon will not be the overcrowded and joyous St. Peter's Square of the Church in festival. Personal conversion certainly is urgent, but no less so acting to throw a lifeline to that world around me hurtling towards hell.

Pusillus grex: What sort of expectations did the Cardinals of the Church have in mind a month ago as they were going about their deliberations in preparation for the Conclave which elected Pope Francis? Were they really dissatisfied with the way things were going in the Church? Or is maybe all that journalistic shorthand for a zeal for God's House, which not everybody understands? Many out there in the blogosphere are trying to put the pieces together, to focus people basically distracted; theirs is the good fight again and again to read the continuity into what the media is presenting as novelty or discontinuity/rupture. Too many are without memory, fixing on this or that which is pointed out to them as novelty or decisive change, attending to wordcrafters unable to escape the logic of a scoop or whatever they call it today. It is hard for me many times not to think that "the opposition" has hijacked a beautiful experience of the Church discerning, by misinterpreting the work of the Cardinals under the guidance of the Holy Spirit and leaving us with red shoes and a hunk of fake ermine.

Pusillus grex: No doubt the scandal provoked by Jesus' description of Himself as the Living Bread brings a parting of ways amongst Catholics and younger Churches around the world must face the prospect of failing to absorb or fend off the barbarian tide. Tattoos, piercings, feathers and body-paint continue popular, especially in the so-called secularized western world. The dream-makers have done little other than put to the side briefly their shopping list of demands for unacceptable deformations of Christ's Church and His Will. They know there is gain simply in accenting the arbitrary and thereby undermining the faith in the Divine origins and destiny of Christ's Bride, the Church.

My hope is that this too will pass and that in the meantime some/lots of catechism will be studied, that children and adults will learn their prayers and start praying at home (for starters at meals and bedtime). That a sick-call Crucifix will make a prominent appearance again in every home, with the added recognition of that for which it is there. In this Year of Faith, I am hopeful that we can stem the barbarian tide and even clean up for Sunday a few of the horde, if not many.


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