Monday, August 10, 2009

What's going on?

A long digression... (To use the words of the Pope regarding Caritas in veritate: "This may be hard to follow - I packed a lot in it".)
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Back in 1972, when I first returned to the Church, I had no greater respect for nuns, priests, and bishops than I had before my conversion when I considered myself anti-Catholic and non-Christian. In my mind, returning to the Church and the sacraments meant returning to Christ Himself. I was under no illusion whatsoever regarding the frail humanity of His ministers - though deserving of respect because they acted in persona Christi - I knew that they were still men and not angels or saints - with few exceptions. In other words, I was unable to shake off completely my anti-clerical tendencies and mistrust of authority, although I never let it get in the way of my search for God. Such impediments quickly dissipated as I became more and more devoted to the Mass and the sacraments, and found good, holy priests who guided me in the faith and prayer.
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I never got into debates about the liturgy or theology - I deliberately avoided all of that - although I frequently found it necessary to defend my attachment to liturgical prayer - the office, Catholic translations of Scripture, the Rosary and Eucharistic adoration, the sacrament of penance - all of that traditional pre-Vatican II stuff. (Remember - it was 1972.) I stayed away from the Wanderer types - since it seemed to me at the time - religion for them was so much about defending tradition against the changes of Vatican II. And yep, the progressives seemed all about denigrating the traditionalists. I stayed out of the fray - I preferred to pray. If a parish got too liberal, I went elsewhere. If some one invited me to get involved - personally or in a group... I moved on.
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What went wrong? How did I get here? How did I get sucked into the fray? What difference does my opinion make?
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Traditionally when one entered Carmel, or any strictly enclosed contemplative order, the person was gone - they disappeared behind the enclosure wall - they were 'hidden with Christ in God' - their discourse was no longer with the world - their conversation was in heaven. I always felt called to that, even as a layman. Theological and liturgical debates were for the experts - not me. But today everyone gets involved - and I got swept into it. I've lost my early love - I've sought myself and not Christ. I've left the interior enclosure and got caught up in worldly conversation. I've turned into Lot's wife - I've looked back at those perishing and my heart has turned to stone.
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I don't know how or why a Carmelite nun can have a blog. I don't know how or why cloistered monks and nuns surf the net. I don't know how or why people who claim to be religious without controlling their keyboard can keep blogging, posting on Facebook, twittering on Twitter. I don't know how religious people can go on attacking and tearing one another to pieces while claiming to be traditional, devout, and good. And I don't know why I do what I do either.
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Yeah. So. The pope encourages people to blog - to evangelize online. That makes it all okay then I suppose...
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"Yesterday I asked him whether Our Lord had more than one nature. He said: 'Just as many as you say, Father.' Then again I asked him: 'Supposing the Pope looked up and saw a cloud and said 'It's going to rain', would that be bound to happen?' 'Oh, yes, Father.' 'But supposing it didn't?' He thought a moment and said, "I suppose it would be sort of raining spiritually, only we were too sinful to see it.'" - Fr. Mowbray, Brideshead Revisited
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Moving on...
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Yesterday I got an email from a good friend asking advice about something 'ecumenical' - kinda, sorta. I responded saying, "Go ahead, the Pope gave Communion to Roger of Taize." My friend's dilemma was nothing as serious as all of that, although she responded that Roger had been baptized Catholic. I did not know that - although did you know all baptized Christians are baptized Catholic? Kinda, sorta - if the formula is Trinitarian and by water - it is the same - in kind - as Catholic baptism, if the person is received into the Church - the baptism is recognized. I'm not getting into any discussion on that, so save your keyboard.
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That is as Catholic as Roger's baptism got. The pope(s) did give him Communion however, which sent trads reeling. I didn't reel - but I did wonder about it. Therefore this morning I investigated further. Cardinal Kasper cleared up the controversy last year in an interview with Sandro Magister. (I'll print excerpts below - my apologies for such a long post - if you aren't interested in Br. Roger, suffice it to say the issue is what generated this post - I find it all very confusing and I've concluded I need to return to my 'simple regard' for Christ and let the politics in the Church play out without my input.)
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The issue at hand: Was Br. Roger Schutz Catholic? The Pope(s) seem to think so. As does Cardinal Kasper.
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"Born in a Reformed family, Brother Roger had studied theology and had become a pastor in that same Reformed tradition. When he spoke of “the faith of his origins,” he was referring to that beautiful blend of catechesis, devotion, theological formation and Christian witness received in the Reformed tradition. He shared that patrimony with all his brothers and sisters of Protestant affiliation, with whom he always felt himself deeply linked. Since his early years as a pastor, however, Brother Roger sought at the same time to nourish his faith and his spiritual life at the wellsprings of other Christian traditions, crossing certain confessional limits in doing so. His desire to follow a monastic vocation and to found for this purpose a new monastic community with Christians of the Reformation already said a lot about this search of his.
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As the years passed, the faith of the prior of Taizé was progressively enriched by the patrimony of faith of the Catholic Church. According to his own testimony, it was with reference to the mystery of the Catholic faith that he understood some of the elements of the faith, such as the role of the Virgin Mary in salvation history, the real presence of Christ in the Eucharistic gifts and the apostolic ministry in the Church, including the ministry of unity exercised by the Bishop of Rome. In response to this, the Catholic Church had accepted that he take communion at the Eucharist, as he did every morning in the large church at Taizé. Brother Roger also received communion several times from the hands of Pope John Paul II, who had become friends with him from the days of the Second Vatican Council and who was well acquainted with his personal journey with respect to the Catholic Church. In this sense, there was nothing secret or hidden in the attitude of the Catholic Church, neither at Taizé or in Rome. During the funeral of Pope John Paul II, Cardinal Ratzinger only repeated what had already been done before him in Saint Peter’s Basilica, at the time of the late Pope. There was nothing new or premeditated in the Cardinal’s act.
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In a talk he gave in the presence of Pope John Paul II in Saint Peter’s Basilica during the young adult European meeting in Rome in 1980, the prior of Taizé described his own personal journey and his Christian identity with these words: “I have found my own Christian identity by reconciling within myself the faith of my origins with the Mystery of the Catholic faith, without breaking fellowship with anyone.” In fact, Brother Roger never wanted to break “with anyone,” for reasons which were essentially linked to his own desire for unity and to the ecumenical vocation of the Taizé Community. For that reason, he preferred not to use certain expressions like “conversion” or “formal” membership to describe his communion with the Catholic Church. In his conscience, he had entered into the mystery of the Catholic faith like someone who grows into it, without having to “abandon” or “break” with what he had received and lived beforehand. The meaning of some theological or canonical terms could be discussed endlessly. Out of respect for the faith-journey of Brother Roger, however, it would be preferable not to apply to him categories which he himself considered inappropriate for his experience and which, moreover, the Catholic Church never wanted to impose upon him. Here too, the words of Brother Roger himself should suffice for us." - Cardinal Kasper: Chiesa
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Some times when it rains spiritually, it pours. Speaking of Br. Roger, Pope Benedict stated:

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"He often came to visit me and, as I already said in Rome on the day of his assassination, I received a letter from him that moved my heart, because in it he underlined his adherence to my path and announced to me that he wanted to come and see me. He is now visiting us and speaking to us from on high. I think that we must listen to him, from within we must listen to his spiritually-lived ecumenism and allow ourselves to be led by his witness towards an interiorized and spiritualized ecumenism.

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"I see good reason in this context for optimism in the fact that today a kind of network of spiritual links is developing between Catholics and Christians from the different Churches and Ecclesial Communities: each individual commits himself to prayer, to the examination of his own life, to the purification of memory, to the openness of charity.

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"The father of spiritual ecumenism, Paul Couturier, spoke in this regard of an 'invisible cloister' which unites within its walls those souls inflamed with love for Christ and his Church. I am convinced that if more and more people unite themselves interiorly to the Lord's prayer 'that all may be one' (Jn 17: 21), then this prayer, made in the Name of Jesus, will not go unheard." - Source

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That seems new, huh? But it's not I guess.
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Yeah. So anyway. That is why I told my friend to say grace at the wedding and why I'll let churchmen do what they do.

17 comments:

  1. OK, you said not to say anything but I'm going to anyway: we pray it every Sunday in the Creed: "We believe in ONE BAPTISM FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS".

    This simply phrase goes far beyond that phrase alone. ONE BAPTISM. There is no such thing as a valid baptism that is not Catholic. It's why we recognize the Trinitarian baptism and don't "re-do" baptisms of people of other Christian religions.

    Canonically...1 baptism. All Christians are baptized Catholic and boy do they squirm to learn this.

    Anyway, the Pope said to use the internet to evangelize...not backbite and attack and be holier than the liturgy while forgetting liturgy is all about Christ.

    And that's the problem; original sin doesn't go away just because we're all trying to be holy and screwing it up royally.

    We're just doing it on the internet now.

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  2. I don't know how religious people can go on attacking and tearing one another to pieces while claiming to be traditional, devout, and good.

    I've been struggling with that sort of thing too lately. Everywhere I go people are mean, judgmental, and arrogant...even in the Catholic circles. I just want to crawl under a rock sometimes. What happened to mutual respect? What happened to love? It makes my heart hurt.

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  3. Thanks Adoro - your clarification is the kind of comment I like - I also like your take on the Holy Father's recommendation and the reminder of our fallen nature getting in the way of our sanctification.

    Seeker - Adoro addressed your (our) concern I think.

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  4. Catholics who don't believe in the Real Presence concern me more than a Protestant who did believe.

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  5. Excellent point Melody.

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  6. Anonymous6:09 PM

    Can I understand something?

    Terry, were you once a monk, a Carmelite friar, a priest? I don't know you, so I don't understand posts like this. Maybe it's none of my business, but if you were, why did you leave?

    I'm trying to discern my own vocation and really have no idea what you're talking about here.

    Are you upset you got into the "fray" or is it in fact inevitable?

    What's going on?

    Patrick

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  7. A "non-Catholic" may receive communion IF that person believes in the true presence and requests to receive. I cannot remember which Canon law it is but I've had discussions with priests and bishops about this and they have agreed.

    He/she cannot be "led" by someone (like a priest) telling him he may receive if he asks.

    However, it happens rarely because if you believe in the true presence, you would probably become a Catholic.

    I have a close family member who received under that law before she was formally received into the church.

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  8. Adrienne - thanks for clearing that up.

    Patrick - I was a novice in a monastery or two once - long time ago - I'm not a good example. I left because I realized it was not my vocation - sorry for this post being so confusing - it's one of my mental exercises to just drone on about stuff that confuses me and how mixed up I get reading Catholic blogs and all the hot air people spew proving how much they know about everything...

    It's a Monday thing - did you ever hear of a movie called Network? Does the name Howard Beale mean anything to you? I get like that sometimes.

    Pursue your vocation - all is well. And no, you don't have to get into the fray.

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  9. Well written, Terry.

    Some feel called to stand in the gap, though. Remember the first words of Pope John Paul II upon becoming Pope: "Be not a-frayed!"

    Do me a favor and let me know when I become backbiting and attacking. I know I sometimes stray off the fine line of satire and parody, even though I don't mean to.

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  10. Larry, you are always a gentleman - you never get into that stuff.

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  11. Anonymous5:57 AM

    There are some very good spiritually-oriented and serious blogs and sites by religious and hermits. Just because they use the 'new pinted press', not all blogs and sites are the same; just like all books (like the ones monastics worked on over the ages) are the same.

    I'm a hermit for 40 years and have a Yahoo interdenomination list of more than 450 members for monastic subjects, practices, contemplation, prayer, vocation advice, info and news and don't get involved in superficial flames and deabtes.

    http:/groups.yahoo.com/group/monasterion

    Thanks for your blog

    John (hermit)

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  12. michael r.8:03 AM

    "In his conscience, he had entered into the mystery of the Catholic faith like someone who grows into it..." -- It's kinda like saying in my conscience I've become the pope....The problem is that I've done nothing concrete in the past x number of years to get into the college of cardinals.

    While I've had interest in Bro. Roger & Taize for thirty years or so, I'm really quite troubled by this kind of logic. Taize is an ecumenical community - and there are Catholics there - but Brother Roger did not become a Catholic. His community has been quite adamant that Br. Roger did not undergo a secret conversion, inspite of what many have speculated. It's hard to believe that Cardinal Ratzinger would have handed him Holy Communion so publically at the funeral of JPII. He knew who he was. It's not like he was taken by surprise. Br. Roger was sitting in the front row. The problem is that the popes seem to have made an exception for Br. Roger. Why? Nothing offered thus far makes sense of this. Cardinal Kasper's comments do nothing to put an end to this story.

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  13. Michael I think we are both troubled by this story in exactly the same way.
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    I knew a woman who wasn't allowed to receive communion because she was a Lutheran and remained so only because her conversion to RC would scandalize her minister husband's family - she believed in everything - yet she couldn't receive communion - she frequently said "spiritually I'm a Catholic". Yet she was roundly criticized for preferring her husband over the Church and not a few said that if she did not convert she could go to hell because she remained outside the Church as a Lutheran. That all sounds rather extreme - but on many levels that is what most ordinary lay people have understood regarding the faith. Hence Br. Roger's communion has been a source of scandal for some, and a matter of confusion for others, while creating an atmosphere of suspicion surrounding the doctrinal integrity of Cardinal Kasper and others.

    It poses so many questions. Why bother with RCIA for fellow Christians coming into the Church? If a person believes enough, can they just dispense with confession as well? Can we be so spiritually Catholic ordinary rules no longer apply for us? Suppose pro-choice politicians really believe in the real presence and all that the Church teaches - even about abortion - but they keep it spiritually to themselves - doesn't that thinking make it possible for them to receive communion then?

    These things trouble people - especially dissidents and are understood as inconsistencies.

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  14. John - thanks for your comment. I'll check out your site. I'm not saying contemplatives can't or shouldn't be online - I just wonder about it. Especially for Carmelite nuns or maybe even a Carthusian - if indeed they do online stuff. Correspondence and outside contact, at least for OCD nuns was usually discouraged - a prioress once explained to me, "The vocation of a Carmelite is to pray, not write correspondence." So without going into great detail regarding that statement, it seems to me, the internet provides a great deal of sensory stimulation and distraction, unlike other works, manual, artistic, intellectual and so on. Hence I would think solitude and recollection could be difficult to practice.

    Far be it from me to sit in judgement on another person's religious observance, or the authenticity of their prayer life. However, I was just wondering out loud about this stuff since my own interior life suffers from too much exposure to online news sources and checking in on fellow bloggers to see what they are up to, or who responded to my emails, and so on. I tend to be much too subjective - although writing a post like this can be a help to me in examining my own failures - which most of these types of posts are really about - ME. Curiously it arouses defensive comments from others who seem to think my criticism was pointed at them personally.

    Which just goes to prove that one's writing can not only be easily misunderstood, it can preoccupy one to the point they feel a need to make some sort of statement - which prolongs the distracting occupation of visiting in the online parlor, or loitering at the turn.

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  15. John - the end of my response should read like this:

    "...it can preoccupy a reader to the point they feel a need to make some sort of statement - which prolongs the distracting (virtual) occupation of visiting in the online parlor, or loitering at the online turn."

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  16. Of course Carmelite nuns can blog as long as they have permission from their superior. Many Carmelite nuns have written books, including St. Teresa of Avila and the the Little Flower, and many, many others. They did it with permission, though, sometimes in holy obedience, too. Blogging is the new medium and the Holy Father encouraged Catholics to blog. If a cloistered nun is blogging, then we should assume in charity she does so in obedience.

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  17. Thank you Elena for your kind correction. God reward you.

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