"Are we prepared to promote conditions in which the living contact with God can be reestablished? For our lives today have become godless to the point of complete vacuity. God is no longer with us in the conscious sense of the word. He is denied, ignored, excluded from every claim to have a part in our daily life." - Alfred Delp, S.J.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Where do we see the Church most clearly?
At the table of sinners...
"In the human dream of a perfect world, holiness is always visualized as untouchability by sin and evil, as something unmixed with the latter. [. . .] In contemporary criticism of society and in the actions in which it vents itself, this merciless side always present in human ideals is once again only too evident. That is why the aspect of Christ's holiness that upset his contemporaries was the complete absence of this condemnatory note – fire did not fall on the unworthy nor were the zealous allowed to pull up the weeds which they saw growing luxuriantly on all sides. On the contrary, this holiness expressed itself precisely as mingling with the sinners whom Jesus drew into his vicinity; as mingling to the point where he himself was made "to be sin" and bore the curse of the law in execution as a criminal – complete community of fate with the lost (cf. 2 Cor. 5.21; Gal. 3.13). He has drawn sin to himself, made it his lot and so revealed what true "holiness" is: not separation but union, not judgment but redeeming love.
Is the Church not simply the continuation of God's deliberate plunge into human wretchedness; is it not simply the continuation of Jesus' habit of sitting at table with sinners, of his mingling with the misery of sin to the point where he actually seems to sink under its weight? Is there not revealed in the unholy holiness of the Church, as opposed to man's expectation of purity, God's true holiness, which is love, love which does not keep its distance in a sort of aristocratic, untouchable purity but mixes with the dirt of the world, in order thus to overcome it? Can therefore the holiness of the Church be anything else but the mutual support which comes, of course, from the fact that all of us are supported by Christ? [. . .]
Those who really believe do not attribute too much importance to the struggle for the reform of ecclesiastical ritual.
At bottom there is always hidden pride at work when criticism of the Church adopts that tone of rancorous bitterness which today is already beginning to become a fashionable habit. Unfortunately it is accompanied only too often by a spiritual emptiness in which the specific nature of the Church as a whole is no longer seen, in which it is only regarded as a political instrument whose organization is felt to be pitiable or brutal, as the case may be, as if the real function of the Church did not lie beyond organization, in the comfort of the Word and of the sacraments which she provides in good and bad days alike. Those who really believe do not attribute too much importance to the struggle for the reform of ecclesiastical ritual. They live on what the Church always is; and if one wants to know what the Church really is one must go to them. For the Church is most present not where organizing, reforming and governing are going on but in those who simply believe and receive from her the gift of faith that is life to them." - Ratzinger: "Introduction to Christianity." Holy, Yet Mingled with Sinners: The Church of the Pope Theologian
Thanks to Joshua at Western Confucian for the link.