"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.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What is the Pope really saying?

When we do not profess Jesus Christ, the saying of Léon Bloy comes to mind:
 "Anyone who does not pray to the Lord prays to the devil." 
When we do not profess Jesus Christ, 
we profess the worldliness of the devil, 
a demonic worldliness. - Pope Francis

And who is he saying it to?

Sometimes I just don't know.  A lot of people seem to be confused, and many of us point fingers insisting he's calling out this or that group.  I think we are all reading him wrong.  I also think the majority of journalists are blindly misrepresenting what he says.  Trads feel picked on, of course - they've been the persecuted minority since the Council, right?  But so called "liberals" seem to me at least, to be the ones the Holy Father frequently indicates - something he has done right from the start.

Shortly after being elected he said something about prayer and worship.  He said something like, 'if you do not pray to Christ (God) you pray to the devil'.  Many remarked about how he frequently pointed to the existence of the devil - Satan.  Very liberal people do not do that.  Many liberal religious people go beyond Christ and pray ... to what?  The Pope suggested the devil.  Catholic new age retreat centers ring a bell?  Cenacle sisters retreat centers?  The guy always gets naked retreat centers?  Beyond Christ spirituality?  Ommmm, reiki me over the coals for saying it, but I think the Pope might have been talking to New Age Catholics.  (Sorry - bad Phil Dunphy puns, you'd think I write copy for local news.)

So anyway.  The Pope mentioned the devil again.  

That's so not progressive or liberal.
“We are all tempted because the law of our spiritual life, our Christian life is a struggle: a struggle. That’s because the Prince of this world, Satan, doesn’t want our holiness, he doesn’t want us to follow Christ." - Vatican Radio
So, if you are not praying to Christ, who are you praying to?  Somewhere in the Prophet Hosea it says "Turn to the Lord, take with you words."  Human beings communicate using words - Christian prayer uses words.  When you are lost for words, you can use the psalms, the rosary, the Our Father.  When you pray quietly, you are focused on the one you are with.  When your faculties are suspended, it's a grace.  The prayer of quiet is a gift from Christ.  We don't know how to pray as we ought, but the Holy Spirit within us intercedes for us.  Christ is the Word, made flesh - get it?  Of course there are artificial states of prayer, induced states - they are not supernatural, despite the 'levitation' of spirit it brings.

I didn't mean to go off on this, but I've come across some stuff online about prayer which I found kind of weird.  One woman said in an emergency with a family member she began praying for God's help, to heal, to help, to remedy the situation - adding a sort of apology, "I know prayer is supposed to be silent, listening, but I wasn't able to do that."  Well of course you weren't.  And that brings me to the next topic.  The pope on intellectualizing the faith.

Too many theologians?

The Holy Father didn't say that, but he's made remarks suggesting he knows that we know so much about theology and canon law and rubrics and social issues, but maybe lack common-ordinary-mysticism.  Even priests.  Perhaps that's why some of their homilies can be so boring - and maybe - just maybe - why they find the new translation so difficult to say/pray.  This kind of ties in with Francis' campaign against clericalism as well - especially of the laity - too many deacons?  He didn't say that, I'm not saying it, but he did kind of sort of praise simple lay people who pray.  But I digress.

Speaking to representatives of the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.
The other aspect that I wish to share is that of the relation between study and the spiritual life. Your intellectual commitment in teaching and in research, in study and in the broadest formation, will be that much more fruitful and effective the more it is animated by love of Christ and of the Church, and the more solid and harmonious will be the relation between study and prayer. This is not something ancient, it is the center!
This is one of the challenges of our time: to transmit knowledge and to offer a key to vital understanding, not a cumulus of notions unconnected among themselves. There is need of a true evangelical hermeneutic to understand life, the world and men better, not of a synthesis but of a spiritual atmosphere of research and certainty based on the truths of reason and of faith. Philosophy and Theology enable one to acquire the convictions that structure and strengthen the intelligence and illumine the will … but all this is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and kneeling. The theologian who is content with his complete and closed thought is a mediocre 'theologian'. The good theologian and philosopher has an open thought, that is, incomplete, always open to the maius of God and of the truth, always developing, according to that law that Saint Vincent of Lerins described as “annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate” (Commonitorium primum, 23: PL 50, 668): it is consolidated with the years, it dilates in time, it is deepened with age. This is the theologian that has an open mind. And the theologian that does not pray and does not adore God ends up in sickening narcissism. And this is an ecclesiastical sickness. The narcissism of theologians, of thinkers does so much harm, it is sickening. Zenit
Traditionalists might believe the Pope is going after them - again.  I'm not at all sure of that.  As a priest and bishop, the Holy Father went through all the changes in the Church that we did.  He was often considered to be too conservative during the course of his priestly life, and I believe somewhat marginalized for a time.  Liberal/progressive dissent is fairly well embedded in the post-Vatican II Church. I think the Pope may be talking to them just as much as he is talking to traditionalists.

I also think the Pope recognizes the crisis in [Catholic] education.
He said that it is every child’s right to grow up in a family “with a father and a mother” capable of creating “a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity”. The Pope also called for an end to what he termed as “educational experiments” with children and young people, pushing a “dictatorship of one form of thinking” on them in the name of a pretended “modernity”. 

The Pope noted that the “horrors of the manipulation of education that we experienced in the great genocidal dictatorships of the twentieth century have not disappeared; they have retained a current relevance under various guises and proposals”. 

To counter this he urged the BICE members to foster a true anthropological formation of the child respectful of the reality of the person, to enable children and young people to respond to the problems and challenges posed by contemporary culture and widespread mentality propagated by the mass media. - Vatican Radio

 I bet he knows kids are being screwed up in Catholic schools.
"What does Satan do to distance us from the path of Jesus? Firstly, his temptation begins gradually but grows and is always growing. Secondly, it grows and infects another person, it spreads to another and seeks to be part of the community. And in the end, in order to calm the soul, it justifies itself. It grows, it spreads and it justifies itself.” - Pope Francis

Just saying.

What's wrong with that? Is there something wrong with that? 
Why, why, why is that something wrong to do? I don't understand that. 
Why are you pointing the finger at other people all the time? 
Why don't you point the finger at yourself? 
Do a little more reading, maybe? 
Some time in court - maybe that would be effective for you!

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