Saturday, October 8, 2011

Occupy Wall Street... or Another Street

 “SPE SALVI facti sumus”—in hope we were saved, says Saint Paul to the Romans, and likewise to us (Rom 8:24). According to the Christian faith, “redemption”—salvation—is not simply a given. Redemption is offered to us in the sense that we have been given hope, trustworthy hope, by virtue of which we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey. Now the question immediately arises: what sort of hope could ever justify the statement that, on the basis of that hope and simply because it exists, we are redeemed? And what sort of certainty is involved here?
Spe Salvi 1

Reflection - For some reason I've been thinking a lot about those protestors in the "Occupy Wall Street" event in New York and elsewhere.
Now, I know, they're a mess in more ways than one. Chaotic in their message - what do they want, actually? Deeply confused in their ideology - one demonstrator's memorable list of demands included that everyone be paid a salary, working or not, and that all debt, everywhere be immediately cancelled. And of course, rather dirty and unkempt and probably using drugs and having premarital sex and...
Etc. Etc. Etc. But, I don't know, there's something about these people that tugs at my heart. Maybe it's because they are just that--people--and they seem to be sort of lost. Sort of angry and sad. Sort of... hopeless.
Probably the shepherd in me coming out - I would like to help them, if I could. I am reminded of the hippy era in MH. Catherine had been down in Toronto receiving some honorary degree or something, and a young flower child, seeing her cross, asked her if she was a nun. "No, I'm a person!" she answered. And so began a remarkable encounter with the hippies in Queen's Park... who started to come to MH by the hundreds over the next years.
They were dirty. They were a mess. They were, often, confused. They didn't like the Church and put up quite a fight when they got here. And yes, they were doing drugs and having premarital sex... although they were generally nice about behaving themselves here.
Catherine saw behind the mess and the dirt and the smell to the people, and she got it, somehow, that these poor young people were looking for... something. Something different. Something better. Something society was not offering them. And she tried to help them find that, and some did. Some joined MH; others became Catholic or returned to the faith here; others came, didn't much like it, and left.
And so, I keep thinking of these occupy Wall Street people. Where is this taking them? Anger, rage, blame, impotent demands that the whole world change right now because I cannot find a job... where does this go? Where is that street taking them? And is there another way, another street?
Is there something else for them? Hey, you Wall Street Occupiers (if any of you stumble upon this blog post --wanna come try something completely different? Come on up to Madonna House! 2888 Dafoe Rd - come and occupy yourselves, and us! We've got all the work you could ever want, three meals a day, and a reason to live! We're a pretty ordinary bunch of nobodies, but we do have hope, and so are able to face whatever arduous present and uncertain future there is. What do you have, right now? What do you have to lose? You are welcome here.

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