The future of the Church will emerge from those whose roots are deep and who live from the pure fullness of their faith. It will not issue from those who accommodate themselves merely to the passing moment, or from those who merely criticize others… nor will it issue from those who take the easier road, who sidestep the passion of faith, declaring false and obsolete, tyrannous and legalistic, all that makes demands upon men… the future of the Church, once again as always, will be re-shaped by the saints… who see more than others see, because their lives embrace a wider reality.
Faith and the Future, 101Reflection - A happy feast of All Saitns to you! Fr. Joseph Ratzinger wrote the above words in a 1970 essay called "The Church in the year 2000". In the immediate aftermath of the Second Vatican Council, as factions were set up against factions, as theologians took out full page ads in the New York Times decrying papal encyclicals, as the faithful reeled and rocked under what seemed like one radical wave of change after another, this young German professor took a deep breath and plunged into the heart of the matter for the Church, whether it was the Church of the first century, twelfth century, 1970 or 2011.
We cannot live at the level of controversy, of criticism, of polemics and partisanship. We cannot live at the level of mediocrity, accommodation, going along to get along. We cannot live a life half-asleep, nor can we live a life permanently enraged at everyone who doesn't 'get it' exactly as we get it.
We have to sink our roots deep. We have to enter the passion of faith - the only way to creatively engage and move through the tragedies and confusion of our world today is to suffer them with Christ. We have to embrace this wider vision - Christ in all and through all, loving all, serving all, the Holy Spirit bending over the world with 'ah! bright wings' in the words of Hopkins, and the Father, the source of all being and the lover of all He made, surveying, looking out for all his prodigals, occupying our streets as we occupy some other street, waiting for us to come home.
It is this wider vision that we must embrace, and it does take us into the passion of Christ. But it is this and this alone (as I keep saying) that will bear fruit in our lives and make our lives bear fruit in the world.
Happy All Saints Day. Let's join them. Let's become saints, with God's help. If we do not do that, we will have wasted our lives.