Tuesday, February 12, 2013

A Catholic Moment

It is interesting to observe how in the New Testament the word “saints” designates Christians as a whole, and certainly not all would have qualified to be declared saints by the Church. What is meant, then, by this term? The fact that whoever had and lived the faith in Christ Risen were call to become a point of reference for all others, setting them in this way in contact with the Person and the Message of Jesus, who reveals the face of the Living God. And this holds true also for us: a Christian who lets himself be guided and gradually shaped by the faith of the Church, in spite of his weaknesses, his limitations and his difficulties, becomes like a window open to the light of the living God, receiving this light and transmitting it to the world...

Today’s widespread tendency to relegate faith to the private sphere thus, contradicts its very nature. We need the Church in order to confirm our faith and in order to experience the gifts of God: his Word, the Sacraments, the support of grace and the witness of love. Like this, our “I” can be perceived in the “we” of the Church and, at the same time, be the recipient and the protagonist of an overwhelming event: experiencing communion with God, that is the foundation of communion among men. In a world in which individualism seems to rule personal relationships, making them ever more fragile, the faith calls us to be the People of God, to be Church, bearers of the love and communion of God for all mankind (cf. Pastoral Constitution Guadium et Spes, n. 1).

General Audience, 31 October 2012

Reflection – As I said yesterday in my initial and rather shocked reaction to the news of Pope Benedict’s resignation, I think I will continue blogging as normal. The German Shepherd has shepherded us long before he came pope, and his words and wisdom will continue to be part of the Good Shepherd’s shepherding of us long after he has left the office.

Meanwhile… well, we’re all very conscious of our Church identity now, aren’t we? Nothing like a conclave to make everyone very mindful of being Catholic and this strange call to communion that comes to us accompanied by puffs of white smoke and rooms of elderly men wearing red hats.

It’s a ‘we’ time that hopefully overrides or at least gives a stiff competition to the ‘I’ focus of our normal lives. Meanwhile, the eyes of the world are, for at least a couple news cycles, very much on the Catholic Church. There is a great opportunity here, but also a great challenge.

Our non-Catholic friends and relatives may ask questions of us on Facebook. Can you answer them? Fevered media speculation and verbiage fills the airwaves and bandwidth of the chattering classes. Can you sort out what has validity from what is ill-informed nonsense? (Hint: the ratio is about 10%-90% on that score).

It is this whole business the Pope speaks of here, of a Christian being a point of reference for others directing them towards Christ, and to do that, allowing ourselves to be formed by the faith of the Church and not the passing values of the world. It is a very Catholic moment right now—lots of attention and ‘buzz’ around all of this, at least until the next squirrel distracts our ADHD media. Are we going to move through it in a Catholic way, though? That is, with a depth of faith and prayer, a knowledge of how serious all this is, but at the same time a deeper knowledge that it’s not too serious, that God is in His Church to watch over it and guide it in all events.

If I may give you all a bit of practical advice, it would be this. Ignore the mass media. They don’t know what they’re talking about, frankly, and don’t seem terribly interested in getting the story right. CNN, Fox, MSNBC, CBC—all the alphabet soup of talking heads are simply not reliable sources for information, and bring an exclusively political perspective to the whole matter (it’s all they know about, the poor dears), along with their own peculiarly obsessed tunnel vision re social issues (‘maybe the NEXT Pope will approve abortion and gay marriage!’ Uh, no – that’s not going to happen.).

Ignore them all – they are untrustworthy. Rocco Palma is a knowledgeable journalist, as is John Allen (Yes, I know the link is NCR - he's still one of the best). EWTN does a reliable professional job covering this stuff, as does Salt and Light TV in Canada. Go to the people who know what they’re talking about and ignore the rest.
Above all, though, pray, pray, pray. This is a clarion call from God to the Church to pray for our leaders, to ask the Holy Spirit to descend on the College of Cardinals, to give peace and firmness of purpose to all the faithful, to be the saints of God our baptism and Confirmation have made us to be. Amen.

Updated to add: Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. A good day to mortify our senses and our intellects. I will not blog tomorrow. See you Thursday, God willing.

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