Saturday, March 23, 2013

Never Trust the Media! (A Holy Week Meditation)

I would now like to add yet a third point: there was the Council of the Fathers – the real Council – but there was also the Council of the media. It was almost a Council apart, and the world perceived the Council through the latter, through the media. Thus, the Council that reached the people with immediate effect was that of the media, not that of the Fathers.

And while the Council of the Fathers was conducted within the faith – it was a Council of faith seeking intellectus, seeking to understand itself and seeking to understand the signs of God at that time…  the Council of the journalists, naturally, was not conducted within the faith, but within the categories of today's media, namely apart from faith, with a different hermeneutic.

It was a political hermeneutic: for the media, the Council was a political struggle, a power struggle between different trends in the Church. It was obvious that the media would take the side of those who seemed to them more closely allied with their world. There were those who sought the decentralization of the Church, power for the bishops and then, through the expression "People of God", power for the people, the laity… Naturally, for them, this was the part to be approved, to be promulgated, to be favoured.

We know that this Council of the media was accessible to everyone. Therefore, this was the dominant one, the more effective one, and it created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy … and the real Council had difficulty establishing itself and taking shape; the virtual Council was stronger than the real Council.

But the real force of the Council was present and, slowly but surely, established itself more and more and became the true force which is also the true reform, the true renewal of the Church. It seems to me that, 50 years after the Council, we see that this virtual Council is broken, is lost, and there now appears the true Council with all its spiritual force. And it is our task, especially in this Year of Faith, on the basis of this Year of Faith, to work so that the true Council, with its power of the Holy Spirit, be accomplished and the Church be truly renewed.

Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Clergy, February 14, 2013

Reflection – I’ve skipped ahead a bit in the talk, and will get back to the parts I skipped later. I wanted to reflect on this section before we move on to Holy Week blogging, as Pope Benedict says something very important here.

It is easy (all too easy!) to bash the media these days. Certainly I have done so, often in language too intemperate for this blog. Although one of my MH lay brothers, listening to me rant about the lousy job the media does, reminded me recently that (via this blog) I am the media now. Ouch!

But there is a deeper point here, and it actually pertains to Holy Week quite directly. It is true that the media distorted the Second Vatican Council, for example. The actual documents and their contents bear little resemblance to the popular picture people have, and that the media still promulgates, of what Vatican II was about. According to Pope Benedict who was there and should know, the media presentation of the deliberations and processes of the Council was equally distorted.

But the deeper point is not ‘the media is terrible and we should ignore them!’ That may be true. But more deeply, we have to be aware that, in a sense, we are all ‘media’. We all are taking in reality and putting forth our own spin on it. We all are presenting our version of things continually. There is the day Fr. Denis Lemieux is about to live, and then there is the day he is going to ‘report’ on to himself and others at the end of it. And these are not quite the same thing.

We are not all a bunch of filthy liars distorting the truth for our own personal gain. But we are unreliable witnesses, all of us, and don’t quite tell it like it is. Beware of the person who claims to ‘tell it like it is’ – really they just are dumping their judgments on you and whoever else will is listening.

And that leads me to Holy Week, oddly. Because… what is reality, anyhow? What is really going on? What’s the real deal, if we can’t trust the media, other people, or ourselves?

‘Behold the wood of the Cross…’ ‘Behold the Lamb of God…’ ‘Behold the man…’ What is going on, perpetually, always, in your life, in my life, in the life of the world, is that God is loving the world unto death and penetrating into the very heart of the world’s anguish and pain to sow seeds of life and resurrection there. God is descending into Hell to raise up Adam and Eve and all their children to radiant life in Him.
This is reality. This is not spin. This is what is. And in Holy Week we are invited, not to ‘tell it like it is’, but to ‘see it like it is,’ a seeing that can only happen by gazing upon the face of the Crucified Savior which yields to the radiant transfigured face of the Risen Lord. Un-mediated truth, or a medium of truth that is wholly reliable because it is wholly God’s – this is our time to plug into that truth and be conformed to it, so that our lives can be a little truer, a little less of us and a little (or lot) more of Jesus. That’s where we’re at, and that’s where I’ll be blogging this next week.

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