I am doing a tremendous amount of research in Catherine Doherty's writings these days for a project I'm working on (OK, it's my next book, but I'm not able to say what it is yet!). As a result, I come across gems from her now and then that seem worth sharing, so I'll do that from time to time.
This article is from 1970, and of course her specific examples and some of her vocabulary are slightly dated. Don't let that distract you--the woman is saying something here that badly needs saying in our own time and place, with our own issues and problems. She is deep, and is going deep in this article. Enjoy!
ESTABLISHMENTS. Violence. Biafra. Vietnam. Priests seeking their identity. Nuns seeking their role. Technology, cybernetics and violent and rapid changes that they bring into the lives of people, or nations, of the whole world.
Such is the state of mankind on the threshold of the new decade. Libraries are filled with the writing of men trying to analyse, decode, explain—what is happening? What men should do and in which direction should they go?
Catholic books, magazines, newspapers, etc.,—are no exception to this general trend. Perhaps they are even more deeply involved than other groups, due to Vatican II and its “open windows.” But it seems to have allowed with the wind of the Holy Spirit that heals and cleanses, other winds to blow that wound and destroy as they come through those suddenly wide open windows.
It is good for everyone, Catholics included, to examine their consciences, individually, collectively, nationally and internationally. But, it is not good to spend one’s time examining the conscience of “The Other.”
Is it good for the Christian to take part in peace and protest marches into hate marches that in turn emotionally, intellectually, physically wound, maim or even kill one’s brother? Within the Catholic Church it is good to courageously face authority whoever that authority may be. But the way to face it would be a-la-Thomas More who spoke the truth to Kings and Prelates without fear, and didn’t try to escape either the confrontation nor the consequences. Also all that he did was done in charity!
Here seems to lie the center of our modern confusion. The almost utter confusion that at present is shaking the minds of the young and old alike, as well as everyone in between! How can one be a pacifist if there is no peace in one’s heart? How can we heal our brother, the rich-poor as well as the poor-poor, if we have neither the oil nor wine of charity and compassion in our hearts?
How can one bring the suffering of Vietnamese, Biafrans, the welfare poor of our country, and all the other poor all over to our own Christians when one is full of hostility, anger and even hate toward a segment of these same Christians, Americans. Canadians or others whom one constantly calls “members of the establishment”, forgetting that they are also members of the Mystical Body of Christ and our brothers in Christ!
Somewhere, some place one senses the mystery of iniquity at work, for under such circumstances the Glad News isn’t given to our brothers nor is the Gospel preached to the poor! Yet today there is everywhere much involvement. There is even much concern and everyone speaks of Justice and seeks through all means possible to secure it for one’s self and for everyone else.
But today also there is a great confusion. There is much chaotic thinking and it seems to be because we have forgotten, we Christians, that Justice is the child of Love. Justice without Love is bitter, cold, seldom healing or restoring, often harsh even when presenting truth or truths.
For Love is a Person, love is God. Where God is there Love is. But what we try to do is to truncate God, cut Him up, for He is also Truth and Justice. One cannot in the reality of daily living give one with the other, for one has to repeat that love is God. To Him is given Justice. He administers it with love – “for a bruised reed He will not crush”. He is also Truth, not abstract, not presented as a learned treatise, not taken out of context. No!
But today it seems evident that somehow or other we are given Justice without Love most of the time. We give Truth in the abstract as if it only came from books and man’s mind. In a word, we have divorced our “head” from our “heart”. How are we to bring the two together so that mankind can be given what it needs with a tremendous Love – that holds Justice on the patter of Humility which is but another word for Truth – for Christ said, “Learn of Me for I am gentle and humble of heart.”
Perhaps in the noise of our new urban and technological age it is difficult to connect all these things of the Spirit together. Perhaps men have come to realize that in order to make such a connection without which neither Love nor Justice nor Truth can function as they must, men must pray.
Yes, man will realize that to become whole and to make God whole within themselves they must pray.
There is much writing about prayer these days. Some there are who say that one can only pray horizontally. Others talk mostly about vertical prayer. Again a strange desire to break, sever something, analyse a mystery, for fundamentally prayer is a mystery, as God is a mystery.
For factually all we have to do is to connect vertical and horizontal prayer and stop analysing them, for these two dimensions enter into all things. It is also very simple even though these lines in a manner of speaking may be abstract, as in the Incarnation. He who is Love, Justice and Truth. He who is God. He who is the second person of the Most Holy Trinity, became man, descended vertically and lived horizontally.
But it is also noticed that constantly through His life He returned to the vertical lines. For the scriptures again and again speak of the time when “leaving the crowd He went alone to pray” and these passages of Christ’s vertical prayer to His Father are so numerous so as to become repetitious.
But one also could say that in His horizontal way of praying as a carpenter with His tools and wood that He used, that His membership in the community of Nazareth, and His community of men in Palestine with whom He dealt constantly in His years of preaching and teaching, all these were horizontal prayers in which He not only led men to His Father but saw the face of His Father in all men. And so, as with men, vertical lines and horizontal lines both meet constantly in the uncharted land of our little earth.
Houses are built vertically and horizontally and so is the Mystical Body of Christ, and so is the house of
the mind and the house of the heart, constantly reminded of the man-God who came to us vertically and lived with us horizontally lifting us vertically to His Father.
Yes, we should be concerned about Vietnam, Biafra, the urban and rural poor of the North American continent, the poor-poor of the slums and welfare and the poor-rich of Park Avenue, Hollywood, et al., deeply concerned, involved, tormented. Passionately desirous of bringing them Love, Truth, Justice and Peace. But in order to do so we must believe in Him who is the Prince of Peace, who is Truth, Justice and above all Love. And we must pray to Him constantly, vertically to give us the strength to do what He did amongst men horizontally.