The Inner Struggle

Is there even one good thing?

Kojo No Tsuki” (Rentaro Taki), performed by Yo-Yo Ma, Michio Mamiya, & Patricia Zander, from the album “Japanese Melodies” (1990)

The original tenshu of Aizuwakamatsu Castle (1868),

The original tenshu of Aizuwakamatsu Castle (1868),

Just muddling along in the snow these days. Thoughts all over the map, and have been doing a lot of thinking about the scandal and controversy in the Roman Catholic Church. Been reading “Church Militant” blog, off and on for the last few weeks. We are in a real “take-no-prisoners” battle these days, and it often feels very much like we are losing.

But there is a silver lining to this storm, and that is that one must revisit and rethink comfortable conclusions taken for granted for years. It is safe to say that one is even encouraged by all this controversy to think outside the comfortable box.

I find myself revisiting modes of thought regarding the Church which I have not experienced since the late 60’s, and the disruption brought on in the Canadian Catholic Church by the “Spirit of Vatican II”.

That “Spirit” as expressed in Canada resulted in such events as the “Winnipeg Statement of 1968. and began a decades long de-facto schism between the Canadian Church and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Canadian Catholic Church has not fully recovered from this schism to this day. The Progressives, who made up the vast majority of the Canadian Council of Catholic Bishops (97 out of 100 bishops) took “their church” down a separate path from Rome which was decidedly not Catholic. The damage done by these men is incalculable, and we Canadian Catholics will be reaping this whirlwind for generations to come.

Now we are faced with an even more destructive leadership crisis emanating from Rome itself, but which has all its roots in “the Spirit” of Vatican II as well as many other crisis in Church history. Satan never rests:

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St. Louis de Montfort

St. Louis de Montfort

As St. Louis de Montfort (1673-1715) says ...”(Satan) knows that we have this treasure, which is worth more than Heaven and earth put together, in frail vessels, i.e., in a corruptible body and in a weak and inconstant soul, which a mere nothing disturbs and dejects: “We have this treasure in earthen vessels” (2 Cor. 4:7).

Because all the devils, are skillful thieves, who wish to surprise us unawares. They watch day and night for the favorable moment. and they go around about us incessantly to devour us and to snatch from us in one moment, by a sin, all the graces and merits we have gained for many years.

Their malice, their experience, their stratagems and their number ought to make us fear this misfortune immensely, especially when we see how many persons fuller of grace than we are, richer in virtues, better founded in experience and far higher exalted in sanctity, have been surprised, robbed and unhappily pillaged.

Ah! How many cedars of Lebanon, how many stars of the firmament, have we not seen fall miserably, and in the twinkling of an eye lose all their height and their brightness! Whence comes that sad and curious change? It was not for want of grace which is wanting to no man; but is was for want of humility.

They thought themselves capable of guarding their own treasures. They trusted in themselves, relied upon themselves. They thought their house secure enough, and their coffers strong enough, to keep the precious treasure of grace. It is because of that scarcely perceptible reliance upon themselves, though all the while it seemed to them that they were relying only on the grace of God, that the most just Lord permitted them to be robbed by leaving them to themselves.  … 

It is difficult to preserver in justice because of the strange corruption of the world. The world is now so corrupt it seems inevitable that religious hearts should be soiled, if not by its mud, at least by its dust; so that it has become a kind of miracle for anyone to remain in the midst of that impetuous torrent without being drowned in it or stripped by the pirates and the corsairs, in the midst of that pestilent air without being infected by it.”

St. Louis de Montfort, “True Devotion to Mary: With Preparation for Total Consecration” (Kindle Locations 1030-1040). KIC. Kindle Edition.

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One result of stepping outside my comfort zone, is a brief glimpse I have had that my “God” is not the “god” of our modern culture, nor, perhaps, the “God” of my Church, but rather something, someone, much, much, more, “GOD” for want of a better descriptor.

My “God” is not my buddy, not “nice”, not accommodating,  not fashionable, but he is Merciful, and Loving in sense of Agape, “the highest form of love, charity” and “the love of God for man and of man for God”, and He is above all a God of Justice who demands commitment … “Come, Follow Me”. He guarantees “Free Will” and the choices available with it. But He also insists on “Responsibility” for one’s choices and actions. And “Responsibility” is very much missing in action these days.

So what was I thinking about …  Oh, right, “god”, and “God”, and “GOD”.

Just going with a quote from another good book I have been reading, Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms, by Holly Ordway.

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Holly Ordway

Holly Ordway

There are various levels of self-involving statements. If,  walking down the street, I say ‘I think that was the Number 10 bus,’ the statement is only minimally self-involving; I do not want to go where the Number 10 bus goes, and anyway I prefer to walk.

But if, arriving breathless at the bus-stop on the way to a vital appointment, I look despairingly up the street and say ‘I think that was the Number 10 bus,’ knowing that the next one is not due for another two hours and that there is no other means of arriving on time, the statement not only involves me, it plunges me into gloom.

The point is that one cannot say ‘Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised from the dead’ with the minimal involvement of the first of those statements. If it happened, it matters. The world is a different place from what it would be if it did not happen.

Saying that ‘Jesus of Nazareth was bodily raised from the dead’ is not only a self-involving statement; it is a self-committing statement, going beyond a reordering of one’s private world into various levels of commitment to work out the implications.

We cannot simply leave a flag stuck on a hill somewhere and sail back home to safety.”

N.T. Wright, quoted by Holly Ordway, “Not God’s Type: An Atheist Academic Lays Down Her Arms” (Kindle Locations 1834-1844). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.

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It seems to me, now, that the Resurrection is the signal Truth of Christianity. The Truth of the Resurrection is the foundation of everything handed down to us, which we have been taught to believe, or in our wilfulness, have refused to believe.

I get a brief glimpse, here and there, that the “God” I have believed in all my life is not in fact the “GOD” which the Apostles, and the Fathers, and the Doctors of the Church believed in. The “God” that I have believed in is not the “GOD” which the Magisterium of the Church was intended to hand down to us and teach to us.

I have a sense that I am standing in a hurricane of ecclesial controversy and I have a suspicion that even the “God” that the modern church of Rome is talking about is not in fact the “GOD” of Peter, and Paul, and the rest of the Apostles and the first century Christians. Fleeting though this vision is it seems hugely important, and I keep trying to get my hands on it in a more permanent way.

Nicholas Thomas Wright FRSE (born 1 December 1948)

Nicholas Thomas Wright FRSE (born 1 December 1948)

Once we have glimpsed the true portrait of God, the onus is on us to reflect it: to reflect it as a community, to reflect it as individuals. The image of the true and living God, once revealed in all its glory, is to be reflected into all the world, as was always God’s intention.

The mission of the Church can be summed up in the phrase “reflected glory.” When we see, as Paul says, the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ, we see this not for our own benefit, but so that the glory may shine in us and through us to bring light to the world that still waits in darkness and the shadow of death.” N.T. Wright,

Are Catholics reflecting the true portrait of GOD right now? There is just so much more to the Truth than C.S. Lewis’ simple statement: Jesus was either mad, or bad, or he was “who he claimed to be.” Lewis was indeed trying to make it simple and did a very good job of it, but the Truth is further up, and further in!

Reading N.T. Wright is like cutting my way through a lush and fruitful jungle towards Understanding.

Cheers

Joe

 

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