Heart glad and hope high

Christ is the centre, not the Successor of Peter…Christ is the reference point at the heart of the Church, without Him, Peter and the Church would not exist”….

“Truth, Goodness and Beauty…We are not called to communicate ourselves, but this trinity…the Church exists to communicate Truth, Goodness and Beauty”.

“…not everyone present belongs to the Catholic faith and others do not believe...I respect the conscience of each one of you, knowing that each one of you is a Child of God.
May God bless you”.

—Pope Francis I

He is talking about not making gerunds. I never thought I’d see this…

I’m used to the dichotomized Catholic world, divided peculiarly into two camps. There are the devout who truly believe, believe in ancient faith and holy traditions, who bow before Presence, who sing in Latin, carrying their many bright-eyed children to the altar of God, kneeling before something Holy and Beautiful and Terrible and Greater than themselves.

There is a steadfastness of heart there. A bulwark against the ravages of other things. And yes, in that distance and austere splendor, a moment of true silence, a deep comfort, like cold water from an ancient well. For all my differences, there is something there that others cannot give. They hold on to All That Has Been Lost in this age of empty modernism, their hands cling firmly, come hell and high water. Their grip is firm, the knuckles white, holding on.

But their hands can sometimes…sometimes also be rigid and closed, more intent upon holding on than on receiving, too afraid to let slip what can so easily be lost. Oh I know they have good reason to fear, for innocence and faith and hope are fragile, fragile things. Tear the fabric, and the whole weave shall unravel. One’s own soul is, as, Thomas More put it (in A Man For All Seasons), “held in a man’s cupped hands like water…and if he should spread his fingers….”

But all the same, their hands can become closed. And sometimes blind to a part of God’s truth within those with whom they disagree. For all Truth is God’s truth, it is too great a thing to become divided up and possessed. If something is truly True, than it should be so, regardless of the teller, be he Protestant or Muslim or Buddhist. Precisely because one’s creed is true, one does not possess it, one has no monopoly upon it. (Which, btw, was Paul VI’s point when he refused to use his papal powers to update things, “Since the Church did not make either of these laws, she cannot be their arbiter—only their guardian and interpreter. It could never be right for her to declare lawful what is in fact unlawful” because she does not have that power.)

And then there are the ‘open-minded’ ones, they are welcoming and inclusive. To my joy they were OK with me being Protestant…but also OK with you being Buddhist…and Wiccan…and OK if you don’t know much about Jesus or yourself or holiness or love and it is so OK that they should let it stay that way and never tell you anything about Him…and everything is so OK that nothing really matters… And so the temple becomes as reasonable and as empty as the rest of this hollow modern world.

There is a 1973 movie, titled “Catholics” or “The Conflict,” that pretty much nails the topic–the rigidity and fragility of the traditionalists, the velvet imperialism and hollowness of the revisionists. (Link on youtube here)

Both sides get half of it…

Now there is Pope Francis.

Some conservatives are panicking, because they think he is saying, “I respect you, so you are all OK, haha, truth isn’t objective, it can be whatever you want to make it, like a play-doh ball everyone can squish any way they want–according to their personal preference.”

I don’t think that is what he is saying. I think he is saying, “the Truth is so objectively real (outside of ourselves) that we have no monopoly on Him. Truth incarnate calls the shots, not us.”

When I first heard about his anti-gerund and Christ-the-center comment, I lost control from joy, shouting and leaping about. The bright Alabama sunlight was poured out on the kitchen floor, that dear old linoleum kitchen floor. Half a dozen of my siblings were there, laughing. My father smiled.

When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like men who dreamed.
Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
‘The Lord has done great things for them.’
The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.


5 thoughts on “Heart glad and hope high

  1. Do you think it’s at all possible (in regards to the open-minded ones) that when everything is okay, it means everything really matters?

  2. In theory, I suppose so; but in practice it doesn’t seem to pan out that way. I’m thinking of that part in the pixar film The Incredibles, where Dash’s mom tells him “Everybody is special!” and he gripes back, “which is just saying that nobody is!” The solution to that on earth, is families, because everyone is special to certain persons. And then of course its all different with God, we can all be His favorite child because He’s infinite and so can’t be “stretched too thin.” But people are finite, and it seems to end up that way.

  3. I’m honestly not sure! I go back and forth on it a lot.

    I’d like to think that it is possible, though. It just seems like there are so many overlapping variables absolutely everywhere that it becomes so difficult to draw any barriers without them becoming unfair, or closed, or unkind.

    I understand what you’re saying about the “everyone is special” concept, but part of me wants to think that there’s enough significance out there that if it gets applied to everything it would more like diffusion than dilution.

    It does make orienting yourself in any permanent way really difficult, though.

    Does that make sense?

  4. Yes, it does make sense.

    I think about/puzzle over it alot.

    It’s come up alot in the whole ecumenical stuff in my own life. From my own experience in a varied assortment of denominations….it seems that the ‘hardcore’ religionists have “something” (e.g. a powerful connection to Transcendance/God) that non-hard-core-ists lack. (Not all hard-core religion of course, the jihadi/legalistic/hating/aztec/orgy kinds of *religion* are another story). The in between stuff and watered-down stuff (I’m thinking of Unitarian and liberal Episcopalian in particular) can give warm hugs and goodwill and free chocolate bunnies, but it does not open the way to the Transcendent that the hardcore religion does, like the difference between electric nightlights and real fire. So is all that matters the ‘hard-core-ness’ of it?

    But then, it doesn’t make sense for me to say, “it’s all good as long as you are hardcore” (e.g. Calvinists, Charismatics, Tridentine Catholics, devout Muslims, Orthodox Jews)…when the whole central premise of hardcore-ness IS exclusivity, specificity, this-and-nothing-else. It is like that part in Fiddle On The Roof, in middle of the wedding dispute, when Perchik and the Rabbi are disagreeing about tradition vs. individual choice, and Tevye says “he’s right—and he’s right” indicating both of them, at which point a third person shouts, “they can’t BOTH be right!” And Tevye shouts in desparation, “And you are right too!”

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