Wednesday, October 3

Hard words on reconstruction

A few bits of synchronicity which have come together and inspired me to pen this post. I warn you now that it is not an easy pill to swallow, nor am I pleased to administer it, but medicine is often efficacious in inverse proportion to its palatability.

The first comes this op-ed piece in the Boston Globe by James Carroll.  Carroll recalls the Vatican II council and upon the 50th anniversary of Pope John XXIII calling for the council, his op-ed describes in lurid detail how much promise and change which the Council promised whilst expounding upon its failings.  The upshot of his lengthy memoir is that the revolution which was signaled 50 years ago is dead, ostensibly struck down by a few prelates who felt threatened by the changes which they themselves had instituted.  He states, "Alas, the age of miracles passed."  Clergy and laity both left the Roman Church in droves.

Some of those people came to places like my own Catholic-not-Roman church, which leads me directly into the next bit.  Our Presiding Bishop was in town to ordain a priest and was kind enough to spend an evening in dialogue with the laity of our parish.  When asked what his biggest fear is, the bishop replied that the Church (our break-away V2-style church) would die with 'our' (his, read Boomer) generation.   It is my belief that his fears are not only well-founded, but it is quite likely.

The Boomer/V2 church will die with them just like the Roman model which the prelates are so keen to promote will, realistically, die with them.  Both will die because there is no need for the church as they know it. The US society is, by and large, no longer interested in 'pray, pay, obey' and the 'social justice revolution' of Vatican II is almost quaint and backwards compared to where mainstream secular society is today. Furthermore, there is a more fundamental question of relevance - why any church at all?  People of faith and good will can and do meet in non-church places, perform the Good Work outside of church walls and have formed community beyond the bounds of the bishop.This leads me to what I realized last night as I looked out on a sea of greying hair and balding pates.

St. Dominic once said,
It is not by the display of power and pomp, cavalcades of retainers, and richly-houseled palfreys, or by gorgeous apparel, that the heretics win proselytes; it is by zealous preaching, by apostolic humility, by austerity, by seeming, it is true, but by seeming holiness. Zeal must be met by zeal, humility by humility, false sanctity by real sanctity, preaching falsehood by preaching truth.
This applies to heretics within the organization as well as without. During the 1970's, when the Vatican II pushback happened, where was the zeal? the preaching truth? the real sanctity? Their days of revolution are past and, as is so clearly outlined in Carroll's piece, when it came time to take up pitchforks and torches and force the issue, the faithful did so very little.

IF the Good Work is to continue, it will not be done by the Boomers or the Church.  No, it must be done by those of us who have been left behind by the Boomers, by the prelates, by the Church.  On this, the vigil of the feast of St. Francis, I would echo the words he heard, "Rebuild My Church".

IF we are willing to hear and answer the voice of the Divine, it is for us, those left behind, to pick up those stones and rebuild the church so that it relates to OUR concerns, OUR times and OUR world, not for us or ourselves, but for His Glory and Her Will be done.