Monday, April 05, 2010

A Catholic Reflects

Moving reflections on the challenges facing his church by the Reverend James Martin S.J. on Huffington Post:

The story of the passion, death and resurrection reminds us that Jesus surrendered his life for something--something new, which was fully revealed only on the morning of Easter Sunday. This profound image of death and resurrection, which lies at the absolute heart of Christian spirituality, may help the Catholic Church meditate on what it must do to be reborn.

But means that something has to die.

What needs to die is a clerical culture that long fostered power, privilege and secrecy. What needs to die is an attitude that had placed concern for a priest's reputation above that of a child's welfare. What needs to die is mindset in which investigations of dissident theologians and American Catholic sisters were more swiftly prosecuted than investigations of abusive priests. What needs to die is, in a word, a certain pride. All of this needs to be surrendered.

And it needs to be surrendered even if we don't know what will come of that surrendering. Did Jesus know for certain that he would be raised from the dead? "My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?" he cried from the cross in his agonizing last hours. Perhaps Jesus knew only that he was invited to give himself totally to his Father, abandoning his earthly project, offering up his body and surrendering his life. His dying was an act of complete trust.

For conversion is not simply a surrendering of what you can afford to give up. It means giving up things that are so much a part of you that you couldn't imagine yourself without them.

Read the rest here ... and give thanks for the courage of his important witness!


JCF said...

And now w/ a new Opus Dei Archbishop there in El Lay?! (Kyrie Eleison!) :-0

Time for All Saints (and every other TEC parish) to plant a new mission---you're gonna need 'em!

Happy Easter, Susan: He is Risen, Alleluia!

DavidJustinLynch said...

I agree with JCF. This is a golden opportunity for the Episcopal Church. We need a new brand of ecumenism, one that confronts the local Roman hierarchy rather than appease it. For example, leaflet cars around Roman churches on Sunday with literature in different languages. Send out mailings to predominately Roman neighborhoods. Hit them on their weak points: pedophile priests, outdated ideas about sex and marriage, celibacy, ordination of women, loss of traditional liturgy. Open ourselves to Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, Marian devotion, and invocation of saints (something a minority of Episcopalians already do, such as at St. Marys Palms) to meet their needs. Emphasize the democratic nature of our polity. This is our GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY handed to us by virtue of the unwise policy choices in the article to which I respond. I agree, the Roman church as it is now constituted must die. And I add: its people rise as Episcopalians!


David, I'm posting up your comment even though it creeps me out.

IMHO this is NOT a time to be "hitting at the weak" points of anybody and wishing "death" to the Roman Catholic Church! The institutional church has a lot to account for ... and, frankly, so has the Episcopal Church over the years.

Prayers for the victims and a commitment to keep our own house in order seems to me much more in order than orchestrated "sheep stealing" of Roman Catholic congregants.

Danielle said...

This realy struck a cord with me. I was born and raised Catholic, and I was confirmed in TEC almost a year ago. The RCC raised me and will always somehow be a part of me, and despite my non-involvement, it saddens me to see it all come to this. The RCC needs change, and sadly I don't see any change in sight(at the moment). I pray for all the Catholics in the world affected by this, God bless them.

JCF said...

I agree, Susan, that we don't need to TRY to "steal sheep" (and of course, we DO need to keep an eye on our own, {ahem} "affairs", as the Bennison Unpleasantness proves).

But I see nothing wrong w/ 1) Continuing to PROCLAIM the GOSPEL as we in TEC understand it (of course!), in EVERY direction (even if there be, oh, say an Opus Dei archbishop in the way), and 2) based upon past experience, ASSUME that a good # of RCs will decide they've had enough (and, PERHAPS, wish to look for Jesus elsewhere).

Quoth Stephen Colbert: "The Vatican says that only 4% of priests have ever abused children. That means that, out of 25 times w/ a priest, 24 times you'll receive care and support . . . but ONE time will have you run screaming to the Episcopal Church!"


JCF -- Abso-totally-lutely! But there's a big difference between keeping our doors and arms open and "sending out mailings to 'hit them at their weak points.'"

It was that I was reacting to.

DavidJustinLynch said...

I don't view recruiting Romans as "sheep stealing." Rather, we have a right, and indeed a duty, to respond to an unmet pastoral need for a safe place to be catholic (which Rome seems incapable of providing). The Roman Christian Unity Program has been for everyone to join them on their terms. Ours has been a willingness to adapt to those who join us. And I have a major problem with an organization that does not show us basic respect by such despicable conduct as: telling their members not to go to communion at Episcopal altars, not accepting our priests as priests, and not welcoming us to communion in their churches. It is time we insist that Rome respect us rather than just "take it."

DavidJustinLynch said...

And let's not forget Rome's recent recruitment plan aimed at Anglicans and why. The Pope is seeking to specifically to recruit those Anglicans hostile to "all the sacraments for all the baptized" by offering "personal ordinariates" where they can keep the Anglican liturgy. This activity can only further the very prejudices and discrimination that you, Susan are admirably working so hard to eliminate. It also says something about the quality of Anglican liturgy versus Rome's. Conversely, if we recruit their people, we offer a church not only with an outstanding liturgy but a place where the vulnerable can feel safe, where we have "all the sacraments for all the bapized." I am sure you, as a priest, have on more than one occasion dealt with a Roman family who has been turned away by their own church from one sacrament or another, be it baptism, marriage, confirmation, first communion, for some silly reason. We as a church are here for them.

nycjoe said...

I came across this article by a columnist for On Faith on ... who just so happens to be my fantastic rector, Bill Tully. Although in the column Bill is speaking of last year's news about the new Apostolic Constitution, I thought this paragraph was appropriate somehow:

What most [Roman Catholics] who come to us [TEC] want to get away from is centralized, exclusively male authority structures and the top-down insistence that some moral and practical questions are settled for all time. When they hear the Pope say the question of the ordination of women as priests cannot even be officially discussed, they are often ready to join a different conversation.

As a recent Catholic-turned-Episcopalian myself, I agree with Danielle. It will always be part of me, and it pains me to see it refuse to confront issues and to consider change...not only about the rape of children and subsequent systematic coverups (RICO, anyone?), but also about the nature and problems inherent in a celibate male priesthood, GLBT inclusion, etc.

I think there are really good points here from everyone. IMO, Susan has the best strategy: pray.

I will say that when I told my local priest I was leaving for TEC, he told me that I should probably consider myself excommunicated. I asked if I could have it in writing. (To be fair, my longtime "family priest" has been nothing but supportive of not only my coming out but of my leaving the RCC).

Proud to be received into TEC by a (woman!) bishop in April :)