Friday, April 21, 2006
More Catholic stuff
St. Ignatius of Loyola developed his Spiritual Exercises to help develop & practice being able to discern what helps move us closer to God, what opens us up & makes us more loving (movements of consolation) and what moves us farther, what closes us off & makes it harder for us to love (movements of desolation.)
My friend Doug talks about knowing that a movement is good if it brings us closer to ourselves (personal authenticity; be your own self), closer to others, and closer to God.
So all of this seems to make quite a bit of sense, and of course there's nothing that says a person has to be Catholic because of that.
But, if exploring Catholicism, going to Mass, regularly talking to Catholics about how they understand their spirituality, and praying -- if all of these readily make me feel more loving, more courageous, more hopeful, more patient -- then this seems to be a good thing. And does seem to indicate that, for me, there is wisdom in moving closer to this community.
Now, obviously there are problems within this community, and obviously there are ways in which the problems even within this community extend out and risk harming others (I'm thinking of the Vatican's dissemination of false info about condom effectiveness in areas ravaged by HIV/AIDS, specifically, but other things - hey, witch burnings - could be included here.) Yes. Yes, there is sexual abuse. Yes, there is an essentialist view of women even amongst some of the more 'progressive' folks. Yes to all of that. And obviously I have to come to terms with that. And I don't want to minimize it.
I was talking to a Jesuit scholastic the other day who has an extensive background in politics, and significant reasons for disareeing with the Church's sexual teachings, and hated the Church. He left as a teenager, never to come back, or so he thought. And coming back was hard. Further, he says that even now, the tension never really goes away. The tension between 'what is now' and 'what is to come.' The tension between the 'now' of Ratzinger & the recent Vatican document* about rooting homosexuality out of the seminary & all that, and the 'what is to come' of -- well, that's a mystery. The words 'God's kingdom' ring a little hollow to me. They remind me too much of those crazy Christians. The crazy ones. Yes. And it's going to take me a long time before I can wrap my mind or my heart about what exactly Christians mean by resurrection. But I believe a better world will come. In which we really actually fucking love each other, all of us, recognizing our unity in God. I can't point to any statistic, or trend, or data, or anything, that would prove this. But I believe it.
And further, I always have believed it, even before I admitted to myself that a holy mystery might have something to do with it. Faith, hope, and love.
I'll finish this blog post with a quote from Karl Rahner, a theologian that I really dig-- one of the biggies from the 20th century & an adviser at Vatican II. This is from an essay that I read about a month ago, when I was first thinking that maybe I could be a Catholic:
Hence when we say that one should learn from the experience of one's life whehter Christianity is the truth of life, this does not demand anything which is beyond us. It simply tells us: ally yourself with what is genuine, with the challenging, with what demands everything, with the courage to accept the mystery within you. it simply tells us: go on, wherever you may find yourself at this particular moment, follow the light even though it is as yet dim; guard the fire even though it burns low as yet; call out to the mystery precisely because it is incomprehensible. Go, and you will find -- hope, and your hope is already blessed interiorly with the grace of fulfillment. Anyone who sets out in this manner may be far from the officially constituted Christianity; he may feel like an atheist, he may think fearfully that he does not believe in God -- Christian teaching and conduct of life may appear strange and almost oppressive to him. But he should go on and follow the light shining in the innermost depth of his heart. This path has already arrived at the goal.From Karl Rahner, "Thoughts on the possibility of belief today," in Theological Investigations (1966). I copied that into my journal March 25. On March 22 I wrote in my journal that I wanted some sort of proof, some sort of 'bang!' flash of light. On March 12 I wrote in my journal "What is the mystical? What is in that silent still place? What was it I used to try to reach? I'm honestly more comfortable with the idea of magic than of God. If there is a God there is no getting off the hook. The promise is infinite, and so is the demand. Am I capable of that?" So you can see there's some development. (And also why it's good that I have a journal that no one sees, as well as a blog!)
Alright. So... I could go on about other stuff I've been reading, or other thoughts about how/why the Church is both messed up (human!) and divine, but what I've written is probably the core of what I've been thinking lately. So, I don't think I'm crazy, and I'm certainly not going to become a mindless drudge (I doubt St. Thomas Aquinas, even with all of his particular shortcomings when it comes to writing about women, would approve of that).
Off to go indulge in the delightfully Catholic pastime of drinking, with two non-Catholics, Reuben & his friend Bryant. Huzzah!
* Update, 22 April -- I had 'encyclical' here, but Doug corrected me. I need to brush up on my differing levels of Vatican documents! Anyway, the document re. homosexuality in the seminaries is much less formal than an encyclical -- as i undersatnd it, it's more of a directive to folks, from the Vatican's education 'dicastery' (like a department). Thanks Doug!
jane 5:11 PM [+]