Friday 23 December 2011

The "Unheard" Scream?

The Daily Telegraph has a frightening reminder as the the daily reality of Christian life in the Middle East. Former Christian nations - such as Egypt and Iraq - present the daily horror of persecution while the nominally Christian "West" ignores their "unheard" cry.

Thursday 22 December 2011

The Lahey Affair

Disgraced Catholic bishop Raymond Lahey apologized in court Tuesday for possessing child pornography, telling a judge he had an “indiscriminate” addiction to online pornography but didn’t seek help because of his high-ranking position in the church. Ottawa Citizen

The crowd is gathered around Bishop Raymond Lahey, jeering and reaching down to pick up stones. The feelings of anger and betrayal are understandable. Lahey was caught in the act and his apology did not come until the full consequences of his actions were made plain to him. His ability to lead a double life is truly shocking. Who will be the one to cast the first stone?

It is easy to cast ourselves in the role of an angry Jesus making a whip out of cord and driving the moneychangers out of the temple. While Jesus was consumed by zeal for his Father's house it is easy for us to forget our own place in the scheme of things and be driven by far less lofty motives. We are not without sin.

In the Lahey affair we have caught someone in the very act of committing sin. However our own place is not that of the righteous judge seeking to cleanse the temple. On the contrary, we are the crowd standing there with stones in our hands surrounding a woman caught in the very act of committing adultery. The woman is guilty. Neither the crowd nor Jesus have any doubt about her guilt and there is no evidence of repentance on her part aside from fear of the consequences of her actions. One is left to wonder whether the one who was betrayed was also in the crowd, for adultery is also an act of betrayal. "Let the one among you who is guiltless be the first to thow a stone at her." Jesus does not belabor the obvious guilt of the woman, but instead uses the incident to point out the sinfulness of all present.

Like the woman caught in adultery, Lahey's guilt is blatant and obvious to all concerned. He has been convicted of a crime under civil law and when that process is complete he will be defrocked as well. How we respond to the Lahey affair says far more about ourselves than anything else. It also brings us face to face with one of the hardest dilemmas we can face. How shall we deal with those who have caused us pain and hurt? Who will be the one to cast the first stone?

Friday 9 December 2011

The New English Translation - Will it continued to be Abused?

I've been following with interest the use of and reaction to the new English translation of the Mass. I've also tried to put aside some time to read the then Cardinal Ratzinger on the liturgy. My belief is that the Mass should be approached as a spiritual action that is both cognitive and physical - as we are beings that are a composite of soul and body. Neither being angels nor brute animals, our spiritual life is conducted through and in (though not exclusively) a physical world via cognitive activity. Mass, contains spiritual realities which are mediated through physical action: be they movement or words spoken, guided by the human mind, inspired by God.

Mass is word and action. Abuse one and you corrupt the other, you corrupt the Mass. Examples that stand out are the televised Masses that present a mixed bag: those that follow the rubrics and those that even end up with the words of Consecration being changed.

The question remains: though the liturgy has certainly been clarified in its texts, will the text be followed? Will actions be in accord with the mind of the Church? I believe it was Pope Paul who referred to the renewal of the liturgy being "futile"if it was abused.

In conclusion I fear that the hoped for improvement will be missed. For those who were already following the Church, these texts will certainly improve the celebration of Mass. For those who abused and continue to abuse the liturgy nothing will be gained. It is time for bishops to enforce the law of the Church as keepers of the liturgy in their respective dioceses, in union with Pope and his decrees. 

Pope Benedict to the Australian Bishops, October 20, 2011: 

"You are conscious of your special duty to care for the celebration of the liturgy. The new translation of the Roman Missal, which is the fruit of a remarkable cooperation of the Holy See, the bishops and experts from all over the world, is intended to enrich and deepen the sacrifice of praise offered to God by His people. Help your clergy to welcome and to appreciate what has been achieved, so that they in turn may assist the faithful as everyone adjusts to the new translation. As we know, the sacred liturgy and its forms are written deeply in the heart of every Catholic. Make every effort to help catechists and musicians in their respective preparations to render the celebration of the Roman Rite in your dioceses a moment of greater grace and beauty, worthy of the Lord and spiritually enriching for everyone".
Out of the Mouth of Pagans

Have you ever had one of those friends who babbles on a bit but you listen anyway on the chance that something brilliant might pop out? Well I do... his other friends call him "farm boy" but I often refer to him as simply "the Pagan", a bit of a Latin joke. The Pagan has somehow decided to read Dante's Inferno and has come to the conclusion that it is all far too real. The various punishments meted out in hell mirror the sorts of traps that people can find themselves in on earth. Those suffering from lust are blown about by violent winds and storms with no hope of rest. Gluttons are condemned to blind self indulgence while the wasteful and miserly are at constant war with each other. In each case the punishment is merely an extension of the web woven during the person's life. We have all seen this dynamic at work in ourselves and other people. The odd thing is that nobody seems very anxious to get out except of course Satan. Hell is truly locked on the inside. Satan remembers and his struggles to escape fuel the winds that keep him ensnared, feeding on the most foul traitors. I am going to go read it and I recommend the Longfellow translation and reading it aloud.

The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri