Three witness but not
may have expected
. I am writing about three witnesses to my own heart about my response to the Church and the cultural climate of Catholicism today, certainly in North American. By noting them here, I do not hide the idea that I do think these ideas witness to the experience of people other than me.
ONE: What my dear friend in the faith Russ said,
Russ Rentler 20 April 23:17
It’s either the Church Jesus started or not, warts and all.
If one claims to be Catholic, they have given up the “right” to decide what’s the best “worship.” Those who insist that one rite is better than another (even though the Vatican has approved all rites) come perilously close to making the same mistake that the [Protestant] reformers made. They “knew” more than the Magisterium of the Church, putting themselves on par with the Holy Spirit.
I have spent 31 years of my life as a [P]rotestant, believing all manner of false doctrines and participating in unorthodox worship. So if I now experience a mass that is less than orthodox, or has some degree of liturgical abuse in it, as long as the Eucharist is validly consecrated with proper form and matter, Jesus is there and I can offer my sacrifice in union with Him to the Father, which is my truest and reasonable sacrifice of worship, regardless of bad homilies, crappy music, banners from the 70′s et cetera.
I am thankful to be Catholic and have had the opportunity to receive Him in any Catholic Church I have ever been to around the world, from Ireland to Haiti to Los Angeles, California.
“I wonder if those who are critical of their local parishes spent just one year in some of the [P]rotestant churches I have belonged to over the years…. after a year without the sacraments, they’d be begging to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, even at a “Barney Mass”. (Yes in my [P]rotestant life, I received crackers and grape juice from someone dressed as a clown, and have lived to tell the tale.)
The worse “liturgical abuse” IMHO, is being in schism with the Church Jesus started, warts and all.”
I’m tempted to add my own commentary but safe to say, I agree!, and move on to my next witness.
TWO: What Fr.Bill gave me. The gift words Bl. John Paul II from a talk given to the Taizé community in 1986
Do not be content to criticize passively or to wait for persons or institutions to become better. Go towards the parishes, the student organizations, the different movements and communities, and patiently bring them the force of your youth and the talents you have received. Bring your trust and support to the ministers of the Church; they are your servants in the name of Jesus, and for that reason you need them. The Church needs your presence and your participation. If you remain within the Church, you will of course at times be upset by divisions, internal tensions and the sorry state of its members, but you will receive from Christ, who is the Head, his Word of Truth, his own Life, and the Breath of Love that will enable you to love him faithfully and to make your life a success by risking it in a joyful gift for others. (…)”
On a Spring evening Fr. Bill and I were chatting about some significant development in my life when he smiled and reached for something he had just printed out. It was the words above which I later found
. He passed the printout to me, folding and saying, “read this later,” in response to something I had mentioned to him as we were wrapping up. What I said was –
THREE: What that Jesus said and did in Matthew 16 [13-20]
Jesus, Second Person of the Holy Trinity, very God of very God and therefore not given, by (divine) nature, to goofing up, getting it wrong or making mistakes of judgement chooses Peter of, “No way would I deny you Jesus, I’d even die for you” but later, “Me? No, never heard of the guy” first to turn tail and run back to the fishing nets fame, to be the Rock on
wish which Christ would build His Church, effectively making this sinful Christ denying man the first ‘Pope.’
Had I been there I would have suggested to Jesus that perhaps He might want to check in with the Father. But then had I been there I would have been right beside Peter asking for room to stand around the coals while the King of the Jesus was judged by mortal man.
It’s just been cycling over and over in my heart and mind since I first really let this choice of the Christ’s settle in my spirit. Jesus, on purpose, inherently tied the limitation and failure and misplaced zeal of we humans to the very institution of the Church. How could this have been a mistake? What do I think it means? The invisible, visible and indivisible Church Herself is one, holy, catholic and apostolic but–as the cliché runs–but Her individual members are not always unified, not always holy in our own life, we dissent from Her universal and Magesterial teaching, we exhibit tendencies toward not being obedient unless we happen to be predisposed to a certain position an authority takes which is no obedience at all. (Yeh, we can bemoan our Protestant brethren all we like but we might want to look over our rosaries and into the mirror a little more often.)
Simply put, Jesus in intentionally choosing Peter as the visible head under Himself the true and absolute Head of the Church knit human imperfection together with the Divine.
Rather than spell it out now I will pretend this is the part where the track loops and we hear again,
It’s either the Church Jesus started or not, warts and all.
Do not be content to criticize passively or to wait for persons or institutions to become better.
‘Lord, send a revival, and let it begin in me.’ [cf.]
Oh, and don’t you worry, you orthodox, heterodox, silly ox,
I am most certainly preaching to myself at least as much as anyone else
. God, let the dry bones dance [
Now, I’m going to hand this back off to my friend Russ because I find this song of his* to be the perfect tie-in and wrap-up. God bless you, dear reader.
*Yes, Russ is not only a medical doctor and medical missionary and passionate re-vert to the Catholic Church, he is an accomplished singer songwriter with several albums oeuvre.