i.d.entity Crisis (Part 2 of 2)

Conversione-di-san-Paolo-Caravaggio

(Click here for Part I)

So, this is what the Church is and who we are as her members… in theory. But why doesn’t this description of the Catholic Church match what we actually see? Why don’t we seem like “fools in love?” Why aren’t we making “a scene?” Perhaps it is because we as a Church have lost sight of how the walk of a disciple begins and from where it finds its roots – an encounter.

“God is not some topic to study, but a person to meet” (Ralph Martin, Called to Holiness, pg. 9.) This assertion is substantiated in crystal-clear fashion by simply reading the Bible, where one repeatedly finds accounts of people’s encounters with a living God. Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Peter, Paul, to name a few, had a definite moment when the Lord “passed them by” (go here to see Dr. Mary Healy’s terrific insight on this phrase). It is only after such an encounter that their lives were forever changed into a holy recklessness for God.

Why would it be any different for us? Scripture is not a collection of nice stories, but God Himself, presented to us in His Word, showing us how we should live. Thus, taking Scripture at its word (pun intended), suggests to us the question: if we do not meet the Lord, how can we follow Him? In order to follow anybody you have to meet them!

The Christian walk must be more than just encouraging one another with good ideas about ‘living better.’ It is about power. That dynamic and ever-new power of God changing our hearts and moving our lives from the inside out. If we have not been touched by the white-hot power of God, then how can the fires of our hearts burn with love for Him and His people? We don’t need cheerleading, we need the very life of God within us.

This ‘encounter’ element is the foundational line to a drumbeat Pope Francis has been sounding throughout his pontificate, and before. Check out his response to this first question (as well as the whole interview):

Notice how then-Fr. Bergolio mentioned this ‘encounter’ as a work of the Spirit. It is a curious thing that the Apostles themselves, after Jesus had ascended, had no idea how to be disciples. After spending three full years with Jesus Himself (imagine that…) they still hid in a room, shaking in their boots, having no idea what direction to go in and how to live out all He had taught them. Indeed Jesus anticipated this because he told them to wait there until they received something. Then, that something happened.

That something was Pentecost. They received the Holy Spirit, the Person whom Jesus died and rose to give us. It was an encounter with the Spirit which “transformed them into courageous witnesses to Christ” (John Paul II, Redemptoris Missio, #87) that catapulted them out of their concealed sanctuary. It was this baptism in the Holy Spirit that freed men and women to be missionary disciples.

Once again, how can it be any different for us? If we are in desperate need of an encounter with God, of a personal relationship with Our Savior, how can we not need the reality which makes that relationship “come alive” – our own personal Pentecost? If you listen to the popes over the last 50 years, if would seem it is what we need more than anything, both individually and collectively as a Church:

 “More than once we have asked ourselves what the greatest needs of the Church are… what is the primary and ultimate need of our beloved and holy Church? We must say it with holy fear because, as you know, this concerns the mystery of the Church, her life: this need is the Spirit… the Church needs her eternal Pentecost; she needs fire in her heart, words on her lips, a glance that is prophetic.” (Pope Paul VI, General Audience, Nov. 29 1972)

How I long to find the right words to stir up enthusiasm for a new chapter of evangelization full of fervor, joy, generosity, courage, boundless love and attraction! Yet I realize that no words of encouragement will be enough unless the fire of the Holy Spirit burns in our hearts. (Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium, #261)

Once again, it becomes smolderingly clear that the life of a missionary disciple is not about a worldview, principles or intellectual assent so much as it is a life lived, literally, “in Christ” through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thus, in conclusion, if this is what the Church is, then this is what we seek to be in i.d.916 – a community of missionary disciples. A body of men and women who have encountered the Lord and thereby “walk by the Spirit,” seeking to radically follow Him on His mission to all peoples.

O Lord, may it be so!

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True Love – Part I

Macklemore-Ryan-Lewis-Same-Love-Music-Video By Peter Herbeck

“We press play, don’t press pause, Progress, march on! With a veil over our eyes, we turn our back on the cause. ‘Till the day that my uncles can be united by law…a certificate on paper isn’t going to solve it all, but it’s a damn good place to start…whatever God you believe in we come from the same one, strip away the fear, underneath, it’s all the same love. About time that we raised up! Love is patient, love is kind. Love is patient, love is kind…”

These are some of the lyrics of an enormously popular song by hip-hop artist Macklemore called Same Love. The song, which has gone viral with nearly fifty million views of the music video version, is about homosexuality and same-sex marriage. Over the past few weeks a number of young people have brought up the song in conversation. Just yesterday a twenty-two year old relative of mine, asked me if I had ever heard the song. He raised the question in the context of a discussion we were having about same-sex marriage. He pointed out that it is not only a very catchy song and fun to listen to, but that it is confusing because the story it tells is that true love, God’s love, embraces same-sex marriage.

In fact, Macklemore ends the song by repeating words from 1 Corinthians 13, “Love is patient, love is kind,” which is arguably the most famous passage on love in the entire Bible. In essence, what he is saying is, to love like Jesus loves, the love that is patient and kind, the love that is the opposite of “hate,” is a love that celebrates homosexual acts and fights for the legalization of same-sex marriage. That’s the argument.

It’s essentially the same argument, without explicit appeal to the New Testament, that Justice Anthony Kennedy presented in the decision of the majority of justices on the Supreme Court who struck down DOMA, the Defense of Marriage Act, which recognized marriage as being defined by one man and one woman. Justice Anton Scalia summarized the majority opinion this way: “In the majority’s telling, this story is black-and-white: Hate your neighbor or come along with us. The truth is more complicated.”

Indeed, the truth about love is more complicated. From a Catholic point of view, there is no love without the truth. Love and truth always go together. In his homily during the canonization of Edith Stein, Pope John Paul II said that St. Teresa Benedicta, the “martyr of love,” taught us all that “love and truth have an intrinsic relationship,” and that “love and truth need each other.”

The truth love seeks is the good of the other. That is, to love someone means that I will their good. I want what is best for them. What is best for every person is what will lead to genuine human flourishing and this only happens when we “live the truth.” That is, when live the life we were made to live, when we recognize how God made us, and live in accord with his plan for our lives.

Pope John Paul continued: “St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross says to us all: Do not accept anything as the truth if it lacks love. And do not accept anything as love which lacks truth! One without the other becomes a destructive lie.”

This is why St. Paul, in the very passage Macklemore quotes, says that love “does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right” (1 Corinthians 13:6). What Macklemore and so many others are demanding is that in the case of active homosexuality and same-sex marriage, in order to love, we must “rejoice in what is wrong.”

*Stay tuned for True Love – Part II which will focus on the Church’s Teaching and the ‘Dictatorship of Relativism*