For Catholic and Protestant readers alike, there may be some confusion about what is going on in the Catholic Church right now. In times of great uncertainty a tendency lies in the human heart to pull back into what is known, into the security of old, tried and true, and that can be seen in every life. The Church has a life, too. The Church is doing the same thing.
As a hermit I am not part of a parish. I worship at the Abbey of Gethsemani, and do not involve my mind in the squabbles and troubles of the larger church. Why not? My life is about prayer, not about politics national or ecclesiastical. Some have suggested that I do not talk enough about abortion, homosexuality, this or that. Let me be clear, it is not my job, under any sense of the word, to speak on these things for no matter what the Church teaches, I do not live at the level of dogma and doctrine, I live at the level of prayer.
Life is full of uncertainties. An institution as large as the Roman Catholic Church is in a stage of great uncertainty. It is not the first time the Church has been in such a spot. In the space of two hundred years there were 7 Councils of the Church called to settle such things as, the divinity and humanity of Christ, the Trinity, Grace, fighting heresies that denied that Jesus lived as a human being, etc., so on, and so forth. Seven in two hundred years. If that is not a period of uncertainty then I don’t know what is.
After the age of enlightenment the Church did not engage with the scientific disciplines, no, it battened down the theological hatches and retrenched to former positions. That did not work. Yes, it took nearly one hundred fifty years for that to change, but it did eventually change. All things change.
Let me share my image of the Church. It is like a glacier. It weighs millions of tons and moves forward very, very slowly. On the leading edge of the glacier is gravel, crushed by the slow but inexorable movement of the glacier. Those pebbles once were giant boulders. Toward the main body of the glacier are still boulders that the glacier is slowly crushing down to pebbles. The Church is a glacier, moving slowly, taking the times of change, testing them, and slowly crushing down the boulders of fear and uncertainty into the gravel of resolution.
We think of right now and the span of our lives. The Church thinks in terms of centuries. All things must be tested, the truth discovered, and then rejected or accepted. That is what the Church does, it tests, searches for the truth and then acts. The most difficult time to be alive is during a time of change. The entire world is in a time of change.
If you remember nothing of this post remember this: we, you and I, are the body of Christ. We exist within Christ’s Church as part of his body. We have access to God through prayer without the mediation of anyone. We do not need Oracles to tell us what to do, we have prayer. Use prayer in this time of uncertainty, turn to God and not to anything else. God alone is our reality. If you put your faith in anything other than God, then is it really faith?
All personal vows we are likely to make, all personal oaths and pledges we are likely to take between this Yom Kippur and the next Yom Kippur, we publicly renounce. Let them all be relinquished and abandoned, null and void, neither firm nor established. Let our personal vows, pledges and oaths be considered neither vows nor pledges nor oaths