Friday, 25 October 2013

God Meets Us Where We Are

Even though God is always calling us to constant conversion and growth, and even though we are imperfect and sometimes sinful people, God loves us as we are now. As the Indian Jesuit Anthony de Mello said, “You don’t have to change for God to love you.” This is one of the main insights of the First Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola: We are loved even in our imperfections.

Recently a dear friend and priest of ours expressed his concern about the complete lack of interest by Roman Catholics to participate in parish faith development programs.

It could be said that the reason why some young families are reluctant to participate is that both parents may work and these programs could take away valuable time spent with their kids.   For the same reason elderly couples may not find it comfortable to attend because they are afraid to drive after dark  Similarly other folks may not want to take part in these programs when led by lay people who are automatically suspect due to the  lack or absence of any proper religious (not faith experienced) authority.

It seems that some Roman Catholics have a need for the ever present and visible religious authority.  Yes, God is important, but only an ordained individual such as the Pope, can provide them with the exact boundaries under which ‘religion’ can be understood and practised.  The freedom offered under Vatican II has caused a lot of Traditional Roman Catholics to experience an unfamiliar and heightened level of anxiety.  The most recent growing angst or ‘religious’ anxiety they say can only be blamed on something or someone else. According to a few, Pope Francis' off the cuff remarks, the secular press, certain stalwart liberals and growing ‘organized’ elements of the gay and atheist communities are responsible for hi-jacking of ‘our faith’. There’s no question, ever since John XXIII first opened the windows and then the doors of the institution did the devil and  all the other miscreants (some of whom are mentioned above) did the Roman Catholic Church turn its back on the only real ideals of religion (not faith).

Everyone, or so it would seem, therefore has an excuse for not participating in any 'questionable' efforts to return the church to its rightful place.  Even if Jesus said that he came to save all. Or did he mean only the select few that had rigorously observed the law?

The Christian duty, we have been properly given to understand, is to attend Mass regularly while being an obedient and generous spectator. And, is it not the duty of the clergy to look after the welfare of our souls?  To ensure that are infants are baptised, our children confirmed, the church hall made tidy and available when they are ready to marry?  Finally, do we not need our priests to offer us a just-in- time pardon before the final send off to our heavenly reward?  Here we will find salvation in a five star room exclusively reserved for all ‘good’ Roman Catholics.  At the same time, but well away from this property, we can know for certain that a few deficient individuals, shall be sharing an somewhat overcrowded closet filled with heretics and other non-believers.

Wait, wait! That thing about salvation, living a life to the full, a truth that will set us free, experiencing healing, peace and forgiveness, . . . . . ?

Well, for that you will have to attend your parish faith development or  the once much vibrant ‘renew’ program’!    Faith is a gift to you from God - not the church which has its own gifts.  So it is up to me and you to exercise this gift and take full ownership God's gift of faith. God meets us were we are - not where others would have us be. 
 Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God. - 1 Corinthians 1:26-29      



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