OPINION: Can Men Survive and Grow In Faith in the Current Crisis?
The current frenzy of attention toward the failures of many in the Church leadership distresses many. But in every age the Church has had to face its failures in leadership and experience the process the psychologists call anomie. The society of the Church breaks down because of the lack of norms of the top leadership. As other leaders and top membership see no standard in dominant control they have enough doubts about the stated norms that they begin to fail in even the basics of what had been past common practice. The majority membership is confused by their own lack of morals and theological acumen which could have maintained their confidence and given them inertia to ride out the storm. The result ends up being a reorganization of the organism of the Church in order to survive. Up to now it always has survived and progressed. Is there reason to believe that the upcoming period of anomie will see individuals rise up to reclaim spiritual, moral and theological standards which will tend to the yearning for God in the common faithful or will the result be societal suicide or individual spiritual suicide?
One of the great spiritual classics calls us to take what we are offered in any moment and use it to the fullest spiritual advantage. This is articulated in the series of writings published as The Abandonment to Divine Providence or The Sacrament of the Moment by Jean Pierre de Cassaude S.J. This French priest wrote in an environment of clerical sexual scandal and abuse of power and money which had driven away many from the Church. This age of disappointment peaked when the people of France rose up and revolted against the powers of society including the estate of the clergy.
The subsequent decades and century resulted in a restoration of faith and turning toward God including embracing the greatest mysteries of our faith including the Immaculate Conception of Mary. Where are we in this process? Is there a coming revolt or will we transfer more quickly to an embrace of the treasure of faith which is easily accessible if we but desire it. The jury is out. The leadership has not yet found a way to respond to the faithful in satisfaction but waiting for such a day only delays our own happiness. The time is ripe and the tide will still come in whether we are surrounded by quisling or saint. Ergo the time has come for Croisé and many like it.
See the related article below on Suicide.
Preventing Our Suicide
In the 1890s French Sociologist Émile Durkheim conducted a study of suicide. He had determined that protestants had a higher suicide rate than Catholics. This was 300 years after the reformation so protestantism had a lot of time to seek its own end through many different forms of congregations, interpretations of scripture and morality and various leadership models. Those circumstances promoted less uniformity in practice. Durkheim posited that Catholics were still influenced by many norms of belief and behavior regarding daily experience of their religion. This was greatly due to a consistent model of centralized leadership, set of teachings and church calendar.
The protestants contrarily were greatly split and instead of generally accepted norms of faith across large sections of society they had experienced a breakdown of social standards which normally would influence behavior.
He believed that because Catholics would obtain various religious standards and social norms through the practice of faith that they had a greater inner stability that kept them from suicide more so than protestants. Because these were accepted by their general society they felt more connected and personally accomplished when they choose to fulfill their duty. They valued the norms coming from the group but their personal participation made them feel satisfied when other things in life may have failed. This no doubt included the social stratification of the time among all the estates.
Durkheim termed this phenomenon anomie rooted in the Greek word for "without laws." It has become broadly used since then in the worlds of psychology and sociology. His book Suicide was published and has remained a quoted work until this day.
There are many reasons people commit suicide but this idea that "accomplishment bonding" could help its prevention is worth consideration. The struggle of individuals to engage with other persons is very common. Many times children are limited in their experience of bonding and accomplishment behavior due to their consistent immediate environment
One of religion's core traits is that it does bring people together. Rituals are the very mode of gathering to express similarity. It seems obvious that if there are any qualifying requirements to more or less fully participate in the ritual, if promoted with conviction by the leaders conducting the rituals, they would definitely influence not only social union but even a shy individual's sense of self worth in relationship to the group by participating.
This brings us to Croisé. Although we participate in rituals such as the Holy Mass in our parishes as a group or mini-society we bond through the Adoration of the Most Blessed Sacrament at our Challenge Hours. The inner sense of accomplishment of being committed to the hours and of using the time to learn from the readings and preaching and declaring our appreciation for God together through song can bond us to both God and man and inner self. In this environment the competitive nature can be relaxed because our goals of prayer and whatever we do to serve God and Church do not exclude others but respects their ability to assist in whatever way they are truly capable and none of this involves the accumulation of mammon.
We are now faced (see Opinion article above) with a confusing sense of common norms at this time in the Church. Are the norms we have accepted which we have seen violated by many in the Church reveal to us some fault in the norms or merely in the individuals who hollowly called us to the standards we so freely admire? Think of many who consider suicidal thoughts when they are violated by those who proclaim noble and holy norms! And for anyone who needs to be able to more clearly see how to obtain an experience of the purity (holiness) that the norms actually contain Croisé must help. In the end the reason we gaze upon the Most Blessed Sacrament in adoration is because Our Lord is the one who not only proclaimed the norms by which He calls us to live but He was the one who demonstrated on His Cross that it was not an empty call to us. In every way He would be the Way by which each of us could realize that human failure in us or our Church leaders cannot defeat or limit the promise of The Kingdom. When we gather we must pray for all who are with us that each of us will be lifted by the tide instead of sinking into either depression, self pity or the mistaken conclusion that the blessings of the Lord will continue to escape us.
So is the suicide we consider here social - the Church at large giving up? Or it is the individual who becomes satisfied with escape into a daily death of the inner self? Neither are acceptable alternatives.
I believe that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit dwell inside me. Why should I pray before the Blessed Sacrament?
This question often comes up from non-Catholics (in addition to Catholics). The answer is rooted in understanding concupiscence and sacraments but here we will deal with concupiscence. Original sin affected mankind in many ways. We see the immediate affect in Adam and Eve in the brokenness of their relationship with each other. This is passed on to their children as we see Cain kill his brother Abel. The inability to see things as they are vs. the Divine Plan of God, the chaos of the emotions which pulls us toward misusing our bodies and the things of the world as God has intended and our turning away from God personally to seek our raison d'etre only in other people or an experience in our own mind and limbs are the affects of concupiscence.
But we find in our abiding with Christ, who never had original or any other sin, what we are missing in the worldly. This is being in the presence of one who uses the human rational capacity combined with the proper choice of the human will to its total goodness. No other relationship can bring this to any of us for no one else has accomplished it except St. Mary. But St. Mary is not physically with us as Jesus is through the Holy Eucharist.
To spend time in a relationship with Christ, which is assisted by the Holy Spirit and intended by the Father involving our body, mind, and will tends to heal the ill effects of concupiscence. Saints find that the more they recognize and accept the fact that Jesus is now present to them in this world in place and time (the Blessed Sacrament) the more they can focus the power of the mind and accomplish the disentanglement of the emotions. It is said if you are carrying a full bucket of water and do not want to spill it do not look at the bucket but look ahead at a fixed point. Your sense of balance will adjust toward what is ahead. In the case of Christ Our Lord we are not just looking at a piece of bread but rather at truth and love in its most potent material casing.
By its very occurrence this effort is driven by the free will of the soul. So body, mind and soul are drawn together through the focal point of the person of Christ which is presented directly in front of them offering no distraction whatsoever. This means the individual praying can at their leisure allow themselves to become pliable in the Holy Spirit to untie the knots which have made use of rational thought and truth hobnailed at best and completely dysfunctional at the worst. Time heals all wounds. The more times we behold the great majesty and calm beauty by sight the more good is done to us that we might imitate Christ in the same.
So, in the end the answer is that the Eucharist is a gift to us from God which we need due to our weaknesses. We are not a gift to the Eucharist, rather we must use this great gift in every way possible. In this case, the more we avail ourselves of it the greater the affect upon us. The result should be that we will enjoy placing ourselves in front of the Holy Eucharist more and more for it is the door to the depths of God which is unconquerable, unknowable and infinite.
Where Did the Bible Come From?
(Someone told me it fell from the sky!!)
In the movie The God's Must Be Crazy a soda bottle is dropped out of the sky from an airplane and found by a fellow wandering the African bush. Pretty soon the soda bottle is accredited with doing miraculous things. In the end it is just a glass bottle. Some people have this type of conception of where the Bible came from. Did it just drop out of the sky one day and was found by.....well who would have been the one to find it? This is the "movie" version of the Bible. The real way the Word of God came to be written in the words of men and then put in one biblia (the word for book) is more exciting in one way but less dramatic in another.
The Bible has two parts: the New and Old Testament.
The Old Testament writings were passed on from the rabbis and was accepted as so by the Church.
In the early Christian Church many writings were being circulated which told the story of Jesus and the activities of the early years of the Church. These were used during the celebration of the Eucharist and at other times to spread the faith. There were many questions about which writings should be considered "inspired" and "authentic." Eventually when the Church was free from persecution through the declarations of Emperor Constantine, the leaders were free to meet and discuss the important issues of how the Holy Spirit of God had worked to form the Church and explain to men the meaning of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This included which scriptures were "valid."
In the year 382 AD Pope Damasus requested that bishops and scholars including St. Augustine and St. Jerome the great linguist and scripture scholar gather together and make to him a recommendation about which writings should be considered inspired and which should not. This was referred to as the Council of Rome. Their recommendation was ratified by Pope Damasus and included the books of the Bible that we have today.
Why did the Pope do this? Because there was no other authority that could. Who else would be the authority to declare an official list of writings? If he did not agree with them there would still be a Gospel of Thomas, a Letter of Clement, the Letter From Me to Me, and many other writings that we would argue about concerning their inclusion in the Bible. In fact, there would not be a bible but rather a nebulous flotilla of scriptures found and used in different times and places for the particular purpose of men. So....Pope Damasus gave us the Bible (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
You can see that when the Church first started it did not have ANY scriptures except the Old Testament. What kept them together was the belief in the Resurrection of Jesus and recounting of the sayings of Christ and events of His life, and the Holy Eucharist which He gave them at the Last Supper so He could remain with them to keep them together and accomplish the mission He sent them on.