Thursday, November 13, 2014

"Catholic"by John Chuchman

I strive to be Catholic
in the oldest and deepest sense of the term
with a sensibility grounded in mystical spirituality,
not parochial Roman Catholicism.

I try to be engaged in the pressing issues of the day
with a loving intelligence, freedom, and boldness,
self-confidently Catholic in its truest sense.

I treasure a heritage that traces all the way back
 to the greatest of early Christian theologians
who combined an unswerving embrace of Love and Faith
with a willingness to subject obscure or undefined elements of that faith
to critical examination.

I strive to dedicate my mind to follow the path of truth
wherever it might lead.

I am convinced that the tension between intelligence
and a heart committed to love
is a creative tension.

I appreciate both the necessity for truth embodied in specific forms and words
and the reality that truth transcends all such specific embodiment.

That this heritage is so imperiled in todays church
makes it all the more precious.

The space I seek to occupy is a tight one,
difficult to maintain in a world
that insists I either mindlessly adhere to hierarchical teachings
or recklessly reject the wisdom of the past in the name of enlightenment.

In such a world, the notion that I can be liberal in some ways
while conservative in others
seems too difficult for many to grasp.

I find myself split between fundamentalists and modernists.

On issues such as the religious leadership of women
or the inclusion of homosexuals,
many invoke the unswerving authority
of fundamentalist Scripture or the hierarchical magisterium,
while I mistrust mindless obedience.


Meanwhile, the distance between liberals and conservatives
—an inadequate but unavoidable distinction—
inexorably grows,
deepened by chronic misunderstanding and distrust.

If the religiously liberal regard traditionalists as dumb sheep,
the latter regard the former as wolves out to ravage the flock.

Mutual acceptance remains difficult to find
and almost impossible to sustain,
and so the two groups drift ever further
into a kind of ghettoized separation.

I espouse liberal convictions,
increasingly finding myself at the margins of a tradition
many wish to freeze,
while I take refuge in a healthy growing conscience.

I feel more at home in a Small Faith Group
(Intentional Eucharistic Community)
than at the local parish.

The flight of Catholic intellectuals from the clergy and the parish
has led to a dismaying split
between a loving intellect
and the church as the repository of rite and ritual.

This loss of the loving mind
has had sorry consequences across the board,
as the church has severed the link
between critical thinking and faith.

In Catholicism, the tradition of the learned pastor is virtually dead.

Rare is the bishop or parish priest
who can hazard a critical reflection in a sermon
or other public setting.

The protectors of Catholic orthodoxy are vigilant,
ever ready to identify and judge me a heretic
for simply living and speaking my conscience.

Hiding my true faith, or abandoning it altogether,
is increasingly the price of friendship
with family and friends
who are willing to simply
pay, pray, obey,

a price I am unwilling or unable to pay.

I strive to be a Fundamental Catholic,
not a Catholic Fundamentalist.

I can
and must
use
my head AND my heart
Catholic evermore,
Roman never again.

I view the Creator,
Both noun and verb,
As BEING-in-Love
being closest to God
Being in Love.


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