Tuesday, June 13, 2017

OpenCatholic: The Third Stage (including qualified insights and personal exhortations!)

There is a great danger in writing about the Catholic faith in that it is easy - very easy - to slip into heresy, or at least to make a colossal fool of oneself.  I don't know if the same danger applies to other religions - I suppose it would. Though what a Protestant heresy in our informed Age would look like passes me by somewhat...but I (purposefully) digress.....

Still the point is that heresy is bad. Very bad. It is a misdirection of the mind and the heart, of oneself and potentially anyone within earshot (or who reads blogs). Embraced, heresy is a mortal sin. So - in my religion, at least - that means eternal damnation, and I am not inclined to want to damn myself or others, you'll be glad to hear. You might say I am sensitive to heresy. So sensitive in fact that I have written very few blogs over the past several months as....well, let's back up a bit.

From my present perspective I perceive three stages in my life as a Catholic. In the initial stage I was filled with the Holy Spirit and battered about the world free of guile or worry or concern. I allowed myself to be led by the nose, as it were, by a renewed and uplifted heart. This is not the time to review the writings from that era, except to say: I apologize for whatever was stupid, and I take no credit for whatever was worthwhile.

In the second phase (now mercifully concluded. trust me.) I took care that my writing should conform to the precepts of the Church. I mean I took care to the point that I did not write much at all except to concern myself with the precepts of the Church. For this writing I again apologize. Not for what was wrong (though plenty was, I'm sure) but for sententiousness, pretentiousness, etc., while again taking no credit for what might have been not utterly damnable.

The third phase commences now.

I am happy and relieved that the third phase opens with an apology:  I wish I could do more right now than write this silly blog. But I am called to write as a beaver is called to gnaw on harmless trees, as the rain is called to moisten the earth to help grow harmless trees, etc., so I will do what I can to make all our time reading this profitable, but I will not over-concern myself with endeavoring to prove one point or another that has been proven already.

Rather than ratify, I will write. Those are two very different things, even for a Christian.

Without stating what others have stated better than I can ever state it (St. Paul, anyone?), without belaboring duty, mission, sacrifice, and truth, we can say with confidence that Christ charges us to live our lives transformed to his image, his form, his Way. Whatever one's precondition, one can scarcely glance at the parables and not wish to emulate the Lord. Well, what do I say to this? As a layperson, I say I have been granted as a pure, unmerited gift this very urge, to live my life, to be who I am, and yet in the image of God.

Pause a moment to consider this point. It is perhaps the most incredible assertion a person is capable of making. I mean that by the power of the Holy Spirit my life once lived for itself is lived for God and that by His grace I may be sanctified in this life and merit eternal life. Okay then!

But, what does this mean for OpenCatholic?

For one thing it means no fear. It means that if you believe in Christ then there is nothing to prevent you from opening yourself to the world, exactly as it is formed, to its culture, its politics, and throwing yourself at your life without the slightest hesitation. DO. NOT. FEAR. In practical terms, I have found that the Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC) is an excellent guide for negotiating social and political issues. If you can't get to the CCC then trust the Pope or your priest. Ask questions! And when in doubt, GO WITH YOUR GUT! Your gut, your instincts, are transformed in Christ. You will make mistakes. So, confess those mistakes and ask God's forgiveness. You will do good. So, THANK GOD for his kindness.

TRUST GOD. If I wrote nothing else in my life than those two words I would consider my writing career justified. TRUST GOD. Who or what else merits your complete personal confidence?

Science? Oh, you mean that branch of human understanding that has been constantly evolving and still is every day? Hurrah for science (gift of God that it is) but it's nothing in which to put your trust.

Politics? HA HA HA HA OH MY GOD YOU MUST BE KIDDING. Sorry. I mean, yes, embrace politics for what you can do for yourself and others politically. But trust? Ummmmm, no. Recognize and employ, sure. But keep one hand on the trigger of prayer. (That my expression , by the way. If you use it I want credit. JUST KIDDING!)

Art? Okay, that's not fair. Really, you're hitting below the belt. Yes, you should trust yourself in art, or the occurrence and manifestation of art as a transformative, sublime experience. Buuuuut, you have got to delineate, right? The Brady Bunch ain't Band of Gypsies. I THINK I HAVE MADE MY POINT!

Family? Well that's a funny one. God is family, at least in my religion. We have a Father, a Son, and a presiding Spirit of Truth. And we have a Mother, give to us by God, from the Cross, The Blessed Virgin, Mary. So, yeah. Believe in family. Believe HARD in family.

And in everything, pause and reflect. The big picture does not fail. Reach for it, then reach higher, and when in doubt ask for help from the saints who surround you or from the source and summit. It's your call. Live, love, move, and do not be dissuaded from the truth.

The peace of Christ be with you.