Saturday, February 11, 2017

Seriously Catholic: Seriously Open

This Easter I will have been five years in the Church. In August of 2012 I set up and published my first blog for OpenCatholic and have been publishing steadily since then. The OpenCatholic idea boils down to sharing something you love with people you love and it has remained steady in that focus even as I and the world have changed. This blog is after all a form of evangelization. I use this platform to declare the Christian faith. There is nothing special or different in what I do here. I am not remarkable; my faith is. And so I use this platform to show evidence of how my faith works upon me and the world in various ways.

Faith is experienced in two ways. One can write about one's interior experience or one can write about exterior experiences. Interior experience might go under the heading of Personal Revelation, or Conversion; exterior experiences under that of Good Works. These modes of operating as a Christian often inform each other, such as when one is called to perform good works, or when an experience leads to conversion. I am interested in how we travel from the interior to the exterior and back again - that is, in what we do with our Christianity; and more so, I am interested in the ways we reach out from ourselves to others, either by helping or allowing ourselves to be helped. This is where OpenCatholic places itself, in the space between the Catholic and the non-Catholic while attempting to cover what is exclusive to both individuals as well as shared ground. OpenCatholic is therefore both evangelical and inclusive, or it aims to be so.

It's a tricky proposition, but a Christian one, I believe. One must reach out to spread the news. One cannot speak unless one is willing to listen. One cannot listen without respecting what a person has to say. What we say of persons applies to cultures. If we generalize negatively about culture then we have no standing to object when others generalize negatively about the Catholic Church. There is no point to stating various truths if all it does is make us feel good about ourselves for having issued those statements. Hearts must be opened, but if our hearts and minds are closed to the world around us - then who, pray tell, is in need of conversion?

The answer, some might say, is that all are in need of continuing conversion, but that position does not quite suffice if one holds that the Catholic Church should lead the way. The Catholic Church must demonstrate and continue to demonstrate care and concern for all people. That is the message of Pope Francis, the Pope of Mercy, and it is one I agree with wholeheartedly. It is interesting that I entered the Church and started the OpenCatholic blog before Francis became Pope. Perhaps there was something in the wind (or in the Spirit) at the time. Pope Francis, the head of the Catholic Church, offers an inclusive, non-judgmental approach to the world, its people and its cultures. By the grace of God I hope I do the same here in these pages and in my life. It was always my intention to do so at least. Over the past couple years I have focused on the faith itself in order to better understand it, and that has been rewarding. But now, given the turn of the world and our nation, the intent of OpenCatholic has been made practically relevant. There is no conceivable defense for isolationism or protectionism in our faith. We must  go forth and announce in word and deed the Gospel of the Lord to a chaotic, confusing, heart-rending, yet joyous, jubilant, wonderful world where the only promise is our eternal salvation. With that promise come obligations.

And those are obligations I take quite seriously.