Saturday, March 27, 2010

Does Our Faith Have an Expiration Date?

Over at In All Things, the blog of the Jesuit magazine America, Tom Beaudoin claims that Christian faith that is connected to a visible, institutional Church has an expiration date, and is already being replaced by new inchoate ways of 'being church':
"Different Catholicisms are already detaching themselves from these old structures, from below: Catholics redefining their mass attendance, their loving relationships, their relation to the magisterium, their sense of the roles of women, their relation to people of other faiths and religions, and more."
But the value of faith is always determined by the object, and not by the creativity or intensity of the believer. As Fr. Carron warned us two years ago:

"We want to get by on our own energy. As one of you said, “I would change the title from ‘Reality is what cries, “He exists!”’ to‘Reality is what cries,“Everything is Mystery.”’Before the fact of Eluana [or of a Church filled with filth], I acknowledge that the fact that she exists is a mystery, but I stop there; I don’t go further and say that I need Christ in order to look at this situation.” He can’t go further and say he needs Christ, that he needs a bond stronger than any evil. Instead, obedience is reasonable only if we see that in this bond, in this belonging to the Father lies “the success of life,” because leaving You, Christ, is the true sacrifice. In Jesus, what has won? This relationship with the Father, the bond, a lived belonging. Without this, friends, as soon as something comes along that exceeds our measure, we see that our faith has an expiration date."
"The Challenge of the Present." Spiritual Exercises of the University Students of Communion and Liberation. Rimini, Italy. December 2008.

It's tempting to ditch a Church made up of diverse humanity for the sake of a pure entity composed only of the spiritually pure. I know for myself that I'm not pure, I do not have the energy to "dream a new Church into being." If I presumed to do this, I would be confusing the Holy Spirit with my own ego and a deluded sense of myself not rooted in my daily experience. What plan of mortal man does not have an expiration date?

Instead, the true Holy Spirit can always be seen through His works. The people of Israel, the Jews, and especially the Jewish prophets. When the Holy Spirit declared unto Mary (March 25!), she knew that it was not her energy, not her redefinition, not her sense of her own role (the word role means script - as with dramatic actors who later wash off the makeup and go out for drinks), and not relationships established by herself to make life conform to her own ideas. The Holy Spirit's method is Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ's method is the Church - whose stability is not her own, but that of Christ living in her.

Christianity, the Church, has persisted for two thousand years not because of new catholicisms, new gospels, new christs, arising from the 'grass roots' or the efforts of theologians, but by adhering to Jesus Christ: yesterday, today, and forever – through His bruised and battered body, through His extraordinary physiology which we know as the Church.


Soul of Christ, sanctify me 
Body of Christ, save me 
Blood of Christ, inebriate me 
Water from Christ's side, wash me 
Passion of Christ, strengthen me 
O good Jesus, hear me 
Within Thy wounds hide me 
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee 
From the malicious enemy defend me 
In the hour of my death call me 
And bid me come unto Thee 
That I may praise Thee with Thy saints 
and with Thy angels 
Forever and ever 
Amen 
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