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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

pre-WJT thoughts

I wrote this before Cologne, and still am not sure if it's worth posting, but hey, what's a blog for if not to allow the world access to one's addled, half-formed, ill-expressed thoughts?

In Sainsbury's the other day, I noted the headlines on the cover of one of the cheaper glossies:




This seems to summarise some chief cultural preoccupations in Britain today... I was about to say, 'how depressing', but then remembered that a rather liberal friend was telling me off for being too negative, and indeed berating the Church for being too negative. On the one hand, of course, the Church is certainly not too negative. We must not say 'Peace, peace' where there is no peace - there are things worth being negative about. Like money-changers in the Temple... Our perspective is also skewed by our media, which prefers the negative - 'Vatican cracks down on contraception' is a better headline than 'Contraception contradicts the inscribed meaning of the nuptial act, Pontiff notes.' At the same time, however, it is easy for individuals like me (despite only having been Catholic for five minutes, and being surprised by the proverbial joy) to be too negative. (Frivolous aside: especially when the conversation is taking place in a cafe which has stopped its student discount 'for the Festival'! Rargh!) Similarly, when recently in the pub with friendly neighbourhood Dominican, we were pondering how to take a more useful approach to the current local liturgical situation than just moaning about problems. And Cacciaguida made a good observation recently: 'Liturgical activism is not a form of interior life; in fact it tends to drive out the real thing by undermining faith and promoting sloth, which, classically defined, is sadness about the things of God. Sloth is highly compatible with activism, btw.'

All of which reminds me of something a Presbyterian minister said in a children's address, circa 1995: 'Hint for you, children. When I ask a question, the answer will almost always be 'God,' 'Jesus,' or 'Yes'.' Obviously what the Church is actually doing is showing Her Lord to the world. Obviously what most of us (me, anyhow) are failing to do is to live this out very effectively in our own spheres. It is easier to complain about things than to be a saint, which, as Peter Kreeft points out in a wee book I was just reading, is the only way forward. In other words, say Yes to God, and display Jesus, the answer to all the world's questions. Interior conversion turns out to be the starting point. Again.

The sanctuary lamp is, I suppose, the Church being positive. It says, 'He's still here, folks. He still loves you. He Who created you out of love and deigned to become man, deigns to speak in the words of His priests and offer Himself in His priests' hands.' This is not going to make the BBC front page any time soon, I dare say. On the other hand, if we acted as if we really believed it, it might. How remarkably I manage to disregard the almost terrifying whole-heartedness of Jesus's self-giving in every Mass; how listlessly and feebly many (if not most) of us respond to His love!

Sorry, this isn't exactly profound or original.