Thursday, 3 April 2014
Convert! Become a Radical Catholic!
This is not a joke. I am inviting catholics to become radicals all over again. For a long time we had proscriptions against divorce, contraception, homosexual acts etc. We were told to use our head and all but forget about the heart, though the heart is the level where each of us lives (we do what brings us emotional joy and we avoid what causes us emotional pain). In worship we had a language that was ancient and nothing to do with modern life, and our priests celebrated with their back to our faces and as such, did not engage with the people. We said we had a strong Church because 80% of Catholics came to Mass and were obedient to the laws of life set out for us, but this was from a fear of hell. The spirit, however, had something in store for us in the 1960’s: a radicalisation of the Faith. The Church was to come alive in the modern age.
We thus began to reconsider the use of contraception and develop our understanding of sexuality and marriage, ultimately seeking ways of helping people -all people- to experience their dignity by finding ways of accommodating their private, consenting relationships. This new focus on the person was demonstrated by putting Mass into our own language; by having the priest face us and actually engage with us. We have now had this radicalisation of the Faith for fifty years and its fruits are beginning to show. Yes, we have a smaller Church, but those who come are there not from fear of hell but because they want to be there and keep the radicalism alive.
The fruits we gained cannot be denied, and they are exactly what the spirit wanted: catholics who question the Faith and the Gospel. Many have been made comfortable enough to walk away from Mass without seeing it as walking away from God and spirituality, having discovered a God of mercy who “loves us anyway”. No more of the 80% practice rate from fear; we now have a 20% practice rate where those who have dared to be radical have been able to stay and see through the changes called for by the spirit. It is precisely these catholics of the radical 1960’s and beyond that I call to become radical again.
I invite them to challenge the ideologies of today; to return to objective truth known to reason and leave behind the subjective, rationalist ideologies of the heart that bind men and women to the passions of their “inner self” rather than binding them to the Church, the Gospel and He Who is Truth. For the spirit of the 1960’s which took hold of our intellect and will was not the Holy Spirit but the spirit we call Satan; he who who has us follow the wayward passions of the heart -the Holy Spirit frees us from bondage to our passions and binds us by faith and reason to the Church, thereby guiding us to heaven along the narrow road that few find (Matt.7:13,14). The radical catholics of the 1960’s now need the radicalism of an orthodox Catholic Faith, for while the 80% who practised in yester-year may indeed have practiced from fear and blind obedience, they were on the road to heaven; and it is better to reach heaven through holy fear and obedience than fall into hell from the self-orientation of subjectivism and relativism.
So come on, ye oldies of yester-year, get radical: challenge the world to give up its anti-life mentality and challenge it to return to the natural law. Challenge also yourself and your pastors to give up the fruits of the old radicalism: increasing lapsation, closed convents, closed monasteries and seminaries; reduced numbers of marriages and baptisms; challenge yourself and your pastors to seek a way of worship that puts God, not man, back at the centre; a way of worship in which we all face God rather than one another; worship in which we use a sacred language to help us experience the transcendence of heaven, instead of using a language of the work-a-day world which ties our worship to a specific time and place and as such, fails to help us experience the above and beyond. Are you radical enough to faithfully follow the Gospel as handed down to us, or are you too tied down by your passions to the world and its subjectivism and relativism?