Friday, March 31, 2017

"By Friday life has killed me"

Writing the other day in Great Britain's Catholic Herald newspaper, John Waters, as is his forte, focuses on what matters at a time when the focus by many in the Church is on what doesn't, what I call majoring in the minors. While hew writes specifically about Ireland, much of what he writes is transferable to other "advanced" Western countries, especially the U.S. and, I imagine, the Catholic Church in England, given how foundational the Irish were to the establishment of the Roman Catholic Church in both of these countries.

I think this, for example, finds some resonance in the U.S.:
The brand of Christianity purveyed by the Irish Church since the famines of the 1840s was rich in piety but poor in reason, which meant that in the end people regarded their priests more as a moral police force than the custodians of mystery in the world. Christ, at once the Chief of Police and yet manifestly incompatible with this moralism, became externalised and suffused in an aura of sentimentality
This not-so-old-school, but rather new and untenable form of Catholicism, mistaken by many as "that old-time religion," held sway among the largely Irish Catholics of England too. Morrissey wrote about how deeply about how distressfully off-putting this ultimately toxic form of religion, in the worst sense of the word, was for him in his Autobiography. His song "I Have Forgiven Jesus" is sort of about this. It's infantile, which is why it is easily outgrown and rejected.

I think permanent deacons, who have been described as clerics who largely live lay lives, can help overcome this. In fact, it would be ridiculous to argue that narrowing the breach between the Church and society in Western countries was one of the major reasons for restoring the renewed diaconate. I can't help but think Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin had this in mind when he established the diaconate in his diocese, and because he was the first bishop to so do, established it in Ireland. The Irish bishops sought and obtained permission from the Holy See to establish the diaconate as a permanent order on Emerald Isle in 2001, but Archbishop Martin ordained the first 8 deacons only in 2012.

The other day there was an article making the rounds on social media that posed the rhetorical question about whether reading Pater Tom (Merton) was dangerous for one's faith. The pre-determined conclusion was "Yes" and that reading him should either be avoided or done with great caution. One commentator even opined that Merton died when he did because God took him out- the Puritan god goes Catholic hunting? I would agree that reading Merton is dangerous, but not in the way the author of this puerile piece supposed. In my view, reading Merton poses just the kind of danger to which faith needs to be exposed.

In any case, perhaps with boring predictability, our Friday traditio is Morrissey singing "I Have Forgiven Jesus" from his brilliant 2005 "Who Put the 'M' in Manchester" concert. I have used this song before. Please forgive my repetition, which I don't see as being mindless.

Why did you give me
So much desire?
When there is nowhere I can go
To offload this desire

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