what if the people of God were silent?

Liturgical rules and rubrics continue to make head-lines in the Catholic news. The Phoenix diocese issued a statement Sept. 21 placing new restrictions on the reception of Holy Communion under both species. It claims that it is in keeping with new standards and will promote unity in the celebration of the Eucharist around the world.

Our diocesan materials on the implementation of the revised Roman Missal stress the importance of showing unity in our prayers and liturgical gestures. An acknowledgement is made that the changes might be difficult at first, but we should put our personal misgivings aside for the greater unity of the Church.

It all seems so petty, but the underlying message cannot be ignored. There is something troubling about this constant call to `unity` – with no questions asked, and no dialogue allowed. It`s the George W. Bush logic; if you`re not with us, you`re against us. In church terms, if you don`t give your whole-hearted consent to each and every teaching, writing, and declaration coming from our leaders, than you are weakening the unity of the Church. This is the classic either or false dilemma. There is no room for `cafeteria Catholics`, picking and choosing the teachings we want to follow. A good Catholic eats all that is put in front of her, without question. If you`re not with us, you`re against us.

This kind of black and white thinking does not allow for a dialogue to take place in that grey area of the in-between; a hallowed space where truth is often found.  And true unity is never achieved through blind or submissive obedience.

The people of God had no say in the latest revisions of the Roman Missal. We were not asked to share our thoughts on the present version. We were not asked if we wanted change, or what kind of change would inspire us. It was assumed that our faith and prayer life was lacking, and that it would be miraculously brought to life and uplifted through the use of words with `deeper theological meanings`.

We had no voice. As usual, our role during the process was to be silent. Our role now that the process is a fait accomplis, is again to be silent.

If we have no opportunity to speak out, perhaps we should embrace the silence that is already ours. Perhaps the best protest action is no action. What if, on the First Sunday of Advent, we responded to that first `The Lord be with you` with…..silence.

What if we just said…nothing!?

truth vs love???

One of the dangers of reading too much, is that you store brilliant little nuggets in your brain and then forget where you read them! This is especially true when I`m cyber-surfing. I zip from local to national to international news, checking out several sites for balance. Then it`s time to check out the latest catholic news pages and blogs. Oh, and who can resist those tantalizing head-lines on the Yahoo home-page. Yes, of course I want to see the shocking fashion disaster on the latest red carpet…who doesn`t?!

I read recently (I don`t know where!) that our theology is affected by the emphasis we place on either truth or love. Oh no, yet another dividing line to categorize Catholics. Truth and love are central to our faith. How can we think of placing them in competition?

But, as is often the case, we build up a dichotomy by placing an undue emphasis on one to the detriment of the other. Church history is full of examples. The early councils concerned themselves with the heady question of the humanity and divinity of Jesus. They finally concluded that it`s not either-or, but both-and. Hard to wrap your head around, but such is the reality of mystery.

The reflection around truth-centered or love-centered theology goes something like this. Those who focus on the truth are more concerned about rules and regulations. Faithfulness is measured by obedience to the teachings of the church in all matters.

Those who focus on love are less concerned about dogmas, doctrines and ritual and more concerned about social justice and living the gospel in the world.

We have to be wary of any generalizations or over-simplifications. But, there is some truth (!) in this observation. And, as with other unnecessary dichotomies, they occur when we take the pendulum and swing it too aggressively in one direction or the other. And when we hang around on the extreme edges too long, the judging often begins. Traditionalists accuse the progressives of apostasy or heresy. Progressives accuse traditionalists of having a lack of gospel charity.

There is beauty and harmony when truth and love are in balance. How well do we balance truth and love in our own lives? Do you know someone who exemplifies this balance? What does their faith look like?

raising obedient daughters

Once upon a time, there was a little girl called Nana. She was not the oldest. She was not the baby. She was not the only girl. She was `smack in the middle` of two sisters and two brothers. But she was determined to make her presence known.

Nana was an independent and inquisitive soul. Some said she was disobedient. Her Mama said she was tenacious. Her Papa chuckled at her strong will.

Nana did not suffer fools gladly. She was very smart and asked many questions -especially when something seemed unfair or illogical. Her teachers praised her academic successes. But they wished she wasn`t such a difficult child.

`You`ll go a long way, my Nana`, her Mama said. `But please learn to play the game`, her Papa said.

But Nana refused to play the game. Awards and scholarships were given to students with lower marks and fewer accomplishments. They knew how to play the game. They knew how to be obedient.

Nana began university studies. Her first year lab instructor bullied and verbally abused her in class. Nana went to the Dean. `We`ve had many complaints`, the Dean said, `but there`s nothing I can do`.  Nana knew what to do. She went to the Human Rights Board with her complaint. The instructor did not return the following year.

Nana had a summer job as a life-guard. Her boss lost her time-sheet and refused her over-time pay. Nana knew what to do. She went to the Labour Board and received full compensation. The boss did not return the following summer.

Nana and her two sisters are all going far in their studies and their careers. They play the game when necessary, but still do not suffer fools gladly. They will not be anyone`s door-mat. They are strong-willed and independent women.

And their Mama and Papa are proud.