What’s going on in the American church? Oh . . . the usual. Fiducia Supplicans, etc., and all the ensuing confusion and panic, real, self-induced, and otherwise. Before that, if you’ll recall, the Pope swatted down Cardinal Burke, and he kicked out Bishop Strickland; but meanwhile the Vatican still continues to publish and feature the work of Marco Rupnik.
St Michael’s Media/Church Militant is still melting down in spectacular fashion, and some bishops — I can’t even remember who, but it was a fuss at the time — are refusing Communion to some Catholic politicians, but not others. And people are upset. They are upset!
I am reading about some of it and skipping over a lot.
I’ve written many times about Medieval Peasanting my way through the news:
“Medieval Peasanting” means reminding myself that there once existed Catholics who couldn’t read or write and who never strayed more than 10 miles from the place where they were born.
They had some vague notion that the Holy Father lived in a far-off place called Rome and they ought to pray for him every day. They said their prayers and did their best to obey the commandments, and when they failed, they repented. That is how they lived their faith. When they had the chance, they received Jesus in the Eucharist with glad hearts and gratitude and fear of the Lord. And so should I.
This mental image is, I realize, an idealization of medieval life. Medieval people, peasants and everyone else, were not automatically holy simpletons just because they didn’t have the internet. They were just as prone to vanity and pettiness and selfishness and idiotic mind games as I am.Where I have the distractions of trolls and Twitter ratios and doomscrolling, they had the distractions of toothaches and fleas and runaway infections.Just because they were disenfranchised, that doesn’t mean they were magically able to fix their eyes on the Lord with unwavering attention.
But they were supposed to try. And so am I. I am supposed to be pursuing eucharistic coherence in my own life, and if the political and ecclesiastical discourse on eucharistic coherence is distracting me from that, I should chop it off. This is a real choice, every day.
Every time I suggest something of this kind (which I do periodically, because I very much need the reminder myself), some readers respond with incredulity.
Jesus does not want us to stick our heads in the sand! It is an abdication of our God-given brains and free will to play dumb and act like we don’t see what’s going on right in front of us! It’s not enough to just pray! We have to act!
All very true. I’m not telling anyone to check out, or pretend everything’s fine in the church or in the world, or to refuse to act when action is necessary. I’m not even telling you (much to my editor’s relief) not to pay attention to headlines!
Instead, I’m trying to remember what’s really going on when I do let my mind and attention and heart be constantly engaged by these matters. It may not be what it seems.
When I was growing up, my mother was fascinated with theology. She devoured just about any theological text she could find, and she gave everyone a chance. She read not only Christian works (everything from the writings of the Church Fathers to The Shack), but the Book of Mormon and the Quran. She was just plain interested in reading about God, and she never stopped being interested.
But it didn’t make her holy. She said so all the time…Read the rest of my latest for The Catholic Weekly.
Photo by Alexander Dummer