Thursday, February 12, 2009

Slow day at work

In the restaurant office, after hours. Somehow or other the conversation's veered back to religion, at least as seen through the eyes of the modern American college student. Being the only known Catholic in existence in the restaurant, I'm a natural target for queries both serious and un-.

Server #1:
"What would you say if I told you I was Episcopalian?"
Me: "I'd be're part of a church that's falling apart."

There follows a brief interlude as I explain that by 'church', I meant the Episcopal Church. Which, no, is not falling apart because it doesn't recognize "Pope Joan" - contra Server #1's favorite claim - but rather because it is only too likely to do so. That's set aside as a story for another time, and we resume the original topic...but these are state university students, remember.

Server #2: "Yeah, and the Catholic Church has been falling apart for 2,000 years."
Me: [laughs] "That should be our motto! The Catholic Church - falling apart for 2,000 years and counting!"

The scary thing is, it's true - as so clearly evidenced, yet again, this past week. Always falling apart, never quite fallen apart. Never mind asking if God can create a rock so heavy He cannot lift it...the real question is whether He can create a bottle of Advil so large He can never empty it. He surely needs it for the headache we give Him.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

In Domino confido

Back in 1996, the accusations against Fr. Maciel were my first hint that there was something very rotten at work in the Church. I denied them then; how dare anyone suggest such a thing of a priest? Of that good and holy priest, no less, when he'd done so much for the Church? He was nothing like good or holy, of course. And much of the work he did for the Church now appears to have been incidental to setting up a comfortable environment for his own pastimes. Looking at him, you see the entire Scandal in minature - the institutionalized enabling, the head-in-sand denials, the deception of innocent people. The twisted and destroyed trust. American Papist is doing an excellent job of monitoring the fallout, and has links to letters written by American LC priests that are very well worth the read. (There has yet to be any substantive response by the actual leadership of the Legion.)

Maybe there's some good in this. Maybe the implicit trust in priests that once characterized Catholic culture, that I can still see present in my father, needed to be shattered. Maybe we needed to stop looking to priests to be everything we aren't, so that we would start trying to be it ourselves. I don't know. I don't have any words of my own to throw at this - only the knowledge that we need to pray. We need to help the victims (metaphorical and grimly literal) instead of gawking at the train wreck. We need to look again to Christ and not to men.

Psalm 11
1 In the Lord I have taken my refuge.
How can you say to my soul:
"Fly like a bird to its mountain.

2 See the wicked bracing their bow;
they are fixing their arrows on the string
to shoot upright men in the dark.
3 Foundations once destroyed, what can the just do?"

4 The Lord is in his holy temple,
the Lord, whose throne is in heaven.
His eyes look down on the world;
his gaze tests mortal men.

5 The Lord tests the just and the wicked;
the lover of violence he hates.
6 He sends fire and brimstone on the wicked;
he sends a scorching wind as their lot.

7 The Lord is just and loves justice;
the upright shall see his face.