Thursday, April 28, 2011

Quote du Jour (Faith Department)

I've been pondering this quote from an editorial in America magazine back in March. The commentary was about the public act of contrition at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin earlier this year:

In Catholic life symbols matter; they point to something greater than what can be grasped by the sense alone. Ashes are more than burnt matter; water is more than a liquid; a flame is more than fire. So as the church confronts the legacy of sexual abuse, symbolic gestures are needed. They can speak to the Catholic imagination as much as words do.

8 comments:

  1. Oh Meredith - I had not seen that. Words that will stay on my heart.

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  2. Symbols do matter but so much more is needed in this case...
    Andie

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  3. Andie: I couldn't agree more. Truly I get crazy(er) every time the Roman Catholic church spends any time or money going after theologians like Sr. Elizabeth Johnston or people of deep faith like Sr. Margaret Mary McBride instead of dealing with the pervasive, ongoing dark sickness among some of the MIB.

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  4. "In Catholic life symbols matter; they point to something greater than what can be grasped by the sense alone. Ashes are more than burnt matter; water is more than a liquid; a flame is more than fire."

    People have been thinking in terms of elements for thousands of years...Earth and air, fire and water, long before there were religions or theology... The liturgically and sacramentally based churches get this and the archetypes can be powerful (as long as people are not turned off/away from the church by things like abuse--or a generally clueless catechism that drains the spiritual aliveness out of practicing the religion... but that's another story!)  

    What the more "hyper" megachurches do in music and pomp and overkill tries to overcome the basic vacuum created when you remove the symbols and the archetypes and the connectedness of the worlds of spirit and flesh. I get that you "get" the incarnational spirituality and the great mystery of your chosen faith... God loved us so much that he gave us the gift of the incarnation. God came to be a person. God as a baby, crying for milk or comfort. God who needed toilet training. God who felt deeply, who had pain, who suffered, who died, who resurrected. But God who is intimately familiar with life on earth and with the human experience in his form of Jesus... If Jesus is so much more than the person who walked the earth and is God too, so can the ashes and water and flame renew a church that is so much more than an institution.

    Your post was very sobering as I think of the catholic church with a small c--I profess in the Apostle's Creed a belief in the holy catholic church, the church universal, and when the Roman branch of that church is hurting, we are all a part of the pain--and also a part of the healing that must occur.

    Love
    Sue

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  5. Absolutely! Or how about how they spend time and energy changing 'words' in the Sacramentary, oops - Roman Missal. But, I think that my favorite is the training and background searches required of all volunteers, especially catechists - open your eyes guys, they're not the problem! Basta!
    Andie

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  6. Meredith, I think this is why one finds so many Catholics (practicing, estranged, and former) in the arts. Or - from another perspective - why so many artists find their home in the liturgical churches. We learn to, and are called, to speak in symbol and metaphor.
    I do love reading your blog.
    Blessings, Laurel

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  7. Laurel: Yes! Keep meaning to write more on that topic, especially because I was trained early on (starting age 7) in the visual arts and also in music. If you haven't already read it, check out what sociologist Fr. Andrew Greeley says about all that in his book, The Catholic Imagination.

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  8. I agree with you and as soon as I get my nap which I need after getting up at 3:30 to watch this extravaganza I'm going to blog about it. Here's a hint - I'm collecting hat pictures.

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