Originally posted by lucifershammer
...I have [b]not
been saying that love of God and love of one's neighbour can exist independent of each other....However, what I am saying, is that the two are not identical
...One does not worship God in order to
serve one's neighbour. One enters into a relationship in God simply because He is who He is and we are who we are. ...You're right - if it does not inspire us to help our fellow humans then it hasn't worked. However, that is not its purpose
It may be that we disagree here, but while they are not identical
they are inseparable.
If the purpose of liturgy, as you said, is to enter into and enhance one's relationship with God
(a fair description), then by necessity
the person worshiping will be a person who
provides the sorts of outward works described by Saint Matthew (oft cited by me) in the
25th chapter. A person who sees the 'God-ness' in a person in need is a person who has a
relationship with God. Liturgy that fails to recognize this, inspire this, elucidate this, or
promote it fails; it is a necessary quality. I am inclined to believe that it is its primary
purpose (certainly not its sole purpose), for if liturgy is supposed to stimulate, foster and
maintain a relationship with God, then it will do the same for relationships with His creation,
most notably with other human beings.
Liturgy is all about God's people and God spending time together in a special and privileged setting, apart from the activities of the other 167 or so hours. It ought to have the effect of inspiring the actions of those other hours, but that's not what it is all about. As I said in my previous post, it's a question of emphasis -- not separation as you seem to think.
I feel that it goes beyond 'ought.' If it does not
then the liturgy has failed for the
individual in question. This may not be the fault of the liturgy -- although, I find that it often
is because of priests' inattentiveness to liturgical norms, guidelines, and a general lack of
creativity -- but a fault of a person's unwillingness or inability to let the liturgy speak to them.
And, bringing this back to the topic at hand, when a priest, especially one who has risen in
the ranks of the hierarchy, demonstrates that he himself has not been moved by the liturgy
but, instead, by a power-hungry self-preservation, it undermines the whole of the Church
Poland's older clergy are undergoing further investigation and it will come as no surprise to
me to find out that many have engaged in the same sorts of illicit behaviors as the former
archbishop. These are people who have preached Sunday after Sunday about charity and
honesty and compassion who themselves are guilty of profound offenses to these same
virtues. When Mother Church fails to condemn this in a decisive and unequivocal way, She
undermines her own claims to moral authority.
These people have profaned
majesty of the Church and the sacredness of the Sacrament of Ordination. They have spit upon
the Catechism and made a fool of all that which the Church stands for.
The Church speaks of motive as a critical element of determining the nature of sin. If I untie
a rope with a heavy weight on it and, unbeknownst to me someone walks underneath the weight
and it crushes him and dies, assuming I took every reasonable precaution to prevent such a thing,
I am not guilty of any sin. Similarly, if I give a desperate friend of mine $10 and insist that he
pay me back $20 in a week, I am not doing him any favors -- the benefit is largely mine. I have
not acted with compassion, but with greed.
A priest may
have been preaching a powerful and profound message of Christ's love, but
he himself did not believe it
. He was not driven by a belief in that message -- his motive
was not spreading God's Word and Sacrament -- but by an interest in protecting himself and
elevating his own status. I'm sure he didn't start out that way, but he most certainly became
that way. He forgot that the greatest in the kingdom of heaven is the one who is servant to
The lure of money or power or fear of his corporeal life led to his foregoing of his own
spiritual values. Yes, the outside of the cup was clean, very clean indeed, but the inside of the
cup was rancid.
When the Church fails to respond with disdain upon these actions but responds with a casual
indifference and shrug (and perhaps a nod and wink!), She tells the faithful a mixed message.
Her nearly ambivalent response to the sex scandal in the US continues to infuriate me; the
USCCB's hostility to Voice of the Faithful (comprising liberal and conservative Roman Catholics
alike, for they all agree that the sex abuse scandal coverup was a dereliction of Churchly duty)
is disgusting. Her support of this Polish bishop, Her slap on the wrist to Cardinal Law, Her
'gee whiz' attitude to what is likely millions of dollars stolen because even the most trivial
safeguards weren't in place: These things make a mockery of all the Church claims to stand on.
And when Her faithful shrug and turn the other way...well, there is no wonder that fewer and
fewer people are attending Mass every weekend, that both attendance and collections are down,
that ordinations are at a crisis level, that the convents and monasteries are emptying. Fewer
and fewer people have confidence that the Church leadership comprises people with clean
insides to their cups. And, I'm sad to say, that I have to agree with those people.
Yes, one should and does see Christ in one's neighbour. But one also receives Christ in a unique and privileged way in the Eucharist. The two are not equivalent. They are not interchangeable.
A person who receives the Eucharist and does not attend to his/her brother's/sister's need has
not entered into a relationship with God.
In Christ's own life, how many times has He left behind teaching and healing the masses to go to a solitary location to pray? ... With the Catholic and Orthodox Churches in particular, there is a long-standing tradition of recognising contemplative lives of prayer and meditation as valid Christian vocations. ... Were St. Therese of Lisieux and St. John of the Cross serving no purpose with their lives?
This is an auxiliary issue, but I will address it.
I categorically reject the cloistered/hermetic lifestyle. Especially
nowadays, when there
is more than anecdotal knowledge that many of these lives were lived in near servitude, abused
by flawed priests, coerced by fear and threats of damnation, I find that the emphasis on this
borders on perverse.
That is not to say that I believe that prayer doesn't matter. I take Saint Paul's admonition to
very seriously. I strive (and fail) to be contemplative about everything
that I do -- my work, my relationships with wife and son and friends, my hobbies, even my posts
at RHP. One can have a prayerful conversation. One can have a prayerful meal. One can
help another person prayerfully. (I personally do not distinguish between 'prayerful' and 'mindful.'
I strive for mindful/prayerful improvement in all that I do. But, I fervently believe that if this
prayerfulness is not realized in its impacts upon those people I know and in attending to the needs
that they have, it has no purpose. Yes, Jesus went out into the desert, but He came back