Today is Mother's Day. It's a day we celebrate the relationship we have with our mothers. Good, bad or indifferent, that maternal relationship is pretty critical in setting the course for the adult child and by extension that adults ability to create their own family and navigate in the world.
Catholics call the Church their spiritual mother, but right now there is a huge disconnect between the Institutional Church's concept of mothering and that of the more recent generations real life experience of mothering. Or to put it differently, I am nothing like Pope Benedict's mother. I can't be because the world I was born into is vastly different from the Bavarian world of the 1880's.
I am becoming more and more convinced that the old guard in the Vatican is patently incapable of acknowledging this very simple fact. They continue to defend a concept of mother which is totally out of step with Western current reality.
Jamie Manson hits on some of this in her latest article for the National Catholic Reporter. I like Jamie's work a great deal, and think she is a voice that needs to be heard. Her articles generally nudge my thinking and make me question some of my assumptions. The following is an excerpt from that article.
In his April 30 online column, “American Catholic Demographics and the Future of Ministry,” John Allen projects that the next generation of clergy and lay leadership in the Catholic church will emerge from an “inner core of practicing and faithful young Catholics.” Allen writes, “these younger Catholics are attracted to traditional spiritual practices such as Eucharistic adoration and Marian piety; they have a generally positive attitude towards authority, especially the papacy; and they’re less inclined to be critical of church teaching.” Their devotion to the Church, says Allen, is a response to their coming of age in a “secular, rootless world.” (They might be traditional practices for my generation, but the reality is they are novel practices for younger generations.)
I believe Allen’s assessment is on target. My concern is that this inner core of faithful young people will be a very small, insular group. The Catholic church in the West will begin to shrink into a sect of strictly observant believers.
That’s all well and good for them. But what happens to the other baptized Catholics whose faith isn’t nourished by centuries-old devotions, the Latin Mass, and absolute subservience to an all male, celibate hierarchy and clergy? (That seems to me to be their whole 'orientation'. First Catholicism has be be good for them personally, and secondarily only those who share the 'same orientation' are welcome. This is why the gay issue is so symbolically critical in underlining this emphasis on Catholic identity--which like official Catholic sexual morality is all about spiritual/ritual ACTS and not relationship.)
Where will they find their spiritual home? Where will they find community in a time when face-to-face socialization is quickly disappearing? Where will they find guidance that will help them make meaning during times of sorrow and loss? Where will their values and ethics be challenged and molded so that they can find resources to help them make their marriages work and raise their children? Will they, too, like the other 30 million baptized Catholics in this country who do not attend church, be relegated to the pop spirituality, wellness seminars, life coaching, and new age therapeutics touted on "Oprah"?
Unlike the generations of progressive Catholics who came of age in the 1950s and 1960s, young Catholics are not willing to fight for the soul of the church. The church has lost its influence over the consciences of new generations. Our imaginations were not formed by its rituals and our morality was not created by its figures of authority. We were not raised by a church that held absolute authority over the state of our souls -- both in this life and the next. (Or to put it in different terms, Mother Church has lost any meaningful relationship with her children.)
As a result, many of the symbols of the Catholic church, most especially the priesthood, the parish, and the Mass, have lost their power for many young Catholics. Though these symbols are dying out, the need for the meaning, ethical guidance, and spiritual development embodied in the symbols is stronger than ever. (Gen X'rs demand a different kind of spiritual relationship. One which respects their independence and their individual path. That means they are seeking a relationship which emphasises mentoring, not parenting.)
One of my closest friends has been teaching a course in the theology of marriage for more than twenty years at a Jesuit university. From his conversations with students, it is very clear that the church no longer has influence over the consciences and spiritual lives of most of his students. However, the theology of marriage course continues to be among the most popular and sought out in the university. The reason is obvious. The students have few resources to turn to that will help them navigate through the treacherous land of intimate relationships and the increasingly murky world of life commitment.
If these young adults have children, perhaps they will see a need for church community, for a sense of meaning, for a system of values and beliefs with which to raise their children. But there is a good chance that they will not think to seek this from the Church, which has lost much of its moral authority with young Catholics.
Call me crazy, but I don’t think this is all bad. By being free of the trappings of the institutionalized church, younger generations have a real and unprecedented potential to realize the kind of church that Jesus’ earliest disciples brought to life.
New generations have an extraordinary commitment to social service and to creating a just society, whether through the field of social work, non-profit development, green jobs, or documentary filmmaking. In many ways, they are already doing the work of the church. But what is lacking is a real sense of how to build and sustain community, which is essential to their spiritual health and support. (Again this is a matter of establishing a meaningful relationship.)
This, I believe, is where older progressive Catholics can be an extraordinary resource. These reformers spend a lot of time and energy worrying, analyzing, writing about, and arguing with the institutional church. I believe they would do well to take some of the energy behind their righteous anger, and engage those who are struggling to find meaning and spiritual development in a rootless world. This might be a better -- and certainly more life-giving -- use of their time than simply fighting a self-destructive institution. (I think it's very important to do both. The witness of defending what you care about demonstrates there really is something important to care about.)
Together we need to explore the ways in which we are already church, and to enhance the opportunities to become more fully church. We need to discover what sacred experiences we are hungering for and what brings us the more abundant life that Jesus taught us to seek. The more the institutional church starves us, the greater the call should be for us to feed one another by breaking bread together -- literally and symbolically.
Younger generations need this support to help them find roots. Older generations need strength and new life from the roots that they planted decades ago. If we begin to think creatively outside of the institutional church and imagine smaller, more intimate ways of sharing community, we all might begin to realize the church as it was in its beginnings. (Smaller more intimate settings foster relationship and the communication meaningful relationship requires.)
I wish a very happy Mother's day for all mothers who may be reading this blog and for all the mothers of children who may be reading this blog. Happy Mother's Day one and all.
Happy Mother's Day to you Colleen and everyone.ReplyDelete
This blog today certainly is inspiring. I've highlighted just a few things that popped out from the page that I thought I might comment on to bring about discussion. My comments are in bold.
"(Gen X'rs demand a different kind of spiritual relationship. One which respects their independence and their individual path. That means they are seeking a relationship which emphasises mentoring, not parenting.)"
I believe this is true for myself and I'm not a Gen X'r. Maybe I am spiritually on the same page or path, or that we have connected at the same crossroads at this juncture in time and we are conscious of what we need, what we see.
"Allen writes, “these younger Catholics are attracted to traditional spiritual practices (I must mention that these practices are being foisted upon them too as the only way and only tools to use for the rest of their lives, which can not by themselves deepen the roots and encourage spiritual growth.) such as Eucharistic adoration and Marian piety; they have a generally positive attitude towards authority, especially the papacy; and they’re less inclined to be critical of church teaching.” (My initial response to this, it sounds so much like my parent's generation, and as I have witnessed that generation and their spirituality, the Church did little more than promote these rituals as a vehicle to their spiritual growth and maturity when my parents were young adults - pre-VII. If there was spiritual maturity it was by the power of the Holy Spirit and love that was generated not by the Church, but by individuals free will and discernment, of which VII aided them unawares).
"Their devotion to the Church, says Allen, is a response to their coming of age in a “secular, rootless world.” (They might be traditional practices for my generation, but the reality is they are novel practices for younger generations.)" It is also novel practices now in our generation, IMHO.
I might add that the Rosary can be wonderful for meditation and beginning to learn how to meditate, bring one to divine presence. How many use it as an opportunity for meditation or say it without really connecting to what is being said, might take another thread. One can outgrow such a practice or ritual though, and that shouldn't be defined by the Church as being anti-Catholic or used as a way to totally define Catholic identity.ReplyDelete
Word verification is wingnnut
The current Catholic identity issue seems to have a glass ceiling on it, especially from wingnuts.ReplyDelete
In re the 'novel practices'.....if they are indeed 'novel' to those of ANY generation, this is bad. Because it indicates the utter failure of the guys with the pointy hats in Rome (and in your local chancery) to properly evangelize.ReplyDelete
I once had a priest - who is one of the 'honored ones' of the local chancery - tell me, in response to my simple question as to why he or the other priests do not lead the ppl in public recitation of the Rosary:
"It would not be liturgically proper".
My response to him would have been a stream of expletives, had I not said a mental prayer for him.
What this glib, brainless & spiritually dead Domestic Prelate does not believe in...is God. It is that simple. If he did, he would never speak such hogwash.
The Rosary, Via Crucis, & Eucharistic Adoration are the MOST important devotions one could make - the letter being utmost in primacy! Both in private & as a corporate devotion. ALL other 'devotions' pale before these, as these function to increase personal faith & the all-important personal relationship with God.
Anyone who tells you different- let him/her be anathema.
The Eucharist IS God Himself. The Via Crucis is meditation upon the Passion & Death of Jesus. The Rosary as a literal miraculous gift from Heaven.
Why do I say this of the Rosary? Because it has been given to us - to THE LAITY - to save us from the horrid failures of the clergy, who are supposed to gently guide souls to God, in love. As they were not doing this centuries ago.....the Rosary was given to us as a literal telephone to Heaven.
If you cannot get to a church to adore Christ in the Tabernacle (either due to time, or that the churches are all locked up constantly....) you can do this at home. You can make a Spiritual Communion. Look it up- there are different prayer formularies. Or you could make your own, modeled on the general principles.
Or you could go to www.savior.org for online Eucharistic devotion. As God & the Eucharist transcend Time & Space, this is VERY real & 100% legitimate. No matter what some fop in a roman collar might say!
You do not need the permission of the guys in the pointy hats to do this - or to say the Rosary, or the Via Crucis. God has given these to the laity, to circumvent the ^&%$#@*!!! who dare to call themselves..."priests".
...who DARE to stand between men/women...and the loving God.
Anon Y. Mouse
John Allen brings up this phrase "secular rootless world" and this pops out from the page as well.ReplyDelete
Is he demonizing all the secular world? Why does he say the secular world is rootless?
It seems a divisive term that is not really helpful at all and that can bear no fruit.
"If you cannot get to a church to adore Christ in the Tabernacle (either due to time, or that the churches are all locked up constantly....) you can do this at home. You can make a Spiritual Communion."ReplyDelete
I do this all the time at home. I need not go to any specific place, for God is everywhere.
"I do this all the time at home. I need not go to any specific place, for God is everywhere."
God is not bound by Time & Space. Neither is the Mass....which brings us to a related topic: 'attending mass' via television.
I have heard countless priests tell ppl 'Watching mass on tv is not the same as being present, and it does not count for your Sunday obligation'.
Anyone who can read at the 6th grade level knows very well that the Mass transcends Time & Space, in the confection of the Eucharist by Transubstantiation. This understanding goes back prior to Nicea! It was not 'invented'.
It is either true....or not true. There is no middle ground.
Of course, on a spiritual level, to be physically present at mass is best. For many reasons. But what if you cannot? Disability. Distance. Schedule/mass time availability.
...or if you have been effectively 'shut out of the church' as you are not part of one of the 'cults' which now run the church? Or if you have been rendered 'anathema' (unjustly) by them? Or are denied Communion (literally or in theory) due to marital status and/or sexuality which does not neatly dovetail with these 'cults'?
God shuts nobody out who loves & wants him. Thus - as you say - private spiritual communion is yours. Whenever you desire it. And you may participate in mass via TV, because God cannot be bound by man.
"...You wicked hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven against men- yet you yourselves are not going in; and those who are going in you will not allow to enter in..."
This is a most interesting string of comments. One of the first things I was taught by my particular mentors was to always remember that I was addressing a consciousness which was outside time and space and that one of the core aspects of any spiritual ritual or devotional practice should be to emphasise that understanding.ReplyDelete
That's why when a group of people all understand that they are now engaged in a practice which literally--on an actual level of reality--is outside time and space, the collective experience can truly feel other wordly.
Butterfly your verification word was too funny to me personally because I am truly a wingnut of a different sort. My beloved Redwings were ousted from the Stanley Cup playoffs last night.ReplyDelete
I am shut out of the Church because I am divorced and remarried and do not believe in the annulment process at all. I had a meeting with a priest and he gave me forms to fill out in response and said that the grounds I brought up for divorce were considered legitimate. When I went to a priest to help fill out the forms, which I had great difficulty, I was not treated with common Christian respect and was scolded for quoting scripture. I ripped up the forms in front of him and scolded him and left.ReplyDelete
The questions on the forms were quite taxing on me mentally at the time as I was severely overwhelmed at the time by many burdens and I quite honestly could not bear the burden, nor did I believe I should have had to bear such a burden, as I had found God, the true God, not the God of wrath of my youth & parent's generation. The questions on the annulment form are invasive of one's privacy, none of their business and they are voyeuristic type questions that have nothing to do with God or my relationship with God or what my relationship with God was prior to the divorce and after the divorce or currently. In other words, it has nothing to do with God or spirituality or Jesus Christ or anything Holy and nothing to do with me and the genuine healing I needed at the time, of which there was none from the Church. The annulment process drove me away rather than drew me nearer to the Church. It totally alienated me as a human being. It all seems so secular a process and questionnaire.
Coleen, I love that the Pope is listening to Mozart. To me, the music of Mozart can take one outside time and space as well, to a place that is divinely inspired and inspiring. However, there are contemporary composers that he might listen to as well one day that might help inspire him.ReplyDelete
Mozart's music fulfilled a need in the heart and soul of people during his time and even still now. His music is a grazing field filled with love and laughter for the health of one's consciousness and soul.
What will happen when the current "crop" of obedience-preferring young people OUTGROW that? When they reach middle age and begin to think for themselves? When they realize they foreclosed on an identity as teenagers rather than "experimenting" at a stage which Erikson classified as the "search for identity".ReplyDelete
I simply wonder about a group of young people seeking "certainty" who will, as life goes on, likely come to see that behaving in "certain" ways will not necessarily give answers to all problems or result in happy lives.
And when a church bases itself on one group and forgets about the others, how long before it discards that one group as well?
TheraP asks: "What will happen when the current "crop" of obedience-preferring young people OUTGROW that?"ReplyDelete
I witnessed what happened to my parents. I could write a book about it. There were many stages they went through and they became cafeteria Catholics of the conservative SSPX sort in the late 1960's, however, they transcended to a progressive view, not politically, but spiritually. They knew I was divorced and remarried, yet they still loved me and continued to visit me in my home. This is an improvement in my family as there is a relative on the west coast whose father would never speak to her again after she divorced.
and.... What happens, I believe, is people really get sick of fighting and labeling others and they finally find some peace end the warring.ReplyDelete
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"Catholics call the Church their spiritual mother..."ReplyDelete
## Some mother !
Sorry, but when I see the way that some Catholics complain at all the bad prss the Church is getting, and say how they are being persecuted, I feel sick, & angry.
Criticising the CC for wrecking thousands of lives is not persecution.
Before I start: the word verification is slflis which I read as "selfless" . Is that what parenthood, or more specifically, motherhood teaches us to be?ReplyDelete
My two grandmothers were born in the 1890's. In Canada they were not "persons" in the eyes of the law for half their lives. British Common Law said:
" "Women are persons in matters of pains and penalties, but are not persons in matters of rights and privileges."
Until 1929 women could not vote, hold office, enter into contracts, etc. in Canada. In the USA although the Equal Rights Amendment was first proposed in 1923 it has not yet received the required ratification from 38 states.
I don't know about Bavaria but you remind me that almost all these Cardinals grew up in the time and places where their mothers were not legally considered to be "Persons". So these old decision makers probably consider it natural that women are inferior to men. They probably experienced the type of upbringing where their sisters were not worth as much as them and so the girls were not encouraged to attend school etc.
That's who we're dealing with. That's their mind set. That's their frame of reference. They want to turn the clock back. It isn't going to happen.
There are more women than men enrolled in colleges and universities today. This is the single biggest untapped pool of human capital in the world. The RCC refuses to acknowledge it.
Don't forget your mother, sister, and daughter are persons.
Happy Mother's Day!
"I once had a priest - who is one of the 'honored ones' of the local chancery - tell me, in response to my simple question as to why he or the other priests do not lead the ppl in public recitation of the Rosary:ReplyDelete
"It would not be liturgically proper".
My response to him would have been a stream of expletives, had I not said a mental prayer for him."
## He's right. It's a useful devotion, but it has no place in the Liturgy.
The reason for this is that the Liturgy is of its very nature the worship rendered by the entire People of God. The rosary, OTOH,is a private devotion: it's individual, not a corporate act.
Actually the rosary, with its 150 decades in the initial 3 types of mysteries, was something given the lay brothers to recite (in monasteries) as the Choir brothers (& priests) sang the 150 psalms. So it began as a substitute for the more lengthy, complicated Liturgy of the Hours.ReplyDelete
Sorry, not 150 decades! But the 3 rosaries of 5 decades each equals the total of 150 psalms...ReplyDelete
So much for my fried brain late today!
My two grandmother's were also born in the 1890's. When my grandmother died, her son said to me to "be like your grandmother."ReplyDelete
I hardly knew who my grandmother really was until long after she was gone, as I didn't spend a lot of time with her. But, I can not be just like my grandmother or my mother. I live in a different time with its new problems to contend with. I can only try to find out where my gifts are, the identity that God wants me to be now. That idea of women developing their own identity with God has been repressed for many women by cultural sexist type-casting and laws, such as you mention P2P.
The moms today have their hands full and the Church of all places should not be laying more burdens on women by enforcing their 1890's conscience on them. They should find the time to start honoring and respecting women and treat them with dignity. They should start by setting a good example.
You did not completely understand.
The conversation with that priest referenced the public recitation of the rosary. This had nothing to do with a mass; it was completely outside of the context of any mass.
The priest's incredibly stupid & insensitive remark is typical of most priests: they cannot lead as they do not lead. You cannot give spiritual example if you have no genuine spirituality to impart.
The function of a priest is to help lead souls to God. Teaching them spiritual practices is part of this. Teaching by their personal example is paramount! The best way to encourage the laity to a devotion, such as the Rosary, is for them to teach it to ppl....by saying it. Set an example.
The Rosary is just as important as a personal & private devotion, as when done corporately. Ditto for the Via Crucis.
The overtly dismissive attitude of this priest...is an explanation of WHY the Vatican is a spiritually toothless tiger:
1) They do not believe in God; they merely find him 'useful'.
2) As #1 is true, it comes as no surprise that they neither believe in the Rosary,nor of the words of the Mother of Jesus. Except as money-making tourist trap enterprises.
Rather then correctly referring to Mary as the Mother of the Church, they blasphemously posit themselves - the Vatican organization - as...."Mother".
Anon Y. Mouse
"Rather then correctly referring to Mary as the Mother of the Church, they blasphemously posit themselves - the Vatican organization - as...."Mother"ReplyDelete
That makes a lot of sense Mouse, that Mary is the Mother of the Church. She is the example of a Mom who Loved God and God Loved Her and She Obeyed God and Heard and Saw the Archangel and fulfilled the prophesies by bearing Jesus and bringing Him into the World. That sure sounds like what we are supposed to do, which is to be more like Mary, Our Mother of the Church, to bring Jesus into the World.
Oddly, when the Vatican refers to itself 'Holy Mother Church', and other such maternal self descriptive verbiage, they create an interesting construct.
If Mary is the 'mother of the church' (which she is, correctly)...and the Church organization dubs itself as 'Holy Mother Church'...
...thus Mary becomes the Grandmother of the Church?
Or the hierarchy becomes the cruel step mother.ReplyDelete