Monday, July 4, 2011

Independent Catholic Thoughts On Independence Day

Fireworks on the Detroit River were part of a two nation celebration in my family.

Happy Canada Day and Fourth of July to all my Canadian and American readers.  Growing up in the Detroit area with Windsor just across the bridge, both Canada Day and the Fourth of July seemed to be become one big long fun weekend. My family often spent the weekend boating on Lake St Claire on the Canadian side of the bridge so in some respects the Canadian celebration was more immediate than the American celebration.  That is until we all crowded in the boat and puttered down to the Detroit river to watch the fireworks display for the American part of the weekend.  That was pretty cool too---even the year Dad almost capsized the boat by mindlessly drifting too close to a freighter wake.  Come to think of it, that might have been the last year we did that trip down to the Detroit river thing.  

On to the independent thoughts.  Jayden Cameron has a series of reflections over on his blog about his recent trip to Medugorje coupled with his reading of Mathew Fox's book "The Pope's War".  Jayden's lastest post is about trying to reconcile these apparent disparate views of the Church--Fox's view of the manipulative corrupt hierarchy vs the pious Marian view of things.  On the surface, this does seem to be a difficult, if not insurmountable task.  Over at Catholica Au, there is a discussion about how one reconciles the somewhat competing views of the 'intellectual' church and who actually qualifies as a member of the 'intellectual' church.  This discussion dovetails nicely with Bill Lyndsey's take on the professional centrists of the American intellectual church.  It all makes one wonder how many different churches we are all talking about and if any of our collective thoughts will coalesce into any kind of meaningfully Christian institution.

The following excerpt is a paragraph from the Catholica.Au link.  It's from a letter to the editor written by Australian Paul Collins.  For those who don't know who Collins is, he like Mathew Fox, is a priest/theologian who ran afoul of Ratzinger's CDF and is now an ex priest:

"..... Personally I think that the real 'Catholic intellectual' engages in the kind of dialogue recommended by Paul VI which is about mutual respect and an openness to other points of view, an essential prerequisite in a pluralist society like Australia. I also think Craven (Greg Craven is the president of the Oz equivalent of Catholic University) defines Catholicism far too narrowly when he refers to defending 'Catholic values and teaching'. Catholicism is much, much more than 'values and teaching'. Catholicism has, as Henri de Lubac argues in his great book Catholicism, a unitive power, a capacity to transcend, to bring opposites together and to reach out and reconcile. To be genuinely 'Catholic' is to fulfil this kind of challenge rather than to go into battle with enemies and defeat them – preferably totally! It is this kind of 'bigger' Catholicism that we need in Australia today and it is this that the 'Catholic intellectual' is called on to defend rather than just 'values and teaching'."

It seems to me that it is the mystical end of the Church which has the 'capacity to transcend, to bring opposites together and to reach out and reconcile'---not the professional intellectual side of which Benedict is a card carrying member.  Interestingly enough, that is the core message of the seers of Medugorje.  It has also been the core message of my own mystical travels of the last thirty years.  This is not a message about right ritual or right moral rules or right definitions of God.  It is a message about living life in empathy with others, about the power of love to change lives, about the necessity for a radical personal conversion.  This conversion is not about converting to a 'true' faith, but about converting one's entire orientation about what is important in real scheme of things.  Ultimately those really important things are about our relationships to ourselves, others, and God's creation. It's about understanding all things are connected.  We are all intimately connected to each other, and we all do have impact on how others are able to live their lives and on the most fundamental and intimate level all things are part of a much greater whole. 

It's hard to maintain judgmental righteous stances against 'others' when you begin to fathom the truth of all things beings intimately connected in relationship to each other.  There's a reason mystics from all the world's spiritual traditions come to this same fundamental understanding, and it doesn't matter if those mystics are from Medugorje or Dharamshala or Machu Picchu or even Los Alamos.  In the final analysis we are all one, and we are all one with God, no matter how we might have been encultured to define that God.  The task is to find the language which makes that truth real for more people.  I think because this is primarily a language of the heart, the most effective expression is through one's acts. But then, I'm pretty sure all of this is nothing more than what Jesus Himself said and taught. 

Unfortunately, it's still much easier to think about and discuss these teachings than it is to convert to them and act on them.  In a video that Jayden has up on his latest Medugorge blog, one of the visionaries talks about Mary's instructions about the difference between preaching to someone and being an example for themIt's the difference between talking about love and being that love in another's life.  When you get that, you also receive an incredible amount of peace in your own life.  I think that's the kind of peace Jesus said He came to bring.  

So on a day when it sounds like WWII outside my windows, and the three cats are totally freaked, I will be meditating on peace.



  1. Happy 4th of July!

    I remember working at the Freedom Festival over the holiday in 1980. The fireworks, visible from both sides of the river were tremendous.

    It was a thrill to attend the traditional Blue Jays vs Tigers game at Tiger Stadium. We headed down to Greektown for some terrific food. (Looked up the box score, Tigers 4, Blue Jays 3)

    Happy Holidays!


  2. Hope you had a great day- thanks for all the work you do in your posts !