Sunday, June 19, 2005

Happy Birthday, Dear Paulines

First off, a blessed and happy Father's Day to all the hard-working and committed Dads among us. Same goes for all the good priests who provide us all with examples of fatherhood, integrity and faith. Dads of all stripes, thank you and God love you.

This past Thursday marked the 90th anniversary of the foundation of the Daughters of St. Paul. The Paulines, whose mission is to utilize every available means of communication in the service of the Gospel, are near and dear to my heart -- they're a gift.

My beloved Big Sis was kind enough to send me a link to Sr. AnnJoan's nunblog, a Pauline's piece of cyberspace. It's definitely worth a look. Check this critique of Good Catholic Girls (whose author once was a conversation partner of mine on prime-time TV):

I keep thinking about that matter of "fighting to change the Church." It just strikes me as so amazingly inappropriate. And I wonder how many of the women highlighted in the book, which I am bringing to Mundelein with me, really see that as their goal. I mean, to believe yourself so guided by the Spirit, and so purely motivated as to give your own experience and perspective that much weight hardly seems rational. I guess I found out the hard way that something can be true without being "the truth."

There is another issue that I noticed at play in the pages I flipped through: the postmodern tendency to identify a statement of doctrine with a moral judgement against a person. This is the most mystifying thing in the world to me, but I see that it is quite common. It makes even holding something as objective reality an offence against someone!

Here is another issue that is out there: believing that Church teachings are some sort of pious ideal that you are most welcome to pursue if so motivated. This is really insidious, because--again--it treats objective truth as an option, and not as the real measure of things. I noticed when I lived in Europe that Europeans do not take laws, for example, nearly as seriously as we Americans do. (I've written about this before, in another context.) But "laws" and "truths" are not the same thing. Falling short of a law and falling short of living by the truth are very different! (Didn't St. Paul indicate as much in Romans and Galatians--never mind 1 and 2 Corinthians?!) And yet our postmodern culture identifies even truth as a kind of law, and allows you to observe it or not. Again, if you have this mindset, then of course you will "fight to change
the Church" which insists that truth is true whether you want to conform to it or not: when truth is not recognized as the reality of a thing, it is bound to be seen as oppressive.

In all this, I am not saying that there are no huge institutional failures. I'm just saying you can't identify "the Church" as "the enemy" when it is more likely a matter of "group think" or an effect of corporate culture. These things are not, as we would say in catechism language, "marks of the Church." They are more like the "scars of the Church," the wounds of our own sinful contribution.

I guess it comes down to: you want to "change the Church"? Look in the mirror.

Wow.... Grazie Dio per le Paulini!



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