Reformation unpopular with Catholics

Local progressive agitator Rita Ague takes issue with a scolding homily delivered at Manitou’s Our Lady of Perpetual Help:

I’m sorry, Father Corbley, but I’m unable to attend your sessions.

I’m one of many cafeteria Catholics and former Catholics who find spirituality in avoiding “spiritual masturbation.” Instead, I work as best I can for justice and peace, and don’t worry about what makes me feel spiritual.

Guess this qualifies me as one of those you cited in your sermon as operating “outside the box” I actually call myself a “Cathepis” – sounds a bit vulgar, but actually stands for a Catholic who agrees with the direction the Church of England has gone in allowing priests to marry, women to be ordained, gay priests with partners to come out of the closet and actually become bishops, etc.

No, I’m not gay, but am a strong supporter of civil rights and Christian, humanistic love and respect for all. I attend both Catholic and Episcopal services, but must admit to leaning more toward the Episcopal, insofar as I’m absolutely turned off with the oh so unchristianlike behavior of so many RC’ers, such as the current pope, our local bishop, the blatantly manipulated “good Catholics” who see my “Healthcare not Warfare” button and signs, and scream at me that I’m going to hell because I support health care reform. They yell that health care reform, including the public option and/or single payer approach, is all about abortion. And I develop my own spirituality by refraining from screaming back at them.

Good luck to you, Father, and God be with you in your journey on a less traveled road.

Rita Ague

1 thought on “Reformation unpopular with Catholics

  1. A reader sent us the original sermon, actually positive.

    Twenty-Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time
    Numbers 11:25-29, James 5:1-6, Mk 9: 38-43, 45, 47-48

    Thinking Outside the Box…

    The Church has always had people who were quirky. People once considered enemies of the Church became saints and great teachers.

    St. Thomas Aquinas’ theology was considered suspect and some even perceived him as heretical… now he is one of the great doctors of the church.

    St. Francis was a rich man who gave it all away so that he could follow Christ in poverty. Some considered him a religious fanatic to be wary of ….now he is one of the most well know saints in the world.

    Historically the Church has been saved not by those who accepted the status quo. But by those who were rude, outspoken, uncomfortable to be with, and generally caused problems.

    Dorothy Day was a Catholic laywoman who pushed the need to see the evils of materialism, poverty, and injustice and by her life shamed us into serving Christ in the poor when we were catering to the rich.

    I often feel concerned about our Church today because we tend to tell people if you don’t fit, get out. If you don’t do it our way, you are not welcome. If you don’t conform, then move on. There is a serious danger in this misguided attitude. First of all it embraces a self-righteous posture but worse it stunts the growth of the Church.

    Thomas Merton, a Trappist monk, dared to walk outside the cloister and bring the contemplative life into the world. Many perceived his ideas as dangerous. Now there are millions who have tasted from the well of contemplation and centering prayer groups have sprung up in every direction.

    Without those who think outside of the box, our Church will die. Jesus also seems to be wary of pushing people out the door. He is not so quick to dismiss people because they march to the sound of their own drum.

    In today’s scriptures we see how both Moses and Jesus did not fit into anyone else’s mold. Moreover, they don’t seem to put that expectation on anyone else. However, their disciples appear to being having tuff wars. They fear those who are not part of their group.
    · Who is in and who is out?
    · Who belongs and who is an outsider?
    · Who is doing God’s work and who is off the mark?
    Interestingly, Moses and Jesus appear much less disturbed by the boat being rocked. They don’t seem to have a need to take control. They seem oblivious to any violation of boundaries. And they both respond in a similar way. Both Moses and Jesus simply ask, “Are they doing good or causing harm?” Their criteria seems to be far less dogmatic. Their only concern is if good is being done, and if that is happening then God is at work. “For whoever is not against us is for us.”

    Fr. Bede Griffiths established an Ashram in India to expand dialogue with Hindus. Many perceived that he was watering down Christianity. Now there is inter-religious dialogue happening at every level of the Church. Pope John Paul II invited every flavor of religion to the Vatican and walked into synagogues and mosques.

    I can’t help but wonder if we tend to squeeze the uncomfortable people out of our lives. Do we tend to alienate those who cause us to think outside the box? Do we distance ourselves from those who irritate our sensibilities of right or wrong? We tend to squirm in the grey areas of life.

    Yet, God never violates our freedom; rather, God draws us into deeper freedom, love, forgiveness, and peace. But do we prefer our safe havens rather than to reach toward the edges of possibility?
    There are many who think that different strands of thought wounds the Church but I am not so sure Jesus agrees. Rather, I think he would simply ask the question is good being done? My hunch is that he would suggest that we give less suspicious glances and chose to look for the good in others.

    Pope John XXIII said, “My children, focus on what unites not what divides.”

    Living with ambiguity is not easy. However, most often those are the places…
    · where God sneaks into our hearts
    · where our sense of compassion is expanded
    · where we will be surprised to discover God in the unexpected places

    Mark’s Gospel goes on to say that one small cup of water, kindness, compassion, understanding, and acceptance will be rewarded. In my community we strive to make five acts of kindness a day. Our founder agreed with Jesus that kindness goes a long way.

    Today in the United States there are nearly 30 million ex-Catholics. One in ten Americans is a former Catholic. The number continues to rise with people who have given up on institutional religion. Increasing numbers of people consider themselves spiritual but not religious. I can’t help but wonder if they were squeezed out of their spiritual communities.

    People who think outside the box are not comfortable to be around. I think that it would be misery to live with a saint. They constantly challenge our sense of stability. My friends, we fall into the illusion that life is stable, predictable, and controllable. However, the truth is that life and God are a mystery that cannot be solved.

    My grandmother used to say: “Tim don’t spend too much time telling me you love me, show me.” I think that bit of wisdom captures today’s Gospel. I think we waste a lot of time criticizing other people motives and therefore loose precious time giving cups of cold water to the thirsty, weary, lost, and forgotten. God’s gifts are not limited to official people, places, and times. Rather, God tends to color outside the lines and steps back to admire the beauty.

    Today Jesus uses dramatic Middle Eastern language to make his point. In vibrant imagery he says if your hand or foot causes you to sin cut it off, if your eye causes you to sin pluck it out. His extreme use of language catches our attention. However, Jesus knows all too well that hands, feet, and eyes do not cause us to sin our heart does.

    Today I think we are being challenged to look deeper within ourselves…
    · To reflect on the honest intensions of our hearts.
    · To wonder about some of the walls that we have erected in our lives.
    · To dare to see the stranger as the prophet, the odd ball as a visionary, and the one who thinks outside the box as the one who might be doing the good that is ours to do.

    My experience is that when I embrace people who think differently from me, my heart becomes gentle, caring, peaceful, and less defensive. The disciples appear terribly defensive and territorial in today’s Gospel. However, the teacher from Nazareth opens the door of possibility and challenges us to think outside the box of who is REALLY doing good.

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