Faith matters

I am feeling uneasy and disquieted. The feeling started in listening to a homily  on the driving out of devils. The priest made a valid point … ” a house divided can never stand ” and spoke of the two factions that are within the church viz  the liberals and the conservatives.

When he mentioned Vatican II my mind wandered.  Yesterday … 12th October was the 50th anniversary of the convening of Vatican II and the inspired documents like Lumen Gentium (Light of the Word)  and Gaudium et spes issued at the close of the sessions.

My heart softened with admiration for the courageous Pope John XXIII who led the Church into renewal “wiping away the dust of the centuries” … who deplored pomp and pageantry and once asked a reporter to write “The Pope says …” instead of ….   and who refused to be interviewed by persons kneeling in front of him.

I brought my attention back to the current homily and that is when the disquiet started:  the divided house he spoke of was right there amongst us. The words from the pulpit itself was divisive. The priest disparaged Charismatics who sing praises and talk of Jesus as ‘my friend and brother’, forgetting traditions and the sense of the sacred. He cited the Latin mass which he felt highlighted the sense of the sacred whereas now many, particularly the young, do not recognise the presence of God in the tabernacle and the Eucharistic presence in the host; nor appreciate the need to kneel in receiving communion.

He made a good point “every knee shall bend at the name of Jesus”,  but did not feel that people could come to Jesus as they are but rather recognize that the relationship was not among equals.  The implication was that we should be mindful of our attire and put on an (external) attitude of piety and acknowledgement of the sacred in the House of God. In his opinion, Vatican II had made religious worship too “user friendly”  and the Year of the faith that had been declared was a call to appreciate, understand and renew the traditions of the Catholic faith.

All sounds very good for Catholics… a call to the renewal of faith, 50 years after Vatican II.   The big question though that I feel has not been defined is what is the faith that we are speaking about?  A week ago after mass someone quipped “We have faith in Christ and God; we do not have faith in the Church.” Since this guy is forever making witty and amusing statements, we all laughed, but there is more than a ring of truth in his words. It is the cause of the drift away from the Catholic faith that the declaration of the Year of faith is attempting to discuss.

For me – Religion is a practice;  Spirituality is an experience

In this year of faith, what are we promoting?  The practice of the faith or the experience of Faith?