Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Church and Belief Against the Odds

Believing in the Church

The Church is an object of faith. In the Apostles' Creed we pray: "I believe in God, the Father ... in Jesus Christ, his only Son - in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and the life everlasting." We must believe in the Church! The Apostles' Creed does not say that the Church is an organization that helps us to believe in God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. No, we are called to believe in the Church with the same faith we believe in God.

Often it seems harder to believe in the Church than to believe in God. But whenever we separate our belief in God from our belief in the Church, we become unbelievers. God has given us the Church as the place where God becomes God-with-us.


The Two Sides of One Faith

Our faith in God who sent his Son to become God-with-us and who, with his Son, sent his Spirit to become God-within-us cannot be real without our faith in the Church. The Church is that unlikely body of people through whom God chooses to reveal God's love for us. Just as it seems unlikely to us that God chose to become human in a young girl living in a small, not very respected town in the Middle East nearly two thousand years ago, it seems unlikely that God chose to continue his work of salvation in a community of people constantly torn apart by arguments, prejudices, authority conflicts, and power games.

Still, believing in Jesus and believing in the Church are two sides of one faith. It is unlikely but divine!


Superabundant Grace

Over the centuries the Church has done enough to make any critical person want to leave it. Its history of violent crusades, pogroms, power struggles, oppression, excommunications, executions, manipulation of people and ideas, and constantly recurring divisions is there for everyone to see and be appalled by.

Can we believe that this is the same Church that carries in its center the Word of God and the sacraments of God's healing love? Can we trust that in the midst of all its human brokenness the Church presents the broken body of Christ to the world as food for eternal life? Can we acknowledge that where sin is abundant grace is superabundant, and that where promises are broken over and again God's promise stands unshaken? To believe is to answer yes to these questions.


The Church, God's People

As Jesus was one human person among many, the Church is one organization among many. And just as there may have been people with more attractive appearances than Jesus, there may be many organizations that are a lot better run than the Church. But Jesus is the Christ appearing among us to reveal God's love, and the Church is his people called together to make his presence visible in today's world.

Would we have recognized Jesus as the Christ if we had met him many years ago? Are we able to recognize him today in his body, the Church? We are asked to make a leap of faith. If we dare to do it our eyes will be opened and we will see the glory of God.


Source: Daily Reflections by Henri Nouwen, by subscription to the Henri Nouwen Society:

Monday, October 18, 2010

Where were you on October 17 2010?

It seems most "dyed in the merino wool" Catholics were glued to their TV sets, watching the coverage of the canonisation of Mary MacKillop.

I dropped by the show at the Cathedral of St Stephen in Brisbane but left sadly wondering about the fascination of Catholicism with pomp and circumstance. The MacKillop bazaar was doing a roaring trade complete with celebrity pics of our Mary (no, not the Danish One) Rosary beads with Mary's head and everything except MacKillop condoms available for the devotees.

The best commentary I have read to date is from Mark Bahnisch: Both atheist ‘rationalism’ and Catholic triumphalism betray Mary MacKillop’s legacy

The highlight of my day was actually the Queensland Launch of Anti-Poverty Week held at Musgrave Park in West End.

The locals came along for a BBQ and some music from those who know the journey from poverty to community. Agencies had their banners, the Salvos offered free Fair Trade coffee and Vinnies and Red Cross worked together to prepare the snags and the banquet.

The numbers weren't big. Challenging structures that leave people in poverty isn't good news on a warm Sunday in Brisbane. I noticed that none of the
local Churches had a presence and it probably wasn't fair to expect any religious orders to come along to something that wasn't about the vow of poverty.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

ABSOLUTE MUST READ: Causes of the Unfathomable Clerical Silence on Clergy Sex Abuse

Join a discussion on this article on the Catholica Forum

This extraordinarily insightful and fact-filled essay by Vinnie Nauheimer is an absolute must read for everyone who wants to understand the WHY of clergy sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Church and its cover up.

Voice from the Desert is proud to have published many of Vinnie’s previous work. This one is the best, in my judgment.

Also by Vinnie:
The Pope Soars to new Heights of Hypocrisy!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Sacrd music of the Abrahamic Faiths

Hosted by the Multi-Faith Centre of Griffith University and the Qld Forum for Christians, Jews and Muslims.

Venue: Griffith University Multi-Faith Centre, Nathan Campus.

Annual Evening Of Jewish, Christian & Muslim Sacred Voices and Music followed by a Kosher-Halal Supper

The programme will include contributions by Christian school voices, a breathtaking Muslim chant, lively Jewish groups and QCT's Georgia Corowa, Coordinator of the Churches Together Indigenous People's Partnership (CTIPP) and a professional musician.

All are welcome - suitable for youth upwards (children welcome with accompaniment).

Entry is free - gold coin donations welcome

RSVP: by 29th October

Location Map - then click on campus maps, Nathan campus, Building N35 at grid N6. Free parking after 7pm.

Click here to read about last year's event.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Love’s Urgent Longings: Wrestling with belief in today’s Church

Book Love’s Urgent Longings: Wrestling with belief in today’s Church, the latest offering from Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (pictured), was launched by Michael Whelan SM in the Crypt of St Patrick’s Church in the Rocks, Sydney.

The text of Michael's talk: A PILGRIM’S PROGRESS: RECLAIMING A RICH TRADITION a great introduction to this work from one of Australia's more adventurous Church leaders in recent times.

This book, published by John Garratt Publishing, Melbourne, presents the story of a spiritual journey made over the past few years by Bishop Robinson.

In seeking answers to the urgent longings of the title, he goes back to basics to encounter the spiritual, to consciously respond to the force of his deepest desires and to understand the ways that move him towards higher goals. This is an intensely personal journey, but one that is likely to resonate with many Catholics. It follows Bishop Robinson’s explosive Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church: Reclaiming the Spirit of Jesus, which offered a critique of the Church’s use and misuse of power.

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Encounter - James Alison: Sexuality, Certainty and Salvation

Encounter - James Alison: Sexuality, Certainty and Salvation

ABC Radio National | 10 October 2010

Priest and theologian James Alison believes that there are bright glimmers of hope to be found in the Catholic Church's wrestling with issues around homosexuality. He reflects on his own experience as a gay Catholic, on the givenness of sexual orientation, and on what he calls 'the shape of God's affection'.
Producer: David Rutledge
Repeated Wednesday 16 October, 7.05pm; and Thursday 14 October, 4.05am