July 24, 2007

Cures 'R Here

Fr. Corbett, one of my favorite Dominican priests, recently talked about the Scripture passage where Jesus said that we should not worry about what we are to say to the pagans, that the Spirit will tell us what to say. But he confessed that when he's confronted at a party or on the street by an atheist or agnostic he doesn't suddenly say something brilliant under the inspiration of the Spirit. He said that it's more subtle than that, that we are bringing them Christ even if we're unaware of it. (I'm paraphrasing from memory; he said more. Obviously I'd like to be able to remember it more accurately.)

At my wife's local non-denominational church, by contrast, the pastor is getting quite specific messages from God, such as that someone's shoulder is aching. It's quite a difference isn't it? One can't argue with the (empirical) results. She told me that a geologist, an unbeliever who heretofore had seen religion as fanciful and trusted only in the empirical, sheepishly came up and said that it must be him - and then he was cured (he said: "the pastor's hand felt like a hot iron"). Since then he has become a dedicated Christian. (I felt a bit melancholy, despite the happy ending, as these stories obviously give my wife no reason to come home to the Catholic Church. But I must remind myself that what unites us - our common life in Christ - is far greater than what divides us.)

The daily miracle is the changing of bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ. It's something that that not only can't be proven, but can't even been seen or felt, as a shoulder no longer hurting is felt. In this way I think it's perfectly in tune with how I experience God - that he wants me closer to Him than I am to ourselves, and yet he wants to build faith. Because he wants to build faith and not merely empirical knowledge of him, he wants us to exercise faith and that requires not wonderous signs but reliance on the simple testimony of his word. When I receive Communion, I see so clearly why Jesus said, "Unless ye become as little children..." because you have to be childlike to accept that this bit of bread as the Creator of the World.

It's never been my custom to go to Mass on Mondays. And yet yesterday I felt the need to go. (The Spirit?). And lo & behold the sermon happened to be about the desire for a sign. Jesus said they would not be given a sign. This was a sermon I was hungry for.

Miracles performed here daily....

The preacher (a different Dominican) said that we cannot base our faith on any miracle other than the Resurrection. That's not to deny that miracles happen in our age. But he mentioned another church in Columbus with a digital ticker-tape-like marquee ("like a Times Square sign") that mentioned all the miracles that had been accomplished there over the past month or two. A way of advertising. He said if the Catholic Church had such a sign the only thing that should scroll over and over is: "Christ is risen!....Christ is risen!...".

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