December 19, 2008

Various & Sundry

I was privy to an exchange between two Byzantine Catholics which included a line that I don't think you'd hear in a Roman Catholic or Protestant setting:
"It would have been tempting to really give the hard @ss a piece of your mind. Liturgy is paying off for you."
"Liturgy is paying off for you." My guess is the Catholic might say, given that circumstance, "The praying you've been doing is really paying off." The Protestant might say, "That bible-reading or small group you are doing is paying off." Or "the Spirit is working on you."

Pope Benedict teaches the liturgy's indivisibility from charity:
Love for the poor and the divine liturgy go hand in hand, love for the poor is liturgy. The two horizons are present in every liturgy that is celebrated and experienced in the Church which, by her nature, is opposed to any separation between worship and life, between faith and works, between prayer and charity for the brethren.
Defining the poor further, Benedict writes:
We know that other, non-material forms of poverty exist which are not the direct and automatic consequence of material deprivation. For example, in advanced wealthy societies, there is evidence of marginalization, as well as affective, moral and spiritual poverty, seen in people whose interior lives are disoriented and who experience various forms of malaise despite their economic prosperity.

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One line in the NFP literature that really struck me was one nobody ever told me about. Literally no one ever said "face it, our estimate of our future wealth and capabilities tends to be much more pessimistic than God's." I thought I was the only one who underestimated his future wealth and capabilities, or at least have underestimated them up to now.

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Terrence Berres points us to this Rolheiser piece which includes this:
Like Pope Benedict's first Encyclical, this book might too be entitled: God is Love. It is a good corrective to many popular and intellectual images of God that conceive of God as cold, distant, impersonal, and needlessly judgmental...The real task of evangelization today is very much that of trying to evangelize the imagination, of trying to put healthy, life-giving images of God into the popular imagination.
Which, if you think about it, is rather amazing isn't it? That is, that we tend to have poor images of God? I don't get the sense that Muslims see God as distant, cold and impersonal despite their conception of God's love being, in my opinion, infinitely poorer than ours given that ours came down to earth and died for us. Assuming what Rolheiser says is true, I'll throw out a bunch of possible reasons and see what sticks:

  • lingering Deism produced during West's Enlightenment

  • lingering Jansenist heresy

  • Islamic clannish societies produce less alienation and anomie.

  • To some extent we take our image of God from our earthly fathers; fathers in West are devalued and/or distant from their children.

  • The West is suffering-phobic and so God is seen as not a consistent reliever of pain.

  • Lack of prayer

  • Fr. Groeschel says that prosperity, paradoxically, breeds anxiety. (Presumably because once you have it, you could lose it.) Anxiety is an enemy to trust of God.
  • Of course seeing God as distant and unloving is almost literally the original sin. It was Adam & Eve's seeing God as not having their best interests in mind that led to obeying the serpent instead of God.

    2 comments:

    Ellyn said...

    Like the new look...

    :)

    TS said...

    Thanks Ellyn. One of Dylan's blogs has this layout and so I couldn't resist.