16 November 2010

O hai! back, k? thx

I've been thinking about posting, on and off, for months now. I guess today's the day!

My return to this blog is prompted by developments in my spiritual life.

Those who have previously favored this blog with a reading know my ambivalent feelings towards the Roman Catholic church.

Through the Holy Father, Benedict XVI, God has graciously allowed me to see a restoration of the Church to which I converted 40 years ago, right before "the changes" hit Southern California's Catholic churches.

I have stayed at arms' length for many, many years now. My faith has remained, of course (thank God!). I have delved deeply into the Scriptural studies of Christian denominations. I've learned a great deal, but, in every case, there is a hesitancy, if not outright refusal, to accept the implications of the Gospel of John and Jesus' plain words about His Body and Blood.

That has always bothered me. Other Christians' careful, sometimes extensive, explanations about why the literal words cannot possibly mean what they say is akin to - not the same as - the daily office reading in the 1979 Book of Common Prayer which excises certain verses in Romans 1.

Yesterday, I read a post on the Ignatius Insight blog which has done much to "reconvert" me. It's from an essay in the Homiletic & Pastoral Review, entitled Pope Benedict XVI, Theologian of the Bible. I found it to be a useful overview of how the repudiation of modernism by Pope Pius IX led to a kind of shuttering of the intellectual curiosity and inquiry which scholars should be expected to bring to their study of the Biblical texts, and the eventual reaction to that. In the Spirit of Vatican Two (/sarcasm) Catholic Bible scholars went the route of modern "engagement with the text," resulting in a deconstructionist and reductionist approach to Sacred Scripture. The Holy Father, ever the teacher, corrects this approach, encouraging keen scholarship while retaining the historic, traditional interpretation of the Bible, which is not just another "text" with which to "engage." For a Catholic, to "engage" with the Bible is to "engage" with God. Only by the most strenuous effort can one study the Bible "as literature," without encountering its Author. C.S. Lewis famously wrote, "Those who talk of reading the Bible 'as literature' sometimes mean, I think, reading it without attending to the main thing it is about; like reading Burke with no interest in politics, or reading the Aeneid with no interest in Rome..."

Anyway, I followed the link to the entire essay; I recommend you read it all.

As I read, I was struck once again by the conviction that the Roman Catholic Church, alone, has the reckless courage to read the whole Bible, including the Deuterocanonical books (sometimes called the Apocrypha), and take it seriously. This shows up in all sorts of ways that many find objectionable: marriage is forever; life is sacred and precious; and, of course, Jesus' body and blood are actually present in the elements, once consecrated according to the formula which He gave and clearly commanded, "Do this in memory of me."

I cannot do it on my own, but I want to become part of the Church again. Due to certain life arrangements made back in the day when I was persuaded by the local representatives of the Church that they really didn't want my type around any more, I cannot fully participate in the sacramental life. However, the events of my life over the last several years have convinced me that God can do whatever He jolly well pleases, and, if He wants me to come back home, He will arrange it. In the meantime, I can pray, and contemplate, and love, and, yes, read Scripture, and He is with me and all is well.

Will you pray for me as I take tentative steps back to my spiritual pasture?

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