Saturday, 1 October 2011

All Change...

This weekend marks several changes. Dominique, our youngest, celebrates her 13th birthday, so we now have no pre-teens for the first time for 21 years. Ant is already at University, and Bernie leaves this weekend for her University, so we will be effectively a 2 child house for the first time for fifteen years. I turned 50 recently and Anna is about to do so. And so life goes on.

All of which has had me reflecting on change and the need for stability.

In human life, we see that both are important. Change is a sign of life: we grow, we develop, we learn and so on. Stagnation is the antithesis of that. On the other hand, we also need stability: some unchanging foundation which gives us the security to embrace necessary change. Our Lord is that rock of stability - the stone rejected by the builders - and he delegated that function in part to Peter - the Rock on which the Church is founded.

Getting that balance between change and stability right is a challenge. Some on the traditional side of the Church are suspicious of any change at all - and indeed that is my tendency. Others see a need for relentless change and innovation.

For what it's worth, my view is that it is important to recognise what should and what shouldn't change - and whether some things fall into neither category.

So, for example, I should change. I am a sinner and am called to be a saint. The same is true of you, of course (as far as I know, my readership is exclusively sinners...)

On the other hand, the teaching of the Church, founded on Christ's authority and inspired by the Holy Spirit, is unchanging, and those who seek to change it are dashing themselves against a rock.

And yet, somehow, it is always easier to demand that the Church change her teaching, in those areas that clash with one's own self-will, than to change oneself.

And the other tricky bit is all those things which fall in neither camp: things which are not required to change, but are not required to be unchanging - such as the way we celebrate liturgy.

Again, my own view is that those who desire relentless innovation were given to free a rein in the latter half of the last century, and the Church now has to re-establish strong connections with her traditional practice. But it would be a terrible irony if the intransigence of traditionalists makes that more difficult rather than easier...

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