I want to return to Sr Moira O'Sullvan's letter to the Bitter Pill, on which I have already commented here.
In particular, I want to re-visit her suggestion that the priests' letter, which I see as an admirable exercise of their teaching ministry, 'seems to be pre-empting the working of the Holy Spirit during the Synod by arriving at conclusions before debate, prayer and discernment.'
I return to this, as I suspect that it will be the main line of attack on the Church's teaching and discipline in the run-up to the Synod. For it seems such an unobjectionable - indeed Catholic - line of thought: Make Room for the Holy Spirit. Who could argue with that?
The answer, of course, is that nobody could. However, it is what is being smuggled in with that thought that we need to attend to. The implication is that pointing out that the Church has already settled this issue, on the authority of Christ Himself, the blessed Apostles, the Magisterium and the universal Tradition of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, in communion with Peter, is somehow elbowing out the Holy Spirit. I would suggest that the reverse is the case.
Whereas it would seem that Sr Moira and those who think like her believe that to make room for the Holy Spirit, we have to put aside all of that, and instead orientate ourself according to the mores of contemporary society.
So how do we make room for the Holy Spirit?
I would suggest that we start by clearing our lives, (including our minds and hearts) of sin: sacramental confession suggests itself. We then follow Our Lord's example at the start of his public ministry, and before all His great works, of seeking the Spirit in prayer and fasting.
Beyond that, we look where the Spirit is to be found. It is the Holy Spirit which animates Christ's Mystical Body, the Church, starting at Pentecost: so to listen to what the Church has consistently taught, since Pentecost, is to listen to the Holy Spirit.
And we practice the virtues: not least the unfashionable ones, such as humility and obedience, submitting ourselves to the teaching of that Mystical Body, animated by the Holy Spirit, even when it inconveniences us, or is hard to hear. Because finally, to listen to the Church is to listen to Christ: we cannot see Christ's teaching and the Holy Spirit's as in any way separable. And as St Peter said: Lord, to whom else should we go? You have the message of eternal life...
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