Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Make Room for the Holy Spirit

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...


4 comments:

Mark Lambert said...

I think you write with great clarity on this. The hallmark of this kind of thinking is selfishness, rather than humility before God. Until we re-concecrate ourselves to Almighty God, I don't see how we can avoid this sort of selfish spirituality infiltrating & dictating others approach.

Bruvver Eccles said...

God the Father is patriarchal, so we can't listen to Him. God the Son made His views abundantly clear, and they're not in keeping with the Pill mentality. That just leaves the Holy Spirit, whom nobody really understands, as the excuse for overturning existing teaching. Throw in a few buzzwords like mercy and forgiveness, even where inappropriate, and you have the whole story.

Patricius said...

What strikes me as bizarre in all of this is the idea that the Church is somehow in ignorance and needing to discern God's will vis a vis marriage- as if our Saviour's words as recorded in the Gospels and both constant and recent magisterial teaching were somehow inadequate. They appear to be making an obscurity of plain daylight.

Anonymous said...

Good afternoon

I have read Sr O'Sullivan's comments. I think that there are two sides to the issue.

Firstly, the Holy Father deemed it right to open a discussion on reception of the Sacraments, as the good Sister refers to this and the other 'issues'.
These 'issues' have been raised for many years. They are not new. There have been repeated attempts to high profile these topics and force a formation of a Synod to moot.

Secondly, there are no powers invested in the Roman Catholic Church which allow to fundamentally change the Teachings of Christ Himself.

Pastoral needs, change from year to year, even month to month. The Church does not allow a Teaching/Rule of God, to be changed because society thinks it should be changed. I repeat: there is no provision for such change. Fads come and go. Society behaves to adopt changes that are en vogue. What is now permitted and acceptable maybe totally unacceptable in 10 or 20 years time. Holy Mother Church does not change. She stands and takes the criticism because she will not / cannot change, the blows, the unfaithfulness of her Bishops and Priests and carries on.

Why? Because of the nearly 500 Priests who stand firm and defend Holy Mother Church.
Because of the power of the Holy Spirit in protecting The Truth of the Word of
God.
Because ‘God’s Will be done on earth as it is in heaven’.

The Priests who have boldly signed the letter which refers to the access to the Sacraments, have the support of the laity because these Priests are following the Teachings of Christ and are not succumbing to the pressures of liberal individuals who wish or think that they are doing God a service when lobbying for great changes in the Church. When seeking public adoration or popularity. When failing to Lead and correct where necessary as Bishops.

The ‘division’ referred to by the good Sister, is the division caused and orchestrated by individuals or groups that think they are the 'voice' of Catholics and who desire to force changes in the Catholic world. The other side of the coin, are those Catholics who are faithful to the Teachings of Christ and His faithful Popes.

Do not be surprised when His Holiness decrees at the Synod, later on this year, that there will not be any changes with regards to the rules of matrimony being a life long commitment that cannot be severed unless annulled. That second sexual unions between a man and woman will not be recognized as valid in the eyes of the Church and will remain an act of sin, and therefore will not allow the admissibility of the Sacraments to the couple.
Also, what is important and very interesting is the names who did not appear on the list of signatures. Granted, some did not see it, others were away and some were asleep.
Time to wake up and be counted—choose which side you are on!

Kinga Gray-Grzeczynska
A Roman Catholic lawyer