The hour has come, drop your water pot.

The hour will come, in fact it is here already,

when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth:

that is the kind of worshiper the Father wants.

God is spirit,

and those who worship

must worship in spirit and truth.

— John 4:23-24

 

You remember this woman whom the Lord met at the well and prophetically exposed her sin of having multiple marriage issues: five husbands and one she was living with who wasn’t her husband. And recall that once she repented and accepted Christ as her Messiah she puts down her water jar and hurries back to her own town to tell them about the Lord, Jesus. There’s much to this gospel account of course but, it’s on this one aspect of leaving the water jar that I find St Augustine’s moral commentary so applicable to our times:

The water jar is the fallen desire of man that draws pleasure from the dark wells of the world, but is never satisfied for long.

Conversion to Christ moves us, like the Samaritan woman, to renounce the world , leave behind the desires of our earthen vessels, and follow a new way of life.

I never thought I’d live to see the day when confusion reigns in the church regarding what it means to live according to the Gospel; and it’s emanating from His own apostles. There is nothing in the teaching of Jesus…no thing…that would ever encourage His followers to “draw pleasure from the wells of the world.” St Paul tells us,

the wage paid by sin is death.

—Romans 6:23

Have we forgotten this most basic message of the Gospel; that sin is an offence against God? It sets itself against God’s love for us and turns our hearts away from it.

Like the first sin, it is a disobedience, a revolt against God through the will to become”like gods,”

knowing and determining good from evil. Sin is thus “love of oneself even to the contempt of God.”

In this proud self exaltation, sin is diametrically opposed to the obedience of Jesus,

which achieves our salvation.

—(CCC 1850)

God did not leave us to ourselves, unless we say we have no sin, for

…if we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

—1 John 8-9

This is the problem in our society but, more so in the church who seems to desire acceptance with a world not convinced of it’s sin. And conversion is– what then– too ‘old school’ for people who in their modernity find their perverse attachments irresistible and thereby excusable? OK, if that’s what you want to believe. But then, don’t call it Christianity and definitely let’s not say this is what Holy Mother Church has ever taught her children.

 Conversion requires a convincing of sin; it includes the interior judgement of conscience, and this, being a proof of the action of the Spirit of truth in man’s inmost being, becomes at the same time the start of a new grant of grace and love.

—(CCC 1848)

We must worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

The Gospel is the revelation in Jesus Christ of God’s mercy to sinners.

That’s us.

The angel announced to Joseph: “You shall call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.

—( CCC 1846)

That’s what we need: salvation.

My sixth grade class understands this now, but this message– of worshiping God in Spirit and truth– might become more difficult in the coming months, especially when in reaction to the recent Synod on the family a Bishop blogs about his view from the locker room; whatever that means. As the Synod began, he enthusiastically welcomed the discussions taking place. 

Today’s report on the first week of deliberations is the most open and honest and pastoral document I have ever seen or read. It really indicates a Church leadership which is seeking to reconcile, love and pastorally care for many who have felt mistreated, disowned or unwelcome: those divorced and remarried outside of canonical form (in civil second marriage, for example) can see in the document a genuine care and concern for them which has not previously been seen. Gay and Lesbian Catholics can find the beginning of a call to them: don’t leave us and give us a chance to find both the right and charitable vocabulary as well pastoral openness which makes the future better than the past.

 

Young people preparing for marriage can find our Church leadership acknowledging the real challenges of living in this moment (cohabitation is an absolute economic reality for many, for example) and asking what can the Church do better to prepare them for marriage in their lived reality today? Perhaps it is with unholy glee that I found in Cardinal Erdo’s synthesis of the first week of the Synod almost a carbon copy of what the people of God of St. Petersburg said in the pre-Christmas and pre-Synod survey of local Catholic opinion on these and other matters.

 

Our Church is listening the voice of the people!

 

Divorced and remarried outside canonical form have felt mistreated? Gay and Lesbian Catholics need a more charitable vocabulary? Cohabitation is an absolute economic reality for many? Unholy glee?

Now to the locker room discussion, where he gives an analysis of the “two teams” at play:

There clearly were two teams on the field for this encounter which I would characterize as Team A and Team B. Team A was enthralled by and anxious to play for and with Pope Francis primarily in helping the Church of the future seek out and return the “lost sheep.” Their game plan was aggressive, embracing and encompassing the lived experiences of the people from whom they came, and desirous of opening up a possible new game plan for the Church they love and serve.

I only know of one team,” I believe in the One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, Church,” and one game plan; the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the sin of mankind. But, here’s his team B,

Team B was also made up of those who love the Church but wish to play a more cautious game plan, conceding as little precious yardage as possible and defensively holding the line against what they viewed as an aggressive offense pulled together by Team A. The difference that I saw during “play” and after the “game” was that Team B said they seemed not to understand clearly enough the coach’s (read that the Pope’s) game plan so they chose to play it “safe” or cautiously. –  

A cautious game plan..not conceding precious yardage, playing it safe..is that what we have reduced obedience to the Cross of Christ? Gained and lost …yardage?

Oh, but wait we have further instructions before the ‘Super Bowl” next year and he knows what the playbook might look like..

Now “the game plan” goes to teams (aka (arch) dioceses) throughout the world for reflection, prayer, and possible revision prior to “the Super Bowl” on marriage and family life which begins in Rome on October 4th, 2015.

 

If those who will be attending the next Synod are listening to the voice of the Church throughout the world,

 

the final report next year will look an awful lot like the playbook for Team A.

 

I know for certain that my diocese wants to see some form of relief to those who have divorced and remarried and that would be true of priests, deacons, religious sisters and laity. They and I want the principal of the indissolubility of marriage to be retained and upheld, but there are ways in which the Church can reach out to great people who erred in their first choice of spouse and now find themselves in a loving, caring, mutually trusting and  giving relationship. –

Even if it is adultery, it’s a loving caring relationship.

Gay and Lesbians…we can’t promise to recognize your unions as sacramental, but not to worry,

I also know for certain that this local Church wants to see us welcome members of the Gay and Lesbian community. I cannot, we cannot promise them that we will ever be likely to recognize the nature of their unions as sacramental but if they are willing to accept that reality, then they can be full participants in the life of the Church.

 

I know that many of my pastors have shared with me that Gay and Lesbian parents who have adopted children are wonderful, loving and caring parents and neither my people and my priests nor the laity wish to see the children punished by being denied baptism or the sacraments or being excluded from Catholic schools and religious formation programs because they have two daddies or two mommies. –

Two daddies and two mommies. That’s so sweet, isn’t it?

And what if our poor dear children– whom we as parents in contradiction to the world, taught that sex belongs in a marriage with one man and one woman– decide to ‘shack up’ as my dad called it? It’s only a little pain to bear,

I also know many parents who, while feeling some pain that their sons and daughters are “living together” with someone likely some day to be their spouse, understand they those same children now find it absolutely financially necessary to live together just to stay alive in the work place. –  

They’re gonna get married eventually. That makes it okay people; it’s about economics. Get over yourselves you strict overbearing parents. He is glad that the ” neurolgic” issues he addressed above were openly discussed. Neurolgic? Is he implying team B has some kind of dysfunction or disorder?

It’s a new day in the church, don’t you know. It’s all about collegiality, ‘new openness, exercised in a most pristine form’. It was all a preparation before the ‘two teams meet up again’ for the big game. I’m so glad he clarified at the end of his post that he didn’t think the Synod was a game, but an opportunity for the church to experience the Holy Spirit guiding the church under the watchful eye of a Shephard who,

will more effectively spread the gospel in our day.

Let me tell you what team I’m on. I’m on the team that drops the water pot, admits I’m a sinner, and runs to tell all who will listen;

that at the very hour when Jesus Christ, God and Man, hung on the cross on the hill at Calvary, unrecognizable, having suffered the betrayal of Judas, Peter’s denial, mutilation from scourging, bleeding profusely, suffering murderous hatred and mockery by the leaders and people,

..at that very hour of darkness, the hour of the prince of this world,

the sacrifice of Christ secretly becomes the source from which the forgiveness of our sins

will pour forth inexhaustibly.

—CCC 1851

The hour has come. Drop your water pot, renounce the world, and follow Christ.

 

+PAX

 

4 Comments

  1. Nancy
    Oct 23, 2014

    I am almost in tears. Bookmarking, saving, going to send friends over here. I’ve read so many things about all of this, but this is the best in my humble opinion. “..if that’s what you want to believe. But then, don’t call it Christianity and definitely let’s not say this is what Holy Mother Church has ever taught her children.” THANK YOU for this touch of needed sanity, and thanks be to God. You have said it so very well.

    • Caroline
      Oct 24, 2014

      Nancy…You’re always such a blessing. We’ll keep each other sane through all this; and remember I’ll get the van if you have the coats.Looks like diocesan Siberia might just be on our trip-tik. :-) +

  2. Patricia
    Oct 24, 2014

    Caroline, thank you so much for writing this post. It’s absolutely the truth, and I agree with Nancy that I don’t think I have read anything better regarding the Synod. I too am going to send people over here. I wish this post could get on NewAdvent.com or Patheos. It deserves to be read by as many Catholics as possible. What a courageous heart you have, springing no doubt from your great love for our Lord. I am so tired of pretending that it’s all going to be okay. I just returned from Rome. Everyone is happy there. Business is thriving. Pope Francis is so popular that tourists are flooding the city. Our Lord was never so popular. I have struggled. I want to be loyal to the Vicar of Christ and our bishops. I want to love them. But, I am so disappointed….that they would indulge those who are breaking God’s commandments. Where will it all end? If one is infertile and cannot bear it, then should IVF be permitted because the desire to bear children is so painful? In our sex-saturated culture, who can be expected to remain pure…surely that is too much to ask. But, God will understand. And what about contraception? Can that be far behind, after all “everyone does it.” From the reading I’ve done on the subject, I think we are going to be in a small minority. Save a coat for me.
    I’m tired of pretending nothing is really wrong here….and the Lord so hates the lukewarm. God bless you, Caroline! This post was so inspired. xoxoxo

    • Caroline
      Oct 24, 2014

      Patricia, I’m afraid to think where this will all end but, I’m grateful for a spiritual director who keeps me on the straight and narrow. You ask very good questions about IVF and contraception. Any hope of clarity coming from the culture with regards to morality is a lost cause, but we certainly have a right to expect it from our leaders. I think of St Paul’s words: Follow me as I follow Christ (1 Cor 11:1)

      I don’t envy the magisterium in their duty to call one another to accountability. Discernment is going to be so necessary in the coming days.

      That the remnant is always a small minority were Pope Emeritus Benedict’s thoughts too; and I recall him expressing that he’d rather have a small faithful church any day.

      You know my saying :-) Whatever good I do is from the Lord. And all the mistakes are mine.
      Holy Scripture and the Catechism say it all. I only pray people study them both in the coming days.
      There’s plenty of room in the van and Nancy’s got the coats!

      Love and blessings always +

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