All four Gospels tell of the sea “stirred up because of a strong wind” (John 6:18) and/or “a great storm so that the boat was being swamped by the waves.” (Matthew 8:23, see also Mark 4:37, Luke 8:23). In these Gospel accounts, as soon as the apostles fixed their eyes on Jesus, the storm lessened and/or they reached land and the usual point made is, “Fix your eyes on Jesus.”
A ship is sometimes used to symbolize the Church – the barque of St. Peter, anyone? – and St. Hippolytus in the third century wrote, “The world is a sea, in which the Church, like a ship, is beaten by the waves, but not submerged.”
As Fr. Corapi said in Buffalo, we know the end of the story. We know that God prevails. In the meantime though, the waves are tall, the wind is strong, and some of us need a hefty dose of Dramamine from all the tossing and turning.
Locally, the ship is at the point of capsizing, and it takes faith indeed that the ship will stay afloat. Parish and school closings with the process questionable, diocesan collaboration with abortion providers and/or supporters, and an abdication of (and at times, hostility to) Church teaching.
Lee Strong’s blog mentioned the diocesan Spirit Alive program and the plan to study acts from now through next Pentecost. I could – and did start to -write reams about what’s problematic. Basically, it’s a 24 week/6 month (by excluding Advent/Christmas and Lent) discussion guide that’s “not meant to be a Bible Study.” How can you spend 6 months on a book in the Bible and not have any part be a Bible study?
For the week that covers Acts 15, there’s a brief description of the Council of Jerusalem and then it dives right into discussing Vatican II,whose documents the participants probably haven’t even read yet. How can you discuss a topic without the foundational Scripture study and reading of the documents themselves?
Moving on from the 24 week plan, I scanned the other links and saw “Resources for Spiritual Growth” and “No Time for Spirituality.”
In the book list for Resources for Spiritual Growth, the only classic is Merton’s The Seven Story Mountain. There’s a second book of Merton’s writings and two books by Fr. Henri Nouwen. But there are also three books by Sr. Joan Chittister, known for her dissidence from Catholic teaching. Why is the diocese recommending the writings of a dissident? And how can they justify that as “spiritual growth”?
So I moved on to the next link: “No Time for Spirituality” and found it divided into No Time, Little Time, and Lots of Time. Under No Time, the suggestions are a daily affirmation of Jesus, say grace before meals, and make the sign of the Cross. Under Little Time: make a promise to attend Sunday Eucharist every Sunday for the next 6 weeks. Make a promise? Is that like my New Year’s resolutions? I promise to answer all my mail the day it’s received, eat only healthy food, and walk for an hour every day. Isn’t Mass worth a commitment rather than a promise?
Whatever happened to Sunday Mass being non-negotiable? Why isn’t Sunday Mass the bare minimum in the No Time list? No wonder people are so poorly catechized here. The foundation here has been built on sand.
Nationally, there’s a laundry list, including the life issues of abortion, embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia; the home-schooled girl who was court-ordered to attend public school, not because for academic reasons, as her academic knowledge was excellent, but because the court deemed she reflected “rigidity on questions of faith;” and a string of vandalism to Catholic Church property.
It’s been a stormy two weeks with Kennedy’s funeral (I’m thinking of writinga post later in the week with thoughts on a round-up on the commentary) and the news of resignation of Bishop Martino who defended Catholic teaching in a diocese that has “pro-choice” Biden and universities’ actions contrary to Catholic teaching. There has been much speculation in the blogosphere that, as David Gibson writes, Bishop Martino “was pushed before he jumped.”
Keep one hand free
The wind and the waves buffeting the barque of St. Peter are real and strong, so hang on to your seat – and keep one hand free for a rosary.