Monday, October 20, 2014

Oh, the Media.... the Drama of the Synod

Media, you So Crazy

Perhaps one of the most frustrating things about being Catholic these days is listening to the gross distortions of our Faith by the mainstream media. They are like vultures who wait to pounce on every event, word, mis-step, etc. of the Church. Sometimes it seems that they don't even TRY to listen and understand what we teach and who we are. They are just focused on trying to point out the ways we are not in step with the popular opinion of the day. But, hey, being a follower of Jesus will never be popular or mainstream or without persecution if it is done authentically and whole-heartedly.

As you've likely heard, the Extraordinary Synod on the Family has just wrapped up its first phase at the Vatican. As usual, the media hasn't known what to make of all that's been reported from the Synod. They want so desperately for our teachings to come into line with what popular culture has ordained as "truth." They want to condemn the Church for being insensitive, not "politically correct." Ugghhh.

Here are a few things that must be kept in mind ---

1. The Catholic Church IS loving, compassionate, and welcoming to all people, regardless of their gender, sexuality, life choices, etc. Jesus came for all, most especially for sinners. The church is NOT a refuge for saints, but rather a hospital for sinners. We're all sinners. We're called to build each other up in community and to welcome and support one another.

2.  Natural Law and Truth don't change. Just because society has chosen to proclaim that any and all types of sexual relationships are to be accepted and celebrated, that doesn't make them morally acceptable or legitimate. The Church is simply not going to "throw out" the Tradition and Truth. We're not going to just say, "Well, everyone's doing it. Let's just catch up with the times and change these teachings." Not. Going. To. Happen. The media needs to stop anticipating and hyping that possibility.

3. The Church's moral teachings do not come from a place of hostility or exclusion. They are meant to guide us to wholeness, holiness, and happiness.

4. The fact that moral truths don't change  doesn't mean that Catholics are (or are called to be) rigid, judgmental, or exclusionary. Rather, we (clergy as well as laity) are called to be compassionate, loving, and welcoming just as Jesus was. Are we / have we been perfect at that? No. Of course not. We have much to learn about welcoming and ministering to and with people who have felt excluded and judged and hurt.  This is one area where there has been discord at the Synod and in the Church. How do we reach out and remain flexible, open, and compassionate and still preach, teach, and live morally? This is where we need the guidance and grace of the Holy Spirit.

I found this text of the speech by Pope Francis to be helpful in sorting out the reports on the Synod. I hope you'll read it and join me in praying for Pope Francis, the bishops, and the Church as we strive to proclaim Truth, extend compassion, and bring hope to a hurting world.

A powerful section of Pope Francis' speech at the close of the synod:

"And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people’s wound; who doesn’t see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people. This is the Church, One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic and composed of sinners, needful of God’s mercy. This is the Church, the true bride of Christ, who seeks to be faithful to her spouse and to her doctrine. It is the Church that is not afraid to eat and drink with prostitutes and publicans. The Church that has the doors wide open to receive the needy, the penitent, and not only the just or those who believe they are perfect! The Church that is not ashamed of the fallen brother and pretends not to see him, but on the contrary feels involved and almost obliged to lift him up and to encourage him to take up the journey again and accompany him toward a definitive encounter with her Spouse, in the heavenly Jerusalem.
The is the Church, our Mother! And when the Church, in the variety of her charisms, expresses herself in communion, she cannot err: it is the beauty and the strength of the sensus fidei, of that supernatural sense of the faith which is bestowed by the Holy Spirit so that, together, we can all enter into the heart of the Gospel and learn to follow Jesus in our life. And this should never be seen as a source of confusion and discord."

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