Lent is a chance to reassess where we are; a time of penance.
If press of business at work was the primary reason to refrain from blogging, there was a secondary one. It seemed impossible to blog and remain spiritually calm. The invasion of modern culture wars into the realm of religion was inevitable, but becomes wearing to one who finds it difficult to define himself in those terms.
At the heart of my own faith is the encounter with Christ in the Eucharist. That is the Christ who I encounter in the Holy Scriptures, who tells us that we will eat of His body and drink of His blood, and that He is the Way, the Truth and the Light. Were that not the case then there would be a disconnect between reason and experience, and my own Christianity rests on those two pillars- reason and experience. But these two are mediated through the Church and its traditions. I do not understand these things solely by the light of my own reason, although I constantly test them against it; I am part of a living tradition. I am but one of a great cloud of witnesses.
The spoken Word matters to me a great deal. Without Scripture I would be lost. But to interpret it by the sole light of my own reason would also be to risk becoming lost. Christ became man so that I, like other sinners, might receive life, and life eternal. My experience tells me that the Christ of Scripture is the one I encounter at the Eucharist; the Church reinforces that and provides me with a sacramental understanding of what, and who, I have received; it is a memorial of His saving Passion; but it is Him too not simply a memorial. I know this through what I feel; but I find reinforcement and validation for what I feel in the tradition and teaching of the Church.
Modern critical theorists of Scripture made the attempt to make it conform to their own limited, non-sacramental understanding of the world; ruling out miracles on the a priori ground that they could not exist. That was to insert one’s own understanding in place of that of the Church, which has always had the humility to accept what the Scripture it received described; it does not attempt to know better than the eye-witnesses. One’s unaided understanding might lead one astray. Had the Lord Jesus wished us to get our teaching about Him from a book alone, then undoubtedly He could have written that book. Instead He inspired His followers to write and collect what was written, providing, through the Church He founded, an infallible interpreter in cases of doubt.
In all of that, there is for me, only one culture war – that of the World against that of the Church. Of the mystery of the existence of many churches, I have no opinion. I have met better men and women than myself in many other Churches, and I leave any verdict on their ultimate fate where it belongs, with the Only Just Judge. I observe, with no further comment, that there are Anglicans and Orthodox with whom I have more in common than some Catholics I know. We share the characteristic of trying to balance faith, reason and tradition, and of not trying to give priority to whatsoever might be novel, whilst, at the same time, not turning our face against the fact that Spirit is at work in the Church
As I prepare for Lent, I am drawn back to this place and to the fellowship it provides.