A recent post raised a very pertinent question from our long-time and valued discussant, Jock to the effect that did I really want to go down the road of using the blog to argue with Bosco. It was an excellent point which I took in the spirit it was meant. There comes, after all, a point where reasoning with the mortal equivalent of a brick wall should stop. One simply has to acknowledge that one has done all that is possible and leave the rest to God.
Jock’s comment did, however, raise the whole question of what this place is for, which, in turn took me to some wise comments by Eugene Peterson, which I wanted to share with readers here.
The Christian life consists in what God does for us, not what we do for God … [it] consists in what god says to us, not what we say about God … if we do not return to Square One every time we act, each time we speak,, beginning from God and God’s word, we will soon be practiising a spirituality that has little to do or nothing to do with God. [Evelyn Underhill’s Prayer Book, p. vi).
How do we do that?
For Catholics there are two powerful spiritual exercises which help: Eucharistic Adoration and praying the Rosary. Daily reorientation toward God is a vital part of our spiritual life, and private prayer can also be an aid, as is guided reading of the Scriptures and sharing one’s thoughts with fellow Christians.
Back to our friend Jock here. I was much struck by what he has had to say about how he has found the experience of being part of a Church so difficult that he no longer attends. I can understand that. As a Catholic, being able to partake of the Eucharistic feast is essential, but there have been times when I have felt guilty about the feelings evoked by some fellow parishioners, and also, to be frank about the feelings I clearly evoked in them. Being English I shall leave it at “not easy,” and move on. Yet, I cannot help but feel that Christians are meant to be part of a community, and to the extent that this place allows a virtual community to exist, I value it, and your participation.
But what I would add is this. If you are an atheist who wishes to prove that God does not exist, then there are better places for you to exercise your own chosen ministry, as I shall not be biting. The same is true if you find Catholic expressions of the Faith beyond your tolerance. Of course you have the right to do that; but what you won’t have is the right to do it here. There is a line between questioning and debating, which I am always happy to do, and denigration and assumptions that Catholic expressions of the Faith are “wrong.” So, taking our friend Bosco as the model here. He can continue his long diatribe against the Catholic Church, but without any further substantive responses from me.
That is because, in the end, this place exists as a community, and whilst a community can have, and often does have, robust exchanges of views, it exists in an atmosphere of mutual respect. Our friend Jock is a good example of this. He is not a Catholic, but he makes excellent points and asks good questions and is (usually) respectful. His contributions here are much appreciated, as are those from other contributors, few of whom as Roman Catholics.
It would be appropriate to end this with an early Christian prayer:
Pour down on us, O Lord God, the Spirit of Your love and ever preserve in the same mutual charity those whom you have fed with the same havenly bread.
I ran out of patience with my dear brother Bosco several years ago. Not having heard of him recently, I wondered whether he might have taken up religion, but no such luck. Nor has he taken up listening to what other people have to say.
I think I am seeking deeper communion myself, to find others who understand and experience those feelings that are hard to describe but are recognised by kindred spirits.
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Jock McSporran said:
Chalcedon – thank you for your kind words! But I comment here because you write interesting posts which raise points for discussion – and you enjoy engaging in reasonable discussion.
I feel that Bosco adds absolutely nothing – the comments under the post degenerate into screeds of drivel – making the comments section less interesting and a bit of a drag – trying to ignore the Bosco stuff and get to the good bits.
It’s good of you to do this – your posts are usually well written and well worth reading and I wonder where you get the time from to do it. Please keep going.
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Thank you Jock. One of the few benefits of the pandemic is that I am not commuting and therefore have more time for serious reflection on matters outside the pressing demands of work.
On Bosco, you are of course correct. All that I can do there has been done.
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“That is because, in the end, this place exists as a community, and whilst a community can have, and often does have, robust exchanges of views, it exists in an atmosphere of mutual respect.”
This is exactly what I needed to know. I’ve written comments on VirtueOnline, AnglicanInk, a couple of other sites. I am always respectful, I always remark, when a comment has been insightful or clever or added to my knowledge. Replies to my comments that I’m wrong, or imply – none too gently – that I’m an idiot doesn’t help anyone. If I’m an idiot, explain to me why. If I’ve misunderstood something, tell me how and I will research and consider. If I’ve asked ‘the wrong question’, tell me what the right question is.
I’m a big girl. I can take my bumps. But don’t insult me or my intelligence.
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