Thinking Catholic thoughts


It can be argued that today in 1564, when the Council of Trent published its conclusions, the Roman Catholic Church found its counter reformation stance and took on the basic forms and theological stances we recognize as that church today. There wouldn’t be another general council for some three hundred years, when they would tidy up some loose ends by proclaiming the pope’s infallibility when speaking ex cathedra..

When I was a child I was told Catholics weren’t actually Christians, just Christian-like pagans. Perhaps that’s why I always kind of liked them. (And I should pause and admit among the Catholic family of churches, I in fact prefer the Anglican variation having all the pageantry, but with something less than half the guilt…)

While they, or at least their hierarchy have been overwhelmed of late with an obsessive espousing and inflicting of a literally medieval understandings of human sexuality, and with that advocating terrible things about women and women’s rights and along with that the place of non-heterosexual peoples in culture, I think of its antiquity and its size and realize this strange and terrible, and beautiful religion is much bigger than any moment in its history.

Popes and councils come and go.

And the people continue in their now Christian now pagan ways

looking for the heart of the matter.

And from time to time shaking things up. Protestants. Anglicans. Unitarians. Humanists. All heirs…

While I’m more interested in the religion of Jesus than that one about him, and all this from a rational and Buddhistic perspective, still, one has to admit, this closer to the ground Catholicism with all its nonrational and intuitive has staying power.

Like in that wonderful Graham Greene novel, while the world does its strange thing, and even the hierarchs abandon the people while canonizing plaster saints to distract the unwary, there are still those wounded drunks and criminals dressed in priestly garb, all the while planning their own escape, but never quite leaving and instead sneaking around and putting God into people’s mouths…

That church and its pagan Jesus and its healing message I suspect may hang around for another millennia or two.

Now, I started looking around for a picture of communion, which I consider one of the great gifts of the Catholic church and up popped a picture of a communion service at First Unitarian with me presiding. It must be from a while ago as it has my hair darker and longer than it is today.

And it sets me to thinking…

I am theologically a liberal Buddhist, and yet there I am, in addition to all else, heir to a stream of stories held first and for longest within the Catholic tradition, celebrating a service that has all the principal markers of what would happen at a Catholic service today…

Here the religion of and the religion about become one thing, something genuinely catholic, universal, open to theist and atheist, to all of good will

who see connections

and celebrate them when seen…

a story worth repeating

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