The Battle of the Blessings: Just a Warm Up

Deacon Greg Kandra is an old-school newsman; his decades at CBS News has honed his ability to sniff out a story — particularly a human-interest story sure to tug at the heart strings or impart a universal lesson — that someone else (like me) would pass over with a sigh (if the story is sweet) or an eyeroll (if it is sour).

The deacon hates confrontations; if he had his druthers, he’d live on a straight path between Disney World and Rome — between innocence and glory — and never mind the rest. That said, however, in a few years of blogging he has developed a knack for finding stories guaranteed to get passions ignited, and the comboxes roiling.

Yesterday he did it again, by sharing a story about a priest who has decided that blessing children at communion is inappropriate

This is a story I saw and thought, “hmph, okay, that’s another way to think; mildly interesting”; I found the priest thoughtful, some of the responses thoughtful, but on the whole, this should not be a big issue, right? Not an issue of major doctrinal import, it’s something a parish should decide on individually.

I’ve seen priests make the sign of the cross on kid’s foreheads and wondered if that was a smart thing to do when they would then be dipping back into the ciborium to further dispense the Body, but really, I have no other feelings about it. Parents want everything, these days, particularly if it makes their child feel “special.” But on the other hand, it’s just a blessing; why be stingy with a blessing? Can we agree that there are valid points on both sides and move on, or must there be a battle, with victors and losers?

A naive question; this is the Catholic blogosphere. Deacon Greg had closed his comboxes for Holy Week, and on Easter Monday, he opened them back up, posted a story and cries of “Battle”! did issue forth.

Joanne K. McPortland, a fairly new revert to Catholicism and a good writer, having traipsed into those comboxes, felt like all of the warmth and sweetness of Holy Week had suddenly been doused with ice-water:

But today, getting back to the real world and the newly-reopened comboxes of Catholicism, I have a big case of the letdown blues. From being “so inflamed with heavenly desires” on Saturday night, it’s back to the combox flame wars today.

Mostly, that’s how it goes; one has a lovely retreat, gets back on the highway and very quickly starts muttering under the breath about the way people drive; the sweetness of the retreat is quickly lost, and one pulls into the driveway wondering, “why am I such a wretch.” It’s the old reminder that any grace we enjoy comes from a source Other than ourselves, and that we are forever in need of it.

Here’s the thing, though: spiritual warfare is real, and before we know it — perhaps sooner than we think — we are going to be called on to stand up for our faith in ways we could not have imagined twenty or thirty years ago, and to perhaps suffer for it; to endure separation from our loved ones, and other deprivations. Are we going to be ready for that? Will we be able to come together, at that time, or will we still be squabbling factions crying “hypocrite” toward each other for the failings common to us all, or “heresy” toward the ones who do not conform to a particular position that, in the end, is merely a day’s issue fluttering by?

Some believe that this 2012 elections are going to make a big difference to the nation, and to the future of believers — that if only “Obama loses” or “Anyone but Obama wins” America will soon enough find her footing; the march toward totalitarianism will abate, threats to personal and religious liberties will dissipate, and soon enough we’ll again be all about “baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet”.

I doubt it. The culture is spinning toward something different; narrative thrust moves forward, not backward; the government is peopled by “leaders” and “civil servants” who are looking out for themselves. That doesn’t mean we just throw up our hands and not vote, of course, or disengage from discourse, but it does mean we oughtn’t build up our expectations. I have zero faith in our secular leadership, present nor future. “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.” (Jeremiah 6:14)

I love my country but I do not believe she is eternal or that she is destined to last forever, because governments and nations do not. They go away. Paul’s letters are written to churches long gone, residing in nations also extinct. Things expire or evolve, and they do so at the will and the timing of an Eternity we cannot understand.

Our job, then, is to be ready. Not merely ready, but ready-in-love, like our Blessed Mother, even if — like Mary, the young betrothed in Nazareth or the stricken mother in Jerusalem — we do not understand it all, and would rather things be very different from the reality before our eyes.

Even if, for that matter, we have very strong opinions, on very many things, and endless platforms from which to express them.

Increasingly, I wonder: are the comboxes training us for clear-eyed battle, or are they distracting us and giving us a deluded sense of strength? Are we better off with or without them?

As to the Battle of the Blessings, perhaps we should consider imparting Communion and Confirmation at baptism, like our Orthodox brothers and sisters and then the issue goes away. Spiritual warfare, after all, does not begin when one is seven. But it does last and last.

And now, having contributed to the post-Easter dolors, I make amends with a little gift:

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • http://egregioustwaddle.blogspot.com/ Joanne K McPortland

    Thank you, Elizabeth. Clearly you took the better part yesterday, by easing out of Easter in prayer. And while I am probably closer to Deacon Greg’s heart-tugging than I am to your “This will not end well” sense of the future, I can think of no better (and no better-phrased) thing to aim for than to be “not merely ready, but ready-in-love” for whatever comes. It’s for that reason that I find our combox wars, and the divisions they symbolize, not just occasionally irritating but often scandalous; we are not merely fiddling, but throwing the fiddles at each other, while the world burns for need of what we might bring if we could be both loving and ready.

    [Joanne, you cracked me up. "This will not end well," is one of those phrases my kids grew to dread! But see, I do believe everything will end well, just as Good Friday turned into Easter. I just think getting to the glorious ending is going to be be rough. I just want to be ready! -admin]

  • http://victor-undergo.blogspot.ca/ Victor

    After reading a little of what Papa had to say about Easter, me, myself and i asked Good Old Dad, GOD what He could tell U>S (usual sinners) and the thoughts which came to mind could be put in a book but then who would want to read “IT” anyway so “I” will just say that as “ONE” of GOD’s victors, the angels will always be number “1″ in spiritual reality, kind of like a spiritual comedy cloud you might say. Deep Breath! :)

    Long story short Anchoress, “Fiat lux”.

    Keep UP the good words and works

    Peace

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    I really don’t understand the controversy over blessings. In the Orthodox church, priests, and bishops, are expected to bless pretty much constantly. They do it during the communion (for non-orthodox visitors), they do it upon request (approach the priest with your head bowed, right hand cupped over left) and they’re constantly expected to bless food, icons, crosses, people going on journeys, etc., etc., etc. And nothing bad has resulted from this, that I can see; no Beast of the Apocalypse, looming on the horizon, no fire and brimstone, dogs and cats living together, etc. When the Bishop visits, it’s actually considered good manners to ask him for a blessing.

    The clergy might want to consider what it would be like if the people no longer cared about blessings, or being blessed. As for “Culture of entitlement” I honestly don’t see a whole lot of it—at least, directed towards kids. As the Leonard Cohen song, “The Future” puts it—”We don’t like like children, anyhow!” Please, don’t take modern schools’ emphasis on “Self-esteem” as proof that we shower too much love and concern on children; the schools do it because actual teaching is difficult; much easier to just convince the kids they’re already okay—-and shuffle them on to the next grade level. A society that really over-protected, and coddled, kids wouldn’t have the high levels of child abuse that we do.

    And some of the culture of death’s attitude seems to be seeping into the churches, sadly. I remember getting the stink eye, from a “lovely” Catholic couple one Christmas morning, when I attended mass with my autistic son. I wonder what those two would say, if they ever learned that their attitude drove me—not just out of that particular church, but out of the Catholic Church in general?

    There really are worse things than being asked to give blessings. . .

  • leahlibresco

    I really really don’t intend to restart the blessing battle in your combox, Elizabeth, but I hope you won’t mind me sharing my anecdotal experience. I’ve been exploring Catholicism for two years and I have sometimes gone up to receive a blessing during Communion. For the most part, I could only approach Christianity intellectually (and I know you’re meant to do more) but it was hard to find ways to give the Church a chance. (Trying out prayer is pretty hopeless and incoherent when you don’t believe in God). If you’re a theist exploring Christianity, there are more ways to feel around and try out reaching for God, but not so much for me. Going up for a blessing was a way I could try to accept something generously given by the Church (which is really hard for me). I certainly don’t see it as a substitute for the Eucharist, but going up for a blessing and thinking “I want to believe what is true. If I’m wrong, let me be corrected” was the closest I could get to faith.

    Now, obviously, I don’t think the liturgy should be reshaped or warped to accommodate my weird foibles. If it’s proscribed, I really regret offending. As it is, I tend to play it by ear at different parishes. It would be easiest if churches just disclosed their preferences in the worship leaflets, as I’ve seen some Episcopal churches do.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Of course, as Elizabeth points out, the Orthodox do allow young kids to take communion, so that eliminates some of the problem, right there.

    Since Orthodox services are closed communion, if the priest doesn’t recognize you, or if he knows you’re not Orthodox he’ll bless you, rather than giving you communion. Sometimes, such as holidays like Easter, or Christmas, there are a lot of guests, so he performs a lot of blessings—but, still, this just isn’t a big problem, and is a nice way of welcoming the non-Orthodox to the church.

  • Pingback: The Battle of the Blessings: Just a Warm Up « The Anchoress « From The Pews

  • http://egregioustwaddle.blogspot.com/ Joanne K McPortland

    Orthodox Christian practice and leahlibresco’s anecdote (which moves me greatly) are additional reasons, to my mind, why we need to be clear, patient, and kind in discussing (which involves not just stating, but also listening) variances of practice within our own Church. With something like the blessing of children and non-receivers, the motivation of the priest is not necessarily a spirit of rebellion against the liturgical norm, and the motivation of those seeking blessing is not necessarily spoiled entitlement or disrespect for the Eucharist, though of course it can be the motivation in either case. When we assume and generalize in any direction, that’s when we fall into the kind of uncharity that DOES have the potential to harm our relationship with God as the Body of Christ—and that keeps us from focusing on the need to be “ready-in-love” for the real tests of faith we will face.

  • http://wordonfire.org father steve

    Given the daily demands of discipleship and the sense of uncertainty that seems to shadow the Church in its relationship to the culture it is easy to lose oneself in the small stuff. This issue is really not the most pressing issue that the Church faces, but people care about it and it generates strong feelings. Why? One perspective might be that it is because more of the clergy currently being ordained are less apt to see themselves in a position to make modifications to the Church’s rites and this aversion is in contra-distinction to a generation of clerics who embraced modifications of the Church’s rites as a kind of ethos. This difference in approach is jarring to many and becomes an occasion to choose sides let small things become a flashpoint that illuminates the difference in approach. There are very good reasons to be cautious about introducing changes to the manner in which the Church worships. Small things can become incredibly divisive, the great historical precursor of which are the sad divisions that afflict the Catholic Church and Orthodox churches (which if you read the anathema’s that were hurled over the centuries had as much to do with seemingly small matters, like whether priests should wear beards, as they did about greater things like the filioque). I understand the wisdom of letting the Church’s rites be what they are and free of tampering by anyone- priests or laity. There is just too much at stake and the Church can become so easily distracted from the mission at hand. Also, the fact that feelings are so strong about this matter indicates to me that the practice has gained a level of ultimacy that it does not deserve. Since a individual blessing give at Communion is not formally a part of the Church’s rites, and there is no equivalence between such a blessing and the Eucharist, no one should be making whether or not one receives such a blessing (or whether or not a priest imparts it) a matter by which the Faith stands or falls.

  • Jenny

    I have very mixed feelings over the blessings at communion. I generally believe it is the priest’s prerogative whether or not he gives blessings at Communion time. I know technically it shouldn’t be done, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the hill I want to die on. I really don’t like the EMHC giving out blessings. Is there a point to that beyond the warm fuzzies?

    A few of my personal observations:
    1) It does distract from Communion when I’m holding a baby and my attention is diverted for his blessing.
    2) It is so sweet to see young children blessed by a priest.
    3) One of my daughters does not like to be touched by strangers. Please don’t try to chase her down. Some female EMHCs are especially bad about this.
    4) If you aren’t the priest, don’t expect me to wait while you touch all my children on the head. I am not.
    5) If someone approaches the priest for a blessing, I have no real problem with it.
    6) My non-Catholic father has attended Mass with my mother for my entire life. He never approached until a couple of years ago when the priest at their parish instructed all non-receivers to approach for a blessing. They even had a practice session instead of a homily one day. So now he joins the Communion line so a EMHC can waive her hands over his head. Ugh. (They never sit where the priest distributes so, yes, it is always an EMHC.) (Don’t ask why he hasn’t converted; it’s complicated)

  • fiestamom

    I think I said something that mildly offended on Deacon Greg’s box, and I regret saying it, and that it offended people. I am going to sincerely try to be more thoughtful in my comments on Catholic blogs.
    But I plan to continue speaking truth to power on “news” blogs. If I read a story, and I detect liberal bias, (which I swear, is every single story), I plan on pointing out (with charity) the liberal bias of the writer/article.

  • Romulus

    I know technically it shouldn’t be done, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the hill I want to die on.

    Agree completely.

    I really don’t like the EMHC giving out blessings. Is there a point to that beyond the warm fuzzies?

    Yes — clericalism. Because many lay ministers have picked up the false idea that they can or should be doing priestly things, and many of them enjoy doing so. In truth, lay ministers are never authorized to give blessings in a liturgical context. Not being in holy orders, they have no blessing to give in the name of the Church. Privately and in their own name, they may bless their children or others over whom they’ve been placed in a sub-parental role of authority. Or if they are living saints, manifest vessels of grace and distinguished by personal merit and holiness (personally, I don’t qualify for this category, and have no children and am not ordained — so I don’t bless others and don’t seek blessings from others in my state of life).

  • Mandy P.

    I love the picture at the end, Elizabeth! It’s so sweet and it reminds me of my own kids (5 and 2) and the totally innocent manner in which they approach the Lord. And I can’t help but think how pleasing it is to Him that they’re there, even if they aren’t perfectly still or totally silent.

  • Bender

    Let’s look at what actually happens at Mass –

    A parent with a young child, or an adult with arms crossed, go up while others are receiving Communion in order to receive a blessing. The blessed child and/or blessed adult go and sit down. The priest then says, “let us pray” and he says a prayer.

    And then immediately thereafter, the priest says, “May almighty God bless you, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit.” or the priest may say, “Bow down for the blessing.” Then after giving various invocations, the priest says, “May the blessing of almighty God, the Father, and the Son, + and the Holy Spirit, come down on you and remain with you forever.”

    Those not receiving Communion ALREADY GET A BLESSING and they get that blessing immediately adjacent to Communion.

    What really is the reasoning behind getting TWO blessings, one immediately after the other?

    And what is this mindset that falsely accuses priests and others of being cold-hearted and not wanting to give blessings when, in fact, blessings are given?

    And, as I said in the other combox — PLEASE do not put an EMHC in an untenable position by approaching him or her arms-crossed for a blessing. We do not have the charism or power to give a liturgical blessing; all we can do is give the same kind of blessing that you might receive from an usher or the person next to you. And as lay persons, it is inappropriate for us to give the false impression that we can give a liturgical blessing. Conversely, during distribution of Communion is neither the time nor the place for an EMHC to try to explain this to people and perhaps provoke an argument. If Father wants to give you one, that is up to him, but it is beyond the purview of an EMHC.

  • Esther

    I don’t think the deeper issue is priests giving blessings. It’s EMHC’s giving blessings. I have no problem receiving Communion from an EMHC but find myself instinctively averse to an EMHC reaching down to bless my kid. Weird – since parents are called to bless their children, right? but something about it strikes me as not right – well, it’s not right because they’re not supposed to do it..I know.

    But that’s the reason it’s a problem.

  • Lawrence Cunningham

    As an EMHC at our university basilica I was most interested in the discussion over at the Deacon’s Bench and thus turned to you since you posted a comment, dear Anchoress, to see what the commentators here would have to say. Some of the comments are quite interesting, a few are predictable, and only a sliver are – how put this charitably – somewhat rigid. What most impressed me, however, was how you, with what Pascal once called ‘l’esprit de la finesse’, managed to mentioned President Obama in your post.

  • Susan

    No thoughts on blessings here. Just wanted to say that the little gift at the end of your post is absolutely precious and I’m going to try to carry it around in my mind all day long. What a beautiful photo! Thanks.

  • Mark Greta

    In view of all that is going on in the world and within the Catholic Church, I think the issue of giving a young child a blessing as they come up with parents receiving the Eucharist is way down the list. However, if it is part of a general clean up of all the various forms of abuse and dissent in all the parishes, I will go along with it gladly.

    I do believe that the Anchoress is correct that we are indeed in for some very bad times both as Catholics and as Americans. While Obama and his party getting strongly defeated this fall will not end all the problems in this country, it certainly at least points it in the right direction. It would offer hope that justices could be put on the court to bring us in line with the actual constitution and it would stop the trashing of the constitution that a second Obama term would ramp up even more.

    As to the tenor of the comboxes, they simply reflect the huge differences between Catholics who hold a strong belief in the authentic teaching of the Catholic Church and those who shelve Catholic teaching and place their strong support behind a godless secular state religion. Having this forced into politics only makes it worse which is what happened when the wall of separation around the government was removed and placed around religion. If only the judges long ago had said government has no right to interfer in any way with religious beliefs and is prohibited from establishing a secular godless state religion much of what followed would have been avoided. If they had ruled that the government has no right to allow the killing of infants or special rights for gay behavior because all our rights come from our Creator, we could have continued as a country under God rather than under a godless state with unlimited power over every aspect of our rights. Our comboxes would look very different. Those if favor of the killing of babies in the womb could have been making their arguments supporting this to try to convince us of the need for a constitutional amendment as needed to give women the right to vote. Anger always comes when we believe we live in a democracy and see judges find words in thin air to create legislation by fiat. The same thing happens when one party decides to create a new right as with Obamacare and forces it down our throats. We get mad and that is a good thing.

  • kt

    “I love my country but I do not believe she is eternal or that she is destined to last forever, because governments and nations do not.” Do you believe that the rights endowed by our Creator are eternal? If so, then our government system, animated by those rights and expressly identifying itself as such, is not like that of any other country. But if you and others use Christianity and/or Catholicism as an excuse to behave as if our God-given rights are no more or less important than the rights enshrined in any other nation’s constitution — i.e. “all governments suck, maaaannn” — then you’re right: it won’t last. But that will be because citizens failed, not the government system as founded.

    [I don't believe "all government suck, maaaaannn," but I do believe citizens will ultimately fail, as the culture continues its trends. And I trust that in the end, God's hand is in all of it, so everything ends up well. We are exiles, even in America. -admin]

  • Bender

    The issue of receiving a blessing during Communion may be way down the list of priorities. But the issue of Catholics understanding the Faith and why the Church does what she does should be pretty close to the top of the list.

    Ours is a faith that seeks understanding, and one of the reasons that we have so many MAJOR problems, both within the Church and in the outside world, is the great extent to which there is MISunderstanding about the Church and the Faith.

    Why should blessings not be given out during Communion? Well why not approach and seek a blessing during someone’s baptism? Or when a couple is saying their wedding vows, why not have someone come up for a blessing? After all, we shouldn’t have people feel left out, should we?

    The reason we do not give out blessings during baptism or weddings or during the commendation at a funeral or during Communion is because there is a time and place for everything.

    And when Holy Communion is being distributed, that is a time for Holy Communion. And to the extent that someone is going up seeking a blessing, he is not focused on the Eucharist, he is not engaged in an act of spiritual communion with the Lord and with the faithful who are receiving His Body.

    A large problem we have in the Church is people not understanding why we do what we do. They take the imagery of the sheep a bit too far. In this case, never bothering to ask, “What is the Church doing now during the Mass? Why do I need a blessing now when I will get one in just a few minutes?”

    This is important because knowing and understanding what we do, why we do it, when we do it, and who does it is important.
    _________________________

    By the way, remaining conspicuously in one’s seat should not even enter into this discussion. I’ve been to plenty of non-English Masses (usually Spanish) where you have to climb over people to get out of the pew because they do not go up. If they don’t stigmatize or judge, there is no reason that the English-speaking faction needs to.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Meanwhile, Nigerian Christians were murdered over Easter, in a car bomb attack, and Filipino Christians are menaced by militant Islamic factions.

    Considering the perilous times we live in, maybe we should be encouraging priests to bless everybody, whenever, wherever.

  • midwestlady

    It’s inappropriate as a blessing qua blessing, but we shouldn’t fight over it.

    About half the time I don’t think people do it to get a real blessing; I think they do it so they don’t have to leave the toddler alone in the pew while they process up, and that’s a good reason.

  • kt

    “We are exiles, even in America”? “Citizens will ultimately fail”? Wow. This sort of fatalism is a sin, and to use religion as an excuse for it compounds the sin. It’s an excuse for sloth and resignation. It also does a grave disservice to those who do put their lives on the line for our measly life in “exile”. what chumps, eh?

  • kt

    Maybe you should re-examine world history of the last 100 years, and ask yourself what kind of “exile” we would be in if it weren’t for people (aka heretic “ameridolators”?) fighting and dying for American principles.

  • Susan Lee

    Well, on the subject of blessings – I have a baby brother with Downs Syndrome. He is in his late 40′s, lives with my Sister who is not a church goer. I was getting exercised by his inability to receive the Sacraments, thinking it could affect his Salvation. We went to see our Priest before Christmas, to ask what would be appropriate, asnd he said my Bro is already in a State of Grace (made me cry with relief!) but if he wants to come up for a blessing he can. As my DH and I were receiving, we HAD to take my bro up with us, and he was pleased to be getting attention from the Priest equal to that my DH and I received. He doesn’t know any better… I’m grateful that the priests are so careing. As to the transmittal of germs during Holy Communion, my Mom always said we are in God’s hands especially at the Eucharist. …Works for me!!

    Susan Lee

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Susan, is your brother’s inability to receive the sacraments due to the fact that he isn’t being taken to church by your sister, or is it because he’s disallowed to participate, because he has Downs Syndrome?

  • Pingback: Blessings of children « The Catechesis of Caroline

  • Bender

    Having Down Syndrome (or any other cognitive/mental limitation, disability, impairment, etc.) is not ipso facto grounds for denial of Holy Communion.* Rather, there needs to be a case-by-case, particularized assessment of the person involved. It is enough that the person can understand the mystery of Christ according to his capacity, that is, that the Host is not merely a piece of ordinary food, but is the Body of Christ, and that he is able to receive the Body of Christ with faith and devotion.

    Some may be able to form the requisite basic understanding after sufficient preparation, with catechesis modified toward that person, and some may not. But it is not an automatic call.

    And even if the person does not have that basic understanding now, that does not mean that he cannot learn and gain it later — that is, the decision to deny the Eucharist is never a “no,” it is always at most a “not right now.”

    Even for a person in his late 40s, it is not too late for a First Communion. And, if after instruction and preparation the pastor takes an adamant position against, patiently and humbly approach the bishop and ask him for assistance in helping him to be able to receive. (All of this is with the assumption that such a person has been baptized — there should be no reason not to admit him to that.)

    See, e.g. Guidelines for Diocese of Richmond
    and Guidelines for Archdiocese of Baltimore
    ______________
    * We should also be careful to avoid the error, if not sin, of presumption, of assuming that such person is automatically and forever in a perfect state of grace, incapable of knowing right from wrong and thus incapable of doing wrong. We do the person no favors to presume that, but should instead seek God’s forgiveness and mercy for them as well.

  • Corita

    I was taught long ago that if you wanted to, you could go up for a blessing at Communion with arms crossed. I taught my children to go up in the line with me with arms crossed — in particular if they are *close* to Communion age but have not yet received, thus avoiding the whole questioning-and-head-shaking at he front of the line.

    Where did the “arms crossed” practice come from, and am I doing it wrong?

  • Kozaburo

    It’s not just Orthodox Christians. Many **Catholics of Eastern Rites** also receive communion at baptism (also Holy Myron) and throughout their youth. Only Roman Catholic priests deny children the Eucharist. And even then, it’s not *all* Roman Catholic priests. Some have been very accommodating with my daughter, who is not yet 2 but who made her sacraments at baptism.

    Priests: If you’re going to get pissy about these things, start with the fact that more than half of your congregation never even had “Confirmation” because their folks pulled them out of the CCD simony racket before they could make their “Catholic bar mitzvah”.

  • Peggy m

    Kt, I think the description of us as “exiles” is religious imagery. it is another way of saying we are “the pilgrim church on earth”, or that we are “strangers in a strange land”. Our proper home (and our destination) is with God. This does not automatically imply hatred of our temporal home. It does tell us where our hope and trust naturally resides, though.

    in that vein, I also find it useful to remember not to put my faith in princes.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    As the parent of an autistic child, I sometimes think that autism/brain damage/mental retardation are punishments enough, and stuggle enough and penance enough, without picking and poking and and prodding; “Hmmm, is this person in a state of grace, or not in a state of grace?” (And how is the bishop, or the local pastor, supposed to know? At the end of the day, they’re just people, like the rest of us; they don’t possess magic goggles that can see into the human soul—especially one that has trouble expressing itself verbally.) Catholics certainly are into process, aren’t they?

    But, that’s just me. I think we need a theology of the disabled—something that goes beyond, “Ahh, the poor things! Let us pity, and look down on them! (or dislike them, as that Catholic couple in that one church I mention earlier, did.) But, again, that’s just me.

    Kozaburo, yes; if the church makes kids feel uncomfortable, it can’t expect them to rush back and fill the pews when they’re teenagers, and college age, and their parents can no longer force them to go to mass on Sunday.

  • http://www.ironiccatholic.com Ironic Catholic

    Yes, I’m this close to giving up the RC blogs. I’m honestly not sure they spread any light anymore.

  • http://abbey-roads.blogspot.com/ terry nelson

    I like this:

    “Here’s the thing, though: spiritual warfare is real, and before we know it — perhaps sooner than we think — we are going to be called on to stand up for our faith in ways we could not have imagined twenty or thirty years ago, and to perhaps suffer for it; to endure separation from our loved ones, and other deprivations. Are we going to be ready for that? Will we be able to come together, at that time, or will we still be squabbling factions crying “hypocrite” toward each other for the failings common to us all, or “heresy” toward the ones who do not conform to a particular position that, in the end, is merely a day’s issue fluttering by?”


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