Friday, April 02, 2004

Life: The Most Basic and Fundamental Right
Above all, the common outcry, which is justly made on behalf of human rights -- for example, the right to health, to home, to work, to family, to culture -- is false and illusory if the right to life, the most basic and fundamental right and the condition for all other personal rights, is not defended with maximum determination.

- Pope John Paul II,
On the Vocation of the Lay Faithful (Christifideles Laici), 1988

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

Original Innocence

I went to confession last weekend and said my act of contrition in the lingua ecclesiae, Latin, only to have Father C., of his own volition, give me absolution also in Latin: Ego te absolvo ab omnibus peccatis tuis in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. That's the second time in my life I've received absolution in Latin - it's so cool! Yes, I took a risk at seeming extremely pretentious, but it seemed so natural to me - Latin has become so much a part of my spiritual life.

But let me reflect... How long it has been.... since I walked in to my first RCIA Inquiry class - 16 years old - the only boy among seven girls in our high school group. I was so intimidated. I really wanted to leave, and each week I had to make the decision to keep going. That was almost ten years ago. Back then, and even when I entered the Church almost seven years ago this Easter, I was very naive about the Church. That's not to say that I was wrong about what the Spirit was doing in my life then, or that I was wrong in believing what the Church taught, or that I was wrong about trusting that the Spirit led the Church. Rather, I was completely clueless as to how individuals within the broader Church actually lived out the Catholic Faith. I was naive about all the liturgical wars going on. I was naive about the fact that many Catholics disagreed with the Church on just about every conceivable thing, from the most trivial things to the most serious things. During this time I was fortunate to have many Catholic friends and teachers at the Catholic high school I went to for two years. I credit these friends with introducing me to the Church by living their lives as Catholics, by being willing to answer my questions, by inviting me to attend Mass with them, and by teaching me in ways that I could better understand. I discerned the Spirit working in their lives. But the Church, I would soon find out, was so much bigger than what they could have expressed to me with their words or actions.

Sometimes I wish I could go back to my state of mind when I entered the Church. My conversion was completely led by the Spirit. Nobody argued me into joining; I was never anybody's target for proselytization. I never felt obligated to any individual, save Christ Himself, to become Catholic. Rather, the Spirit led me quietly to behold a great mystery, and I, at times nervous, confused, yet curious, trusted Him all the way through.

I didn't know much about the liturgy back then. Mass was mass, and I found it utterly and completely beautiful because I knew enough to know what it was and what it meant. Sometimes we'd get a good priest, sometimes a not so good priest. Sometimes we'd have beautiful, uplifting music, and sometimes we'd have trite, tacky music. Sometimes the externals even discouraged us from focusing on the Most Glorious Act that was being made present on the altar, but the Act was there, nonetheless. It is Christ who accomplishes the Act. It is a mystical reflection of the very Church. The victory of Christ over and in spite of the sinful failings of individual human members. I struggle more now with seeing that reflection. I was pretty innocent. I am more mature now, by God's grace (deo gratias!). However, I succumb to the same vices as most other Catholics. But I long still for that innocence. I am reminded of the scene in Zeffirelli's Brother Sun, Sister Moon, where Pope Innocent III, played by Alec Guinness, tells a nervous but eager Francis of Assisi, In our obsession with original sin, we too often forget original innocence. He was right.


Related Posts with Thumbnails