Wednesday, November 12, 2014
Fine Linen, Glist'ning and Pure
The Church describes herself as a Bride. The Bride of Christ, no less! She is traditionally referred to as our Mother. These are very personal, even intimate terms. Even as the Barque of Peter the sense is not so much of a curious boat to be examined for holes as lifesaving refuge from perilous seas.
We can get caught up in personalities and controversies and labeling others to distinguish ourselves from people we don't particularly like. (But of course we have good reasons not to like them!)
What we think others will think about what the Pope said becomes more important than what he said. We're more concerned with who's in and who's out than making sure we're in, and bringing as many people with us as we can. The Bear does not exempt himself. In this he can truly apply 1 Timothy 1:15, "Christ Jesus came into this world to save sinners, of whom I am the chief."
What if we treated our own mothers like we treat the Church? The old girl's not quite what she used to be. Sometimes she forgets a word in mid-sentence, and need I mention her personal hygiene? And look at those wrinkles and sags! When she does manage a coherent statement, it's usually off the wall. And her singing! A cat being flayed by cackling geese would sound better!
What if we treated our own wives the same way? You know, my wife has really gained weight lately. Her age is showing. Half the time I just ignore what she's saying. I've checked out this website called Cherry Blossom Brides. Now they promise a real wife in the traditional mold!
Getting back to the Church, it doesn't mean we have to turn off our brains, or that there are not real problems. But the Bear has been sensitized lately as to just how often the Bible (and the Rule of St. Benedict) condemns too much talk, especially of a negative cast. An example is Ephesians 4:29: "Let no evil speech proceed from your mouth; but that which is good, to the edification of faith, that it may administer grace to the hearers."
Let's proceed calmly, and with love, and not be on a wartime footing all the time. The Bear is not saying everything is fine -- it obviously isn't -- but he's also wondering if the Devil's real plan isn't to get inside our heads and choke off our hearts even as we do everything accurately, and with the best intentions. If we're starting to look at the Church as an object of criticism, and proceeding from anger, then the Bear must wonder if we are pleasing God.
The Revelation Canticle from Sunday's Second Vespers in our Liturgy of the Hours for Benedictine Oblates reminds us of something wonderful:
The marriage of the Lamb has come,
And his bride has made herself ready.
She has been given for her clothing
Fine linen, glist'ning and pure.
The funny thing about the Divine Office is that you say it every day and think you're not getting anything out of it, then all of a sudden a little green sprout pops up.
As we follow, and, yes, comment on, this tempestuous papacy, please, let's not lose sight of the lovely bride, the loving mother. That human-divine loveable element is the hinge upon which our lives turn and the doors of heaven open for us.
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