Deaf, blind and numb Christianity.
One hundred years ago the Great War began and Europe lost a generation of young men in a cause which few of us now can understand.
Today, in Europe, young people travel to Warsaw or Belgrade to mingle with other Europeans who delight in the diversity, the local foods and ales, ancient festivals and genuine friendship which each nation state offers. They are not interested in past ideological differences but relish the nourishment offered by such inter-communion between nations once at war.
October 17th, 2013.
On this day, in his homily, Pope Francis spoke very clearly about ideology. It came as a shock to many Christians, especially many Catholics and those who have turned to catholicism for its “guaranteed truth”.
He said, “The faith becomes ideology and ideology frightens, ideology chases away the people, distances, distances the people and distances the Church of the people..”*
The call to prayer.
Pope Francis always balances his comments with a constantly repeated call to prayer. In the same homily he asks,
“But why is it that a Christian can become like this? `[ ideological and moralistic] Just one thing: this Christian does not pray. And if there is no prayer, you always close the door.”*
Prayer opens our hearts
On a pilgrimage I have all day to pray and what everyone who prays a lot says is that prayer opens our hearts and God speaks to us in silence. That is also my own experience and, in this silence, all ideology, all anger and dispute, all inner resentment or fear is slowly worn away. Walking long distances helps me in this: the constant repetition of motions seems to bring into sharp focus just how wonderful it is to be in God’s hands, There is a point when everything falls away, all anxieties, pre-occupations and fears and I begin to see differently, my heart opens and all there is, is Love.
Blind, Deaf and numb Christianity.
Love is the most powerful source of energy and the greatest symbol Christians have for Love, for our God, is in the breaking of the bread, in our shared communion. So while walking it has kept coming back to me how important it is to let nothing come in the way of the last command and great desire of Jesus just before his execution that we “do this in memory of me.”
Communion is the corner stone which we have made into a stumbling block. It is by visiting each other and sharing the Lord’s meal with each other, in our diverse ways, that we will come close together in His Love. This is the means he has given us.
I pray that Christians can be naïve enough to start sharing communion without being tripped up by sectarian laws and inter-church biggotry or the disapproval of their priests or bishops or pastors. If secular Europe can achieve peace surely Christians, too, can remove their frontiers, which, in prayer, are seen to be nothing more than lines drawn temporarily in the sand. Ideologies which may once have served a purpose become no more than interesting junk or the flotsam and jetsam washed ashore by the waves.
*Text from page http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/10/17/pope_francis_at_mass_calls_for_greater_openness_/in2-738150
of the Vatican Radio website