Sunday, May 8, 2016

Our Catholic Spring

The other day, I was part of a discussion about what qualities we need to possess in order to continues to call ourselves Catholic. The emphasis on “how” rather than “what we do” was instrumental in guiding the conversations.

The church is in a bit of a “Catholic Spring” where the Spirit is revitalizing and infusing a spirit-filled fresh air to our Church. Pope Francis re-emphasized the spirit of welcoming mercy and forgiveness personified by Jesus. This means that we have to respect and honor the traditions of the past, but also be ready to adapt these traditions to meet our unique needs. We are forming civic and religious leaders for a world that is not entirely our own. Are we presenting one another our virtue of clever, pragmatic adaptability with the goal of improving the common good?

Our local parishes are mostly safe venues to experiment with our ingenuity. We do not leave behind traditions for the sake of the new, but we bring them forward in new ways because the work comes from prayerful discernment of what is best for the particular community of faith. The church is learning that a one-size-fits-all or a cookie-cutter approach does not work in our contemporary church. The church needs us to re-imagine church as community of faith.

The Year of Mercy and “The Joy of Love” are designed to help us reform our attitudes, which lead to our spirit-informed actions. It means we have to look at our behavior.

  • Are we kind to one another when we do not feel like being kind? Are we known for our kindness? The Lord asks that we learn from him and be kind and merciful.
  • Are we as kind to our colleagues as we are to the pastor, bosses, visitors, vendors, and parents? Do we treat everyone like we treat our benefactors? Do we greet everyone as “friends in the Lord,” – an Ignatian hallmark?
  • Do we teach life’s lessons with mercy? When we make an administrative decision, do we scold or pressure, or do we teach about the new standards with a heightened sense of mercy and care for the soul in front of us?
  • Does our half portion of conversation and dialogue convey respect for the other person(s.)?
  • Do we hold judgments upon others and act out of them? Do we really understand what another person is experiencing?

We can ask ourselves many questions, but our fundamental challenge is to align our attitudes and values with the ones espoused in the Year of Mercy and “The Joy of love.” The way we are is more important than what we do. As we relearn what it means to be Catholic, our continual movement towards a deepening love for the other will answer that question.