|Don't forget the 'Gift of Updating the Church for the Modern Age'|
My comments, in blue.
'"Who are we to close the doors" to the Holy Spirit? This was the question that Pope Francis repeated this morning during his homily at Mass at Casa Santa Marta, a homily dedicated to the conversion of the first pagans to Christianity. St Peter and the Apostles did not believe converting people was solemn nonsense, then. The Holy Spirit, he reiterated, is what makes the Church to go "beyond the limits, go ever forward". The limits of what, forward where?
The Spirit blows where it wills, but one of the most common temptations of those who have faith is to bar its path and drive it in one direction or another. Quite. And, for instance, the Latin Mass was never formally abrogated. A temptation that was not alien even in the early days of the Church, as the experience of Simon Peter in today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles shows.
A community of pagans welcomes the announcement of the Gospel and Peter is an eyewitness to the descent of the Holy Spirit on them. First hesitates to make contact with what he had always considered "unclean " and then he suffers harsh criticism from the Christians of Jerusalem, shocked by the fact that their leader had eaten with the "uncircumcised" and had even baptized them. A moment of internal crisis that Pope Francis recalls with a hint of irony:
I would like my Baptism in the pre-concilliar rite of the Church
"That was unthinkable. If – for example - tomorrow an expedition of Martians came, and some of them came to us, here ... Martians, right? Green , with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them... And one says, 'But I want to be baptized!' What would happen?" Pagans are like Martians? Still, is it not possible the Martians would seek Baptism in the old rite?
Peter understands his error when a vision enlightens him to a fundamental truth: that which has been purified by God cannot be called "profane" by anyone. And in narrating these facts to the crowd that criticized him, the Apostle, calms them all with this statement: "If then God gave them the same gift he gave to us when we came to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to be able to hinder God?"
Rent an usher: A new role for Kasper?
"When the Lord shows us the way, who are we to say, 'No, Lord, it is not prudent! No, lets do it this way' ... and Peter in that first diocese - the first diocese was Antioch - makes this decision: ‘Who am I to admit impediments?' A nice word for bishops, for priests and for Christians . Who are we to close doors? In the early Church, even today, there is the ministry of the ostiary [usher]. And what did the ostiary do? He opened the door, received the people, allowed them to pass. But it was never the ministry of the closed door, never" If a Satanist comes to the door and asks for a consecrated host to desecrate, do you close the door?
|St John XXIII: Note the updated papal garb|
Again Pope Francis repeated, God has left the guidance of the Church "in the hands of the Holy Spirit". "The Holy Spirit - he continued - as Jesus said, will teach us everything" and "remind us what Jesus taught us". Fine, but why do I get the feeling the 'Holy Spirit' is to teach us something new, different to what Jesus taught us?
"The Holy Spirit is the living presence of God in the Church. He keeps the Church going, keeps the Church moving forward. More and more, beyond the limits, onwards. Those 'limits' again. The Holy Spirit with his gifts guides the Church . You cannot understand the Church of Jesus without this Paraclete, whom the Lord sends us for this very reason. And he makes unthinkable choices, but unimaginable! The unthinkable on our terms, or the unthinkable on God's terms? To use a word of St. John XXIII: it is the Holy Spirit that updates the Church: Really, he really updates it and keeps it going. And we Christians must ask the Lord for the grace of docility to the Holy Spirit. There is surely some distinction to be made between docility to the Holy Spirit and docility to human whim. Docility in this Spirit, who speaks to us in our heart (and Who has spoken through the Church), who speaks to us in all of life’s circumstances, who speaks to us in the Church's life, in Christian communities, who is always speaking to us”.'
And the Spirit of God has indeed spoken, so many times that one loses count, especially through Scripture and Tradition upheld by Popes. Is the Holy Father possibly hinting at something? Perhaps I'm just a bit 'edgy' but it suffices to say that the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity has never, does never and will never contradict the Second Person of the Trinity, nor the Second the First or Third. There is a Unity to the Trinity of which we can only dream.
I am also reminded of the words of the Holy Father that in terms of female ordination: 'That door is closed'. Just how 'unthinkable' or 'unimaginable' is the 'open door policy' of the Holy Ghost? The 'God of surprises' often surprises us, but He is Unchanging. He is not out to confuse or upend the Church. Are you thinking what I'm thinking? I know I am reading between the lines but I can't help but feel like I'm being 'prepped' for something...
At first we thought it was schismatics knocking at the door asking for women's ordination, an end to priestly celibacy and a radical alteration of Church doctrine, particularly in matters sexual, but wait, could it possibly be the Holy Spirit, God Himself, speaking through the heretics?
Let's not stand in the way of the Holy Spirit...or trouble, trouble, trouble for the Earthlings.