Thursday, 26 September 2013

Into Great Silence

Having already made a dramatic impression on the life of the Franciscans of the Immaculate, one has to ask whether it is all part of some strange Jesuit plot?

Not everyone is called to 'go out to the peripheries'. Some are called to be simply faithful husbands and wives, devoted to family, others to the contemplative life, others to the active life. I have been out to the peripheries and have now learned not to let the peripheries know where you live. I wouldn't wish that on a family!

To me, the time I have with Jesus is precious. It really is not that much time I spend with Him. I wish I could spend more time with Jesus than I do. I appreciate the opportunity to spend an hour with the Lord at Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament.

Thankfully, it is quiet there in the Church. That hour is more valuable than any active service I may do for those who I see in the 'real world'. Of course, it is the 'real world' that messed them up and where nobody showed them the love of Jesus.

Frankly, if you don't spend time with Jesus in quiet, in prayer, your service to those in whom you serve Jesus will be poor. Prayer and works go hand in hand. Works without prayer will be fruitless. Without peace and quiet, it is difficult to pray. Thankfully, the Holy Father went on:

'While reading the catechism is necessary, it’s not enough, he said. “It’s necessary to know Jesus in dialogue with him, talking with him, in prayer, on your knees. If you don’t pray, if you don’t talk with Jesus, you don’t know him.”'

St Francis: Enjoyed periods of peace and quiet
But we need peace and quiet to pray! Also, what about finding Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament? What about finding Jesus in the Gospels (Dei Verbum, anybody?), or in the works of the Saints that you may find in a library? What about the Dominican's study and prayerful meditation, the fruit of which is preaching? What about finding Jesus in the Sacrament of Penance?

Please, Holy Father, Your Holiness, do not present us with a reductionist, one-dimensional vision of the Christian life and mission. There are a variety of gifts to the Church, of which the service of the poor is but one. St Francis of Assisi received the stigmata while in ecstatic prayer in a peaceful and quiet location in La Verna.

I know that people will say, 'Laurence, you're taking the Holy Father's words out of their context' or 'Laurence, you're misinterpreting what he is saying' but maybe if the Holy Father were to say less things 'off the cuff' old grumps like me would be less grumpy. We have a duty to love the Holy Father, but surely the Holy Father has a duty to teach us the fullness of the Faith, not one aspect in isolation, divorced from the rest. Jesus can be found and served in the poor in the real world. He can also be found in every tabernacle in every Catholic Church in every Diocese around the World until the End of Time. It is notable that at this time belief in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Eucharist is at an ebb. It is also noteworthy that while His Holiness has described the poor as the 'flesh' of Jesus, He has said not a great deal at all about the Lord's Flesh and Blood in the Most Holy Eucharist.

'You won't find Jesus there mate!'
Please, Holy Father, teach us to love Jesus in the poor and neglected, but also too in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Altar, for He is our Life, our Heavenly Food, our Salvation. Did not St Peter say, 'Lord, increase our Faith'!?

Teach us, also, to pray, so that in a world so full of enticing illusions, we find our true Reality in Him.

I'm getting more than a bit narked off with writing not completely supportive posts about the Holy Father. I'm considering going 'into great silence' myself for a while. The fact that His Holiness said you won't find Jesus in a library when that's probably where Pope Emeritus Benedict is right now is a little 'insensitive'.  Grrrrr!!!


Long-Skirts said...

Somebody needs to Mirandize the Pope!!

"You have the right to remain silent; anything you say can and will be used against you..."

Supertradmum said...

Thank you for this. I write about the need for silence and reflection a nauseum on my blog. The monastic life is the most perfect form of life for the pursuit of holiness. We lay people need to be encouraged to incorporate, as much as possible, such in our lived. As St. Catherine of Siena wrote, (Doctor of the Church), "Build a cell inside your mind, from which you can never flee."

gracem said...

geez, i really wish he would stop talking!

Wake up England said...

it certainly goes a long way to explain his coolness to the Old Mass: far too calm

Patricius said...

How long before he runs out of these bon mots?

Christopher said...

This is, yet again, an instance of Papa Francesco saying two pretty much incompatible things in the space of one short homily - I don't know about anyone else, but I can't read and study the Catholic faith, or pray and speak to Jesus, without making time and space to do so. The Holy Father's mind is like a haystack in a whirlwind, it seems.

And, quite apart from anything else, the Lord himself often withdrew to the places of peace and quiet to pray and speak to the Father: I will try to follow His example, before worrying about what the Pope says in an off-the-cuff homily!

Jacobi said...

Cheer up! There are as many different missions, as there are Catholics.

The relief of the “poor”, as opposed to the naked and the hungry as I have commented elsewhere, is not the only mission. I speak as one who is of a poor family, poor by any standards. But we were happy, reasonably Catholic, particularly my mother, and able to cope with the world.

Conclusion, there are far worse problems in this world than poverty, for example, ignorance of the Redeeming Sacrifice on the Cross of the Son of God.

umblepie said...

Share your views Laurence. However, I must say that I cannot believe that the Holy Father intended his words to be interpreted in the way that they have, even though he said it! This sounds crazy, but perhaps these particular words are quoted 'out of context' as it were, which can convey a whole different meaning to that originally intended.In cricketing parlance, I give the Holy Father 'not out', as I consider there to be real doubt that he meant what is suggested.

Elizabeth said...

Wow, this is the first I'd heard of today's Papal Blunder. The hits just keep on coming, don't they? Unfortunately, 'blunder' probably isn't the correct word. That would imply that he made a mistake. I fear that this wasn't a mistake and that he actually means what he says. All the more frightening.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I admit I wish the Holy Father would pack up and go back to the Pampas, and leave the keys of the Motel 6 to a man named Burke. But even I have to say that four solid hours of silent prayer for Syria before a monstrance containing the Blessed Sacrament puts the doubt to some of what you've said.

Hermit Crab said...

Well written article, the good fruit of time well-spent in libraries. Many thanks !

Jacobi said...

Just another thought. Any military man, of whom I am not one, would tell you that the one place you cannot determine what is going on, how the wider battle is going, is in the heat of your particular battle. And make no mistake about it we are in the middle of a battle.

That is why the headquarters, or libraries in religious terms, are well back from the front line.

So the Dominicans need not worry.

David said...

With this one sentence the Pope has denied the Church's perennial teaching that the contemplative life is the highest form of the Christian life.

This is a man that is capable of bringing down what remains of the Church in the West. And right up to the final cataclysm there will continue to be those who reproach other Catholics for seeing that what is before them.

Lynda said...

I think the Pope should go on a silent retreat ..... for about, say, five years?

Fr Seán Coyle said...

Though he didn't compose it himself, Pope Francis's general prayer intention for September is: 'Value of Silence. That people today, often overwhelmed by noise, may rediscover the value of silence and listen to the voice of God and their brothers and sisters'.

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