Mark Mossa, SJ has posted something very interesting on his blog, and I though I'd take up space on my own page rather than in his comment box to ruminate (there I go-big word. you're in trouble now ;) ). It's in response to a blog post by Alan Creech, whom I was reading for the first time. Alan was talking about fundamentalism.
Mark invites us to: Read Alan's words and ask the question: Where do we see there the opportunity to invite, to celebrate and to build up in a way that will bring us closer to the unity that Christ prayed for? Mark was responding in his post to what he sees as what many Generation Xers feel as alienation from the Church.
Well, like Mark and Alan, I am a Generation X member, though on the late end of the generation, so maybe I'm a little out of touch with the whole stereotpyical angst of the generation. Truth is, I've never felt that the characterizations of my generation ever really applied to my friends and me, even when I was in high school and the whole "generation X" thing started to happen. Couldn't relate to "Reality Bites" or "Singles." Maybe it passed me by. On a personal level, I don't think I have ever really felt alienated from the Church. If anything, I have felt that it was I who needed to change, not the Church. I look at it this way, Holy Mother Church has been doing quite well for 2000 years. If she were not of God, she would have sunk 1800 years ago. If it ain't broke...
But to answer Mark's question, what are the things we need to emphasize to draw us closer to the untiy that Christ desires for those who follow Him? Well, let me take it in a Generation X perspective. There is a chapter of a nationwide (maybe worldwide) movement called Spirit and Truth which meets at our parish. It is a small Christian Community of young adult Catholics (ages 21-35) which meets every week for Eucharistic Adoration, teaching, and fellowship every Friday night. In the last year, the group at our parish has outgrown the small meeting room they started out in and moved to the school gym. They'll meet from 8 PM till Midnight (meeting is supposed to be over at 10).
The primary reason why this group is successful is because it holds the Eucharist at its core. The Eucharist is the "source and summit" of our faith. It is the foundation. It is fundamental. I think that for us as Church to achieve unity, we need to return to the fundmentals, to a simplicity of truth. I think our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, can lead us to that. It seems to be his style. Did you read his first encyclical? It draws us back to the basic: God is Love, Deus Caritas Est.
I also think that Catholics in general need to realize that being "on fire for God" is a good thing, not something to be suspicious of. Can we please go back and read the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles? Remember Pentecost? 5000 people do not get baptized in one day if the Apostles are not "on Fire for God." I know a couple who are coming back to the Church after spending a few years in an evangelical protestant community. They were drawn to it because of the fire that the evangelicals had. The husband was being trained to lead other Catholics away from the faith. Praise God, as he was reading the ancient fathers, he became more convicted that the Catholic Church was the True Church. He told me that when he tried to share what he had learned with his pastor, the man didn't want to hear it. I said, "Well, he didn't want to be converted." When confronted with the truth, one must either embrace the truth or continue to live a lie knowing that it is a lie.
It all comes back to the fundamentals. The Eucharist. The constant call to conversion of self, and the bringing of others with us. This is how we achieve unity.