Some interesting things happening. First off, the NCR (National Catholic Reporter) in an editorial came out in favor of women’s ordination. This is a courageous step, although the way these things are dealt with by “leadership”, anybody who helped write the editorial, print it up, cleaned the floors in any rooms where the editorial might have passed through, or read and enjoyed it, probably is excommunicated. There is a lot of that going around these days. There seems to be no more serious sin than to be in favor of women’s ordination.
Along this same line, Fr Bill Brennan, a 92 year old Jesuit Catholic priest who participated in a eucharistic liturgy with a woman priest last month, has been ordered to no longer celebrate the Mass or perform any other priestly duties at the direction of the Archbishop of Milwaukee, WI. Brennan, a retired parish priest and former missionary to Belize, said he was hesitant to confirm the news regarding his loss of faculties because he was also ordered not to talk to the press. Secrecy and power. Sounds like more bullying to me. This was done, no doubt, in the name of Jesus.
Recently the church began a Year of Faith encouraging everyone to return to Jesus as known, loved, and taught by the church. If the treatment of this 92 year old Jesuit missionary and parish priest is an example of the love of Jesus, who would want to have anything to do with it? Fortunately people know Jesus really is love, and never treated people in any way even remotely resembling this. Unfortunately, though, many of those who claim to be his apostles haven’t learned that. In a comparison of personal courage and integrity between Fr Bill and the hierarch who ordered this treatment, Fr Bill wins hands down.
The website for the Year of Faith says, “God has opened the door of faith for each one us and he invites us to step through the threshold into a deeper relationship with him. . . the Year of Faith is an opportunity for every Catholic to turn towards Jesus Christ, encounter him in the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist, and rediscover the Faith and Church”. What door? What Faith? What Church? The one guarded by those whose goal is to protect their own power at all costs, who bully folks disagreeing with their discrimination against women and their protection of their own who covered up child abuse, and who think the folks aren’t smart enough to see what is really going on here? Is this the faith handed on from the Apostles? No, it isn’t. Folks know the Jesus of the Gospels is not the Jesus of the hierarchs imposed by threats and fear. When we try to learn from Jesus and imitate his loving and caring, we come to know we are not going to find him in the threats and pontifications of “leadership”. Folks want to turn towards Jesus, but there are some nasty people standing in the way. Any who are serious about turning back to Jesus may have to do it in spite of them, as many folks already are.
Today’s Mass Readings are interesting, considering what is going on. The reading from Isaiah talks of what we come to know as the Gifts of the Spirit: “The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, a Spirit of counsel and of strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD, and his delight shall be the fear of the LORD”. Fear of the Lord is a matter of loving trust having nothing to do with fear of punishment. Folks know this, so fewer and fewer pay any attention to hierarchs’ threats. Some stay in the pews and try to do what they believe is right. Others walk away and try to do what they believe is right. All of us are trying to do what we believe is right in any situation, and so good happens.
The Reading from Luke says, although you have hidden these thing from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike”. Perhaps the “wise and the learned” are the ones with all the answers, while the “childlike” are the folks with all the questions. Answers are closed, questions are open. Answers know, so there is no need for faith. Questions don’t know, so there is plenty of room for faith. Trying to figure out how to form and follow one’s conscience is a journey of questions and faith, wide open with room to grow. Fr Bill and Fr Roy, among many others, show us what it is to question, and the price many questioners have to pay. Questioning leads to growth. In the face of authoritarian fear, questioning can be costly.
Just sayin . . .