Monday, 3 December 2007

Love of Neighbour

Unable to sleep I arose at a monastic hour to do some marking, drink tea, and pass the time. I was very pleased to find this comment in one of the boxes below, which I think is worth publishing; a good example of spiky Christian charity. It's actually given me one or two ideas, because I hadn't thought of posting on incense smell tests.

The correspondent is James Hastings, who like me also lives in Somerset, and he has a blog.

Hi Gravi,

I came across your blog while out blogwandering. I love the pretty pictures and illustrations.

However, all the entries seem to focus on religious issues, ie, Communion on the tongue or hand, the right way to light candles or smell tests for incence.

I wonder what are your views away from the pedantic? What about life outside legalism? I mean, are you following Jesus' Great Commission? (Mark 16: 15-18) Is your parish having to install more seats to accommodate converts? Are you raising the dead, healing the sick and preaching the Good News to the masses?

Or are you lost in the love of legalism?



I can feel a Newman/Kingsley literary moment coming on. Thanks James.

PS I couldn't find a pic of me raising the dead so here's one of St Paul preaching the Gospel in Athens, by Raphael.


Anonymous said...

Hi Gravi,

I like your sense of humour.
But seriously, is your parish fulfilling the Great Commission? Are people bursting at the doors to get in, whether for the Latin or the varnacular Mass or other services? Are the dead being raised and sick being healed, spiritually, physically, or in any other way? That's the Commission - and it applies to Somerset just as much as Samaria.



Thomas Caedmon said...

Gravi, James,

I think James makes a valid point, one which I've been hesitant to make myself because it is hard to put it as well as James does.

My own memories of packed-out churches come from colourful, musical, 'charismatic' Masses. In contrast, the Latin Mass I went to yesterday drew only a handful of people.

When I read discussions on liturgical abuses of the Novus Ordo and what have you, my thoughts wander to the story of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit converted something like 3,000 people by speaking through the apostles and using all the human languages. I can't help believing that the spirit is just as capable of speaking through Fr Stan Fortuna's rap music as it is through the Gregorian chant. While i can appreciate the love people have for the Latin Mass, I also think the spirit is also keen to draw people in by speaking to them in their own languages.

Matthew Gerard said...

No humour here 'Gravi', but one for you. If in your opinion it is unhelpful - delete - if not amend it how you want make me sound better and publish.


You seem greatly concerned about what you title 'the Great Commission' and this blogger's commitment to it rather than a pedantry legalistic view of the world.

I do not know whether this blog fits in with the 'religious porn' web-sites that you cite (incorrectly) on your blog but this blog seeks to work out how to teach theology in a cetain, clear manner beyond the wishy-washy Christian 'big-tent' teaching that has beome the norm. Communion and heritage important, candles and incense not.

There may be no healing of the sick here but the Catholic teacher's vocation is the natural path of most of the saints who have past through this world (you won't find them in the 'Lives of Saints'). Taking the life of Jesus in his years prior to the last few years as his example: a life quietly anonymously and carefully explaining the word of God through word and example in his community. That is the Commission.

The Holy Office said...

Matthew Gerard

I think I will just publish you without tweaking!


The Holy Office said...

To be honest I don't keep a blog as a record of my great deeds or that of my parish. And I don't go to Mass to expect charismatic fireworks. Just to unite myself with Christ through the Sacrifice of the Mass, with Christ who offers himself on the Cross and throughout time, to the Father, interceding for us, redeeming us. Remember - you were a Catholic once, James - the Mass is 'perfect worship', in its essence, disregarding contingencies such as crowd turn-out.

As the burning Babe was born in a stable in Bethlehem, not in an evangelical 'mega-Church', so I am perfectly content witnessing heaven on earth at a quiet parish Mass with a few fellow labourers. Not that all those things you mention don't sound terribly exciting.

As for fulfilling the Commission, I hope I am - but my blog isn't really about this pilgrim's progress.

In a way, I want to agree that Catholic parish life is not always and everywhere as vibrant as it should be. But I'm not sure whether my idea of a vibrant parish is the same as yours.

And I might add that such things as how we receive Holy Communion are not petty legalism, any more than God telling Moses to take his shoes off was legalism. O and there is a way of lighting candles properly.

I suppose I am a legalist: but I live by the New Law.

Ottaviani said...

Are the dead being raised and sick being healed, spiritually, physically, or in any other way? That's the Commission - and it applies to Somerset just as much as Samaria.

The Great Commission set by Our Lord is in Matt 28: 19-20, where Jesus tells the apostles to preach the gospel and baptise nations (notice how he doesn't say we have to 'dialogue' or perform miracles - which even the Devil can do with God's permission). Christ said this to his apostles and his teaching authority is found in the Catholic church, which he built on St. Peter (Matt 16: 18).

The Catholic church has been trying to fulfil this divine mandate for 2000 years and will continue to do so until Our Lord comes again in glory.

Anonymous said...

Hi y'all,

Thanks for your comments.
I wasn't trying to argue an either/or position. My normal Sunday worship is charismatic, much in the style of King David who danced and raised his hands in the air, as did the Jews in Jesus' time - in fact they still do.
I attend an Anglican communion on Wednesdays, with full Liturgy and where the vicar actually has his back to the people, so I benefit from both kinds of worship.
My point was simply to ask Gravi (and anyone else) if his parish fulfilled Jesus' Great Commission to raise the dead and heal the sick?
In my church, our first duty is the First Commandment. But we can't stop there, no matter how seductive or grand the worship with candles and art.
So in my church, as in many of those attended by my Catholic friends, (Flame Ministries International, Fr Bob deGrandis, Cor et Lumen Christi) the dead are raised (physically) the sick healed (physically) the depressed set free, the poor taken out of poverty and so on.
If you guys are in love with the love of worship, you're only halfway there.