ebrating Incarnation! Out of cold and dark, creative love exploded a universe.
"The eternal Christ Mystery began with the Big Bang where God decided to materialize as the universe. Henceforth, the material and the spiritual have always co-existed, just as Genesis 1:1-2 seems to be saying. Although this Christ existed long before Jesus, and is coterminous with creation itself, Christians seem to think Christ is Jesus' last name. What Jesus allows us to imagine-because we see it in him-is that the divine and the human are forever one. God did not just take on one human nature, although that is where we could first risk imagining it in the body of Jesus. God took on all human nature and said "yes" to it forever! In varying degrees and with infinite qualities, God took on everything physical, material, and natural as himself. That is the full meaning of the Incarnation. To allow such a momentous truth, to fully believe it, to enjoy it in
practical ways, to suffer it with and for others-this is what it means to be a Christian! Nothing less will do now. Nothing less will save the world." Richard Rohr OFM, Daily Meditation, December 18, 2014.
And billions of years later, here we are trying to bring Christ consciousness to bear on the Church in the Modern World! Massimo Faggioli, former Church history prof at St. Thomas, now at Villanova, was in town on December 2, guest of Call to Action MN, to speak about the current state of affairs with the Roman Catholic Church. The question the participants addressed was whether one should remain actively Catholic in these times.
Professor Faggioli's answer was a resounding yes, though he understands and listed several reasons for discouragement. He believes in the leadership of Pope Francis in discerning the way of Jesus in these times. He is hopeful that the U.S. Catholic Church, implementing Vatican II, can counter the national cultural movement toward segregated like-minded communities fed by like-minded media--
The Big Sort
, 2008, by Bill Bishop.
For an explanation of the reception of Vatican II and its pastoral constitution on the Church in the Modern World,
Gaudium et Spes
, in the U.S. see Massimo Faggioli,
Catholicism and Citizenship
, Chapter 6, Liturgical Press, 2017. In his conclusion, Professor Faggioli says the crisis of democracy and the crisis in the U.S. Church have a similar postmodern root: "There is no superior part--not in the church, not in society--that can claim the privilege of representing the entire body politic or the entire church. Such representations simply do not exist anymore" pp.152-3.
What about the polarization in our own Archdiocese?
The December 11 symposium on transgender issues at St. Thomas exemplified that polarization--opposing views presented on either side of the corridor in O'Shaughnessy Education Center. One side's speakers denied the validity of gender dysphoria and the moral good of transitioning, while asking how the Church could offer pastoral care to people who claim to experience gender dysphoria. The other side's speakers explored the current neuroscience of gender development and its cultural expression. This side advocated acceptance of people who experience gender dysphoria and claim the freedom and value of transitioning.
There was a significant power differential between the sides, however. The side affirming exclusive binary gender identity as the order of creation was sponsored by the St. Paul Seminary and the Minnesota Catholic Conference (MCC). All the bishops of Minnesota, except the Bishop of Winona, were in attendance with lay ministers and parish workers as well as the full backing of archdiocesan resources. On the other side, several academic departments at St. Thomas responded to the symposium with the solidarity program.
Archbishop Hebda was present at the Seminary symposium during the day and at the Solidarity Day discussion session in the evening. You could tell him what you think or ask him what he thinks at email@example.com.
In 2018, CCCR/Council of the Baptized will be asking, as we were in 2015-2017, how we can collaborate with Archbishop Hebda in bringing our polarized archdiocese together in the spirit of Vatican II.
Let us know if you have any insights into strategies for overcoming resistance to the Vatican II direction. We have been using John O'Malley's understanding from
What Happened at Vatican II
, p. 307, and it looks like this is Pope Francis's understanding too:
The vision of Vatican II moved the Church
from commands to invitations,
from laws to ideals,
from definitions to mystery,
from threats to persuasion,
from coercion to conscience,
from monologue to dialogue,
from ruling to serving,
from withdrawn to integrated,
from vertical to horizontal,
from exclusion to inclusion,
from hostility to friendship,
from rivalry to partnership,
from suspicion to trust,
from static to on-going,
from passive acceptance to active engagement,
from fault finding to appreciation,
from prescriptive to principled,
from behavior modification to inner appropriation.