Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

The people who feel driven today to turn their backs on the Church are not only the ones who have become alienated from the Church's faith or who regard the Church as too old-fashioned, too medieval, to hostile to the world and life, but also those who loved the historical form of the Church: her worship, her timelessness, and the reflection of the eternal in her. It seem sto them that the Church is in the process of betraying what is most characteristic of her, that she is selling herself to the current fashion and thus losing her soul: they are disappointed like a lover who has to experience the betrayal of a great love and must seriously consider turning his back on her.

Conversely, however, there are also quite conflicting reasons to stay in the Church: the ones who remain are not only those who steadfastly adhere to their faith in her mission or whose who are unwilling to sever their ties to a dear old habit (even though they make little use of that habit). Also remaining in the Church today, quite emphatically, are those who reject her entire historical character and passionately fight against the meaning that her officials try to give her or uphold. Although they want to do away with what the Church was and is, they are determined not to be ousted, so that they can make of her what, in their opinion, she is supposed to become. [p. 134]

* * *
"The death of God" is a very real process, which today extends deep into the interior of the Church. God is dying in Christendom, so it seems. For when resurrection becomes an experience of a commission perceived in outmoded imagery, then God is not at work. Is he at work at all? That is the question that immediately follows. But who wants to be so reactionary as to insist on a realistic "he is risen"? Thus what one person necessarily considers unbelief is progress to another, and what was hitherto unthinkable becomes normal: that men who long ago abandoned the Church's Creed should in good conscience regard themselves as the truly progressive Christians. For them, however, the only standard by which to measure the Church is the expediency with which she functions; of course, the question remains as to what is expedient and for what purpose the whole thing is actually supposed to function. For social criticism, for developmental aid, for revolution? Or for community celebrations? [p. 139]

Joseph Ratzinger, on "Why I am still in the Church", circa 1970. From Fundamental Speeches from Five Decades].

No comments:

Post a Comment