Friday, February 24, 2012

A Good Captain for Our Team

Mother Delores Hart, a nun of Regina Laudis Abbey
and former movie star--her years in monastic life
have only increased her love for life--a good witness
of what religous faith is really about
Well I said yesterday that if the Church is to evangelize we need for it to put its best foot forward and you can bet that best foot isn’t attached to a bishop’s leg.  Frankly we need the bishops to step to the background and let others—preferably laity—come to the fore and represent the Church in the world not only because the hierarchy—as a whole—have lost credibility both for their mishandling of the sex abuse crisis but even more for the pompous arrogance with which they speak and demand to be listened to in a world that is far more sophisticated and complex than they are prepared to deal with.  We have Catholic voices that do carry weight and who credibly represent the Catholic voice.  (I will not say “represent the Church” because right now the hierarchy holds the cards as to who does and does not represent “The Church,” but whether their various excellencies and eminences like it or not  “their Church” is more narrow than “the Church” and my point about putting the best foot forward is precisely that “their Church” lacks the verve and élan to make the Gospel come alive in our contemporary world.  Like Peter stepping out of the boat, they have to overcome their fear and choose to trust that the waves won’t prevail, putting their faith in Christ’s promise rather than their own hollow power. 
       As I said in my last posting, you want something to believe in—look to a L’Arche community.  Look at a Franciscan bread-line or a Missionaries of Charity shelter for people with HIV/AIDS.  Have you seen the Jesuit-sponsored Christo Rey academies that prepare poor children for scholarships to first-rate Catholic High Schools that will be springboards to education and out of poverty?  Have you met any of the Little Sisters of the Poor and see how well they take care of the indigent aged?  And there’s more.  Go to Gethsemane Abbey, or Our Lady of the Genesee, or the nuns at Wrentham and see the Cistercian dedication to prayer and work—ora et labora.  Do you know the Carmelite nuns at Baltimore, or Cleveland, or Alhambra—great women giving their lives in compassionate prayer for and with people in every sort of need.  And then there is Catholic Relief Services and the outstanding work they do in Haiti, in Cambodia, in Guatemala and dozens of other countries around the world.  Here in this country look at the services run by Catholic Charities—pregnancy centers, immigrant centers, job-training centers, food pantries, women’s shelters and much more.  Have you ever visited a Catholic Worker House?  Up in Buffalo New York there is a wonderful group of people running Saint Luke’s Mission of Mercy.  In Alexandria Virginia we have Christ House.  You want an intelligent discussion of the issues from a Catholic perspective—you are more likely to find it in America or Commonweal than you are in a letter read from the pulpit.  Actually, at this point, the hierarchy has become little more than a millstone around the neck of American Catholicism—not because they are bishops but because of the sort of men who are most usually chosen for bishops.  We need bishops—but we need bright men who are holy, who are humble, and who look and look attentively to the needs, the struggles, and the experience of their flocks rather than to the monsignoral desk jockeys who run the Vatican and hand out advancements  based on institutional loyalty rather than the wisdom and compassion of a Shepherd’s heart.  
        There is a lot of attention these past few days about Delores Hart, a woman who gave up a promising career in Hollywood to become an enclosed Benedictinve Nun at Regina Laudis Abbey in Connecticut.   I am not going to spend a lot of time on Mother Delores—you can google her.  But a friend of mine sent me the attached link to an interview with her and I was impressed.  Here is a woman who turned away from the glamor and glitz to search for God.  When she speaks she has a lot to say.  It isn’t harsh and condemnatory.  It is frank and honest and yet so positive towards life and love and this world in which we live.   I am not a fan of the Huffington post, but check out the video in this article.  Here is someone that can speak for the Church so much better than whoever it is that writes those letters we keep getting read to us on Sunday mornings.

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