It’s interesting that yesterday’s Office of Readings from the Liturgy of the Hours included a passage from St. Peter Chrysologus writing that Prayer and Fasting are nothing without Mercy. The three are necessary. That led me to reflect on the richness of our Catholic tradition and what it might have to say about the disconnect between faith and life in people’s lives. This may give us insight into why some people are leaving the Church.
We also have the marvelous letter from B16, Deus Caritas Est, which reminds us to focus on the “why” of our actions of love. Our love has be grounded in the love we have received from God.
Another way of looking at it is the image of the Cross. I often use this image when speaking of the liturgy. The liturgy, like the Cross, must have both the horizontal and vertical axis. An excess of one over the other distorts the reality. A vertical extreme focuses on the other-wordly-ness of the liturgy and is disconnected from the here and now, the community and the social implications and consequences of the Eucharist. It’s probably what I find most troubling about the use by some of the theology of the Tridentine Liturgy. A horizontal extreme, focuses only on the “meal”, the communal experience. It lacks much sense of the transcendant and makes the liturgy a very pedestrian experience.
I wonder if that can also apply to other aspects of the Church’s life. Some may leave the Church for other groups which focus more on community and leave it to individuals to decide whatever they wish in terms of creed, theology etc. Others may sometimes leave the Church for really intense experiences of prayer, praise & worship without every having to “bring it home”… what does it mean that I have to change about my life? How does it affect my relationships, the way I run my business or share with my classmate at school?
Either extreme is an abdication of our Catholic heritage. Either extreme fails to image the Cross of Christ!