Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Yves Congar on the Church

From Richard McBrien's The Church: The Evolution of Catholicism:
There were at least six major components of Congar’s ecclesiological approach: (1) the Church is the People of God. The laity as well as the clergy and religious are called to full participation in the Church’s life, mission, and ministries. (2) The hierarchy exists to serve the Church, not to dominate it. (3) The Church is a minority in the service of the majority. It exists in itself, but not for itself. It prepares the way for the coming of the Kingdom of God. (4) The Church must always be engaged in institutional and communal renewal and reform, in both head and members. (5) The Church is a communion in which structures are only a means to enable it to fulfill its mission. (6) The Church is ecumenical in nature and scope.
And who's the guy on the left?

Augustine & Rahner

“Many whom God has, the Church does not have; and many whom the Church has, God does not have.” 

Theologian Karl Rahner, adapted from a saying by St. Augustine.

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Restless Soul

This article has been posted at the online magazine Life as a Human.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"That one too is God"

From The Hero with a Thousand Faces:

We are all reflexes of the image of the Bodhisattva. The sufferer within us is that divine being. We and that protecting father are one. This is the redeeming insight. The protecting father is every man we meet. And so it must be known that, though this ignorant, limited, self-defending, suffering body may regard itself as threatened by some other -- the enemy -- that one too is God.
It's on page 137, Your Grace.

Monday, June 20, 2011

"Glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate"

Joseph Campbell's The Hero wwith a Thousand Faces was published in 1949. Here is an excerpt from the section entitled Apotheosis, which rings with contemporary relevance:

Once we have broken free of the prejudices of our own provincially limited ecclesiastical, tribal, or national rendition of the world archetypes, it becomes possible to understand that the supreme initiation is not that of the local motherly fathers, who then project aggression onto the neighbors for their own defense. The good news, which the World Redeemer brings and which many have been glad to hear, zealous to preach, but reluctant, apparently, to demonstrate, is that God is love, that He can be, and is to be, loved, and that all without exception are his children. Such comparatively trivial matters as the remaining details of the credo, the techniques of worship, and the devices of episcopal organization (which have so absorbed the interest of Occidental theologians that they are today seriously discussed as the principal questions of religion), are merely pedantic snares, unless kept ancillary to the major teaching. Indeed, where not so kept, they have a regressive effect: they reduce the father image back again to the dimensions of the totem. And this, of course, is what has happened throughout the Christian world. One would think that we had been called upon to decide or to know whom, of all of us, the Father prefers. Whereas, the teaching is much less flattering: "Judge not, that ye be not judged." The World Savior's cross, despite the behavior of its professed priests, is a vastly more democratic symbol than the local flag.

The understanding of the final -- and critical -- implications of the world-redemptive words and symbols of the tradition of Christendom has been so disarranged during the tumultuous centuries that have elapsed since St. Augustine's declaration of the holy war of the Civitas Dei against the Civitas Diaboli, that the modern thinker wishing to know the meaning of a world religion (i.e., of a doctrine of universal love) must turn his mind to the other great (and much older) universal communion: that of the Buddha, where the primary word still is peace -- peace to all beings.
While it is not necessary that those of us who are disenchanted with the "pedantic snares" and the "disarranged world-redemptive words and symbols" of the contemporary Church become Buddhists, we might like to reflect on the fact that our brother Jesus (as fellow blogger Michael Bayly so aptly and touchingly refers to him) was neither theologian nor cleric, neither pope nor bishop; he was simply called "Rabbi" - teacher. He was not concerned with creeds, liturgy, or "the devices of episcopal organization." His only concern was love.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"Flags are in the heads of people"

I live in Vancouver. Our hockey team, the Canucks, is about to play in Game Seven of the Stanley Cup final against the Boston Bruins. The city is completely abuzz with the possibility that the team will win its first Stanley Cup in the forty years of its existence and that the Cup will return to Canada (after all, hockey is our sport) for the first time since 1993. There have been comparisons made with the excitement in the city around the hockey final between the US and Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, held here in Vancouver.

There are Canucks flags flying everywhere.

Here is another gem from Anthony de Mello's book:

Something more about words. I said to you earlier that words are limited. There is more I have to add. There are some words that correspond to nothing. For instance, I am an Indian. Now, let's suppose that I'm a prisoner of war in Pakistan, and they say to me, "Well, today we're going to take you to the frontier and you're going to take a look at your country." So they bring me to the frontier, and I look across the border, and I think, "Oh my country, my beautiful country. I see villages and trees and hills. This is my own, my native land!" After a while, one of the guards says, "Excuse me, we've made a mistake here. We have to move up another ten miles." What was I reacting to? Nothing. I kept focusing on a word, India. But trees are not India. Trees are trees. In fact, there are no frontiers or boundaries. They were put there by the human mind; generally by stupid, avaricious politicians. My country was one country once upon a time; it's four now. If we don't watch out it might be six. Then we'll have six flags, six armies. That's why you'll never catch me saluting a flag. I abhor all national flags because they are idols. What are we saluting? I salute humanity, not a flag with an army around it.

Flags are in the heads of people. In any case there are thousands of words in our vocabulary that do not correspond to reality at all. But do they trigger emotions in us! So we begin to see things that are not there. We actually see Indian mountains when they don't exist. Your American conditioning exists.  My Indian conditioning exists.

And our Canadian conditioning exists, our Vancouver conditioning exists, and our Canucks conditioning exists. 

(Go Canucks!)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Anthony de Mello: Awareness without Evaluating Everything

 From Awareness: The Perils and Opportunities of Reality:

Do you want to change the world? How about beginning with yourself? How about being transformed yourself first? But how do you achieve that? Through observation. Through understanding. With no interference or judgment on your part. Because what you judge you cannot understand.

When you say of someone "He's a communist," understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on him. "She's a capitalist." Understanding has stopped at that moment. You slapped a label on her, and if the label carries undertones of approval or disapproval, so much the worse! How are you going to understand what you disapprove of, or what you approve of, for that matter? All of this sounds like a new world, doesn't it? No judgment, no commentary, no attitude: one simply observes, one studies, one watches, without the desire to change what is. Because if you desire to change what is into what should be, you no longer understand.
 The last sentence is the key: we seem always to want to change the behaviour of others so that it conforms with our expectations, and of course when it does not conform, we are not only disappointed, we judge that other person as selfish, hurtful, insensitive, thoughtless, whatever. The problem lies in our harbouring these expectations, which we often do unconsciously.If we can let them go and simply be aware, all our judgmental notions of good and bad simply dissolve.

De Mello goes on to say:
A dog trainer attempts to understand a dog so that he can train the dog to perform certain tricks. A scientist observes the behavior of ants with no further end in view than to study ants, to learn as much as possible about them. He has no other aim. He's not attempting to train them or to get anything out of them. He's interested in ants, he wants to learn as much as possible about them. That's his attitude. The day you attain a posture like that, you will experience a miracle. You will change -- effortlessly, correctly. Change will happen, you will not have to bring it about. As the life of awareness settles on your darkness, whatever is evil will disappear. Whatever is good will be fostered. You will have to experience that for yourself. 
 Judging (and condemning) are life-long habits -- so much so that they are automatic, mechanical, unconscious reactions. Like other habits that are unhealthy for us, we need to replace them with healthy ones. In this case we need to replace desire and expectation and unconscious judgment with the habit of observation, of awareness. Such a process takes a certain amount of discipline. But the result will be profound and miraculous: a transformation from unhappiness to happiness.