Writing a regular blog is bound to make you look a bit of a know-it-all. Three times a week in my case, I have to file my copy, come rain come shine. Three pieces a week means you have constantly to think of something to write about: then you have to get yourself to some extent informed about it before you start writing. In fact, there’s a lot to write about in the Catholic Church, and a regular blog builds up a certain momentum: it almost becomes self-sustaining. There are times, all the same, when one feels overwhelmed by the reactions one has unleashed, and the burden of failing to have anything useful to say in the face of unanswered and unanswerable questions is sometimes very heavy.
For instance: my blog last Monday, entitled, “The ordinariates are a sign that those fighting for the faith aren’t as lonely as they think”, elicited two responses, both of which made and still make me feel entirely inadequate. One would have to write a book, not a blog, to answer each of them. And what would one say, even if one had the space? For with both, we are in deep waters.
Here’s the first response, to my attempt to argue that the state of the Church was less hopeless than my correspondent (is that what you call someone who answers your blogs?) appeared to be saying in his reactions to my articles over the weeks:
So Dr Oddie: A Question:
Apart from praying long and hard, and unswerving reception of the sacraments… what can we do to help?
United we stand: Is there nothing we can do as a collective?
Reaction: gulp. To say simply that we each have to follow what we think is our own particular vocation, try to light up our own little corner, doesn’t really do the job, does it? Here’s a question for my readers: how would you answer that one? Then, what about this question, elicited by both myself and the correspondent I have just quoted:
Dr Oddie/Paulpriest [his pen name], I have been listening to both of you for about 3 weeks discussing a lot of topics that I (as an ex Baptist) have only a slight awareness of. Would it be possible to give a summary of your concerns on the tensions within the Church and your concerns with Vatican II? You seem to be referring to it as something more negative than positive.
In my case it was the Pope’s visit to the UK … that caused me to review all the teaching I had had against the Catholic Church and be in a position where I could truly come home …. What I would like to gain if at all possible is an understanding of the state of the house I now reside in. If this is at all possible it would be much appreciated.
Where to begin? How would you, dear reader, answer that question, without drawing this new convert into the strong and sometimes unpleasant controversies the words “Vatican II” so often stir up? He (or she) doesn’t need that. My own feelings about the Council are entirely positive, not negative: it’s those who have hijacked the Council and even its language for their own ends who arouse my own passionately negative feelings. For instance, the word “renewal”. The Council was supposed to be about the renewal of the Catholic tradition (something which always goes on anyway in any tradition if it is alive, but which needs a bit of a boost from time to time).
What the hijackers did wasn’t even to attempt a renewal of the tradition: it was to attempt to cancel the tradition, to discontinue it, and to call that willful destruction a renewal. So every time you heard the word “renewal” back then, you groaned. Not any longer, not me. Partly in answer (though obliquely) to both my questioners, here’s a story of genuine renewal in the Church, and therefore something for us all collectively to pray for. This is something we can actually do together. Here are the opening paragraphs of a Zenit news story:
NEW ORDER BEGINS WITH VOCATION EXPLOSION
Iesu Communio Established in Spain
BURGOS, Spain, FEB. 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Nearly 200 young nuns processed from their cloister to the cathedral of Burgos on Saturday for the official establishment of their new institute of consecrated life.
Sister Verónica María Berzosa Martínez, formerly the abbess of the group is now also their founder.
Sister Berzosa, 46, joined the Poor Clares when she was 18. She felt called along with the sisters of her community to establish this new charism, which has now been recognized by the Church as an institute of consecrated life.
“I am as happy as I am overwhelmed by it all, especially the incomparable gift of being a Christian, of belonging to the Church of Jesus Christ, where every day I am more passionate about the gift of the call to follow him,” she said.
Iesu Communio was approved by Pope Benedict in December last year. The sisters, according to one report, “are seen as followers of the new evangelisation called for by Pope John Paul II”. According to the same report, “Dozens of young women are already reported to be hoping to join the new order. Others are expected to join the waiting list when the sisters of Iesu Communio attend the Catholic Church’s World Youth Day later this year”.
That’s what Vatican II was supposed to be about: the renewal of the traditio, not its destruction: in this case, it seems, the Poor Clares in Spain were dying out fast: from them has sprung this vigorous new growth.
I hope to be saying more about Iesu Communio in due course. Until then let us all pray for these sisters in the early days of this stirring new (but also very old) movement: may it remain faithful to its charism; and may this striking example of renewal in the Church inspire and cheer us all.