Last week as part of a lawsuit settlement, St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota released the personnel files of 18 monks it says were credibly accused of sexually abusing minors….. Just a few days ago Pope Francis issued a reminder of his and the Catholic Church’s opposition to gay marriage as a fierce debate rages in Italy about a vote that could give legal recognition to same-sex couples. A Roman Catholic friend observed with dismay “the Catholic glass is now below half empty.”
Following a meeting with Pope Francis on January 15th, a group of Finnish Lutherans were offered Holy Communion by Roman Catholic priests at a mass held in St. Peter’s Basilica. ……..Another Catholic friend smiled and said “the Catholic glass is half full and filling.”
I suggest that we probably spend far too much time looking at glasses, whether half full or half empty. There is a much bigger world out here and people are caught up in a great transition. Perhaps we are too close to it right now to understand its extent and all ramifications.
The Pew Research Center observed this past week that Americans may be getting less religious, but feelings of spirituality are on the rise. “The growth of the unaffiliated population and their decreasing religiosity have been the main factors behind the emergence of a less religious public overall,” according to the Pew report. “But, interestingly,” the report continued “the rise in spirituality has been happening among both highly religious people and the religiously unaffiliated.” I have seen this same phenomenon in my part of Europe. Sunday mass attendance is very low, but retreat centers are full. That great hunger for a taste of the Divine.
We may not yet be on the edge of a new Great Awakening, but something fascinating is going on. Coincidentally this week a friend emailed a reflection by the Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. I connected with it immediately:
Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are, quite naturally,
impatient in everything to reach the end
We should like to skip
the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being
on the way to something unknown.
And yet it is the law of all progress
that it is made by passing through
some stages of instability —
and that it may take a very long time.
And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually —-
let them grow,
let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today
what time (that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make you tomorrow.
Only God could say what this new spirit
gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing
that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of
feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
A big Amen! Thank you Teilhard de Chardin.