for Him who has been found
By Diogenes ( articles ) | Aug 28, 2005
Here's an excerpt from the Pope's Angelus address for this Sunday:
The search for Christ must be the incessant craving of believers, of youth and adults, of the faithful and their pastors. This search should be encouraged, sustained and guided. Faith is not simply adherence to a system of dogmas complete in itself, which would extinguish the thirst for God present in the human soul. On the contrary, it launches man on a journey in time towards a God who is always new in His infiniteness. Thus the Christian is at the same time one who seeks and one who finds. It is precisely this which makes the Church young, open to the future, rich in hope for all humanity.
St. Augustine, whom we commemorate today, makes some stupendous reflections about the invitation in Psalm 104, "Quaerite faciem eius semper -- Seek His face always." He notes that this invitation is valid not only for this life: it applies to eternity as well. The discovery of the 'face of God' is never exhausted. The more we enter into the splendor of divine love, the more beautiful it is to proceed with the search, so that "amore crescente inquisitio crescat inventi – in the measure in which love grows, let the search for Him who has been found grow the more."
Beautiful words, but more than beautiful words. This is obviously the heartfelt belief of a man who has felt the craving of which he speaks, and his appetite for the face of God communicates itself to his hearers and becomes contagious. The exploration is never-ending, but just as importantly: God has been found; we are not chasing after a mirage.
Contrast that with the spiritual rhinestones Cardinal Roger Mahony presents to his flock upon his return from Cologne:
"World Youth Day teaches us the ability to be unafraid to be seen with other young people together in prayer," he said. "Prayer is our means of outreach because we can pray for healing in our families, our communities, our friends, or for peace in the world."
Healing. Our means of outreach. What Mahony says about prayer is not wrong exactly, but it's the language of a man uneasy with the topic he feels constrained to address. Unlike Mahony, Pope Benedict never apologizes for God.
In liturgy, in catechesis, in church architecture, in homiletics, in public leadership, the Mahony school manages to communicate to us that God somehow falls short of expectations and that excuses need to be made for Him: I'm sorry God is boring, but here's some music and dance to amuse you. I'm sorry God's law is demanding, but here are some clergy too well bred to mention it. I'm sorry we're stuck with embarrassing positions on abortion and marriage, but here are some social justice projects to give you a little lift.
But Benedict makes no excuses, and offers no apologies. He is fully aware of how difficult it is to live as a Christian in an increasingly un-Christian and anti-Christian world, but, without losing his calm, he never hints at a compromise: Seek His face always. Stanley Jaki has said that "the most serious failure of liberal theology and liberal theologians lies in their chronic inability to generate saints." More serious still is their failure to point to a God to whom they themselves feel impelled to bend the knee. Adoration breeds pilgrims and martyrs. Can anyone say the same for "outreach"?
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