From the springs of salvation

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jul 15, 2003

After reading this Shirley MacLaine-ish proposal for a new ecumenical council to be called Earth One, I was put in mind of a quite different calibre of Catholic sensibility -- this in an essay by Georges Bernanos:

One reforms the visible Church only by suffering for the invisible Church. One reforms the vices of the Church only by being prodigal of the example of her most heroic virtues. It is possible that St. Francis of Assisi was not less revolted than Luther by the debauchery and by the simony of prelates. It is even certain that he suffered more cruelly because of them, for his nature was very different than that of the monk of Weimar. But he did not challenge the iniquity, he did not try to confront it with himself. He hurled himself into poverty, plunged into it as deeply as he could, along with his followers, as into the source of purity. Instead of trying to snatch from the Church her ill-gotten goods, he overwhelmed her with invisible treasures, and under the gentle hand of this mendicant the heap of gold and of luxury began to blossom like like an April hedge. Oh, I know well enough that in these matters comparisons are not of much worth, especially when they are not free from a touch of humor. May I be permitted to say, nevertheless, in order to be better understood by some readers, that the Church has need not of critics, but of artists? ... In the great crises of poetry what matters is not to denounce bad poets, nor worse still to hang them, but to write beautiful verses, to reopen the sacred sources. The Church has need not of reformers but of saints.

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  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 15, 2003 9:30 PM ET USA

    Spiritual junk food for sure, Diogenes. I wouldn't eat to much of it.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 15, 2003 10:01 AM ET USA

    Perhaps the Church has need of critics and artists. The Old Testament is replete with prophetic denunciations of evil within God's covenant people. Jesus followed in this tradition by throwing the money changers out of the temple and castigating the scribes and pharisees on several occasions. The Church has need of people who love Jesus and show it by the way they live- in the fashion of Francis or Catherine of Siena, as their natures incline them.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 15, 2003 8:57 AM ET USA

    Reading the Earth One proposal, I wasn't surprised to find that one of the three things the proposer wants to change is the Church's teachings on sex. Why do the critics say the Church is obsessed with sex when they're the ones who really are obsessed with it?

  • Posted by: - Jul. 15, 2003 8:33 AM ET USA

    The fantasizer of Earth One obviously has given little thought to eschatology in the form of Earth II--the new heaven and new earth. If he had, his Earth One would have a very different tone. But, not to worry, they probably would never get past the six month party--self-indulgence with increasing decadence has a way of writing its own script.