“When I go toward you
it is with my whole life.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
We have been treated to exceptionally good homilies these past couple weeks, directing our attention to our particular responsibilities as individual Christians and as a community. The failings of our own parish tend toward two mistaken attitudes to community, though perhaps the same could be said of most parishes, we American Catholics have a natural tendency to Protestantize our faith, especially in our sense of community, or else to react so strongly against the typically Protestant individualism that we forget we are, in fact individuals called to a personal relationship with a personal God. The first failing, the ever-present, American individualism that separates the parishioner from his parish, declaring that man’s relationship with God is personal, individual, and private; allowing him to compartmentalize his faith, hold it aside for the proper time and place. In this failing, we forget that we are all the body of Christ, that my sins hurt the whole body; the Church worships as one body, and that community is essential in our relationship with Christ. But the second failing takes this essential community too far, forgetting that we must have an individual, person-to-person relationship to God if we are to be able to enter into the community of the Church. Without our personal, individual relationship to Christ, our community worship is only a failed attempt to be lost in the crowd, to hide our individual lack of faith in the faith of others. This failing has a tendency to commandeer the time and activities of the individual, considering as it’s rightful property our evenings, weekends, and talents; which are not theirs, but God’s gift to us, to be used according to our own individual vocations.
At our parish we have both failings, and we often forget when arguing against the one, that we can’t go so far as to defend the other.
Yesterday I got a surprise call from moja siostra to say she was reading a book I didn’t exactly suggest, but mentioned recently: Holy Feast and Holy Fast – the religious significance of food to medieval women. The book is full excellent selections of writing on fasting, feasting, and the Eucharist, written by fascinating medieval women. But the book itself, when the author herself is speaking, is less than thrilling. I’m reading Kierkegaard again, with the firm intention of moving on to a collection of Pablo Neruda’s poems this evening.