Is it perhaps true, after all, that I am suffering
in solidarity and compassion with our broken world,
with the souls who suffer in painful darkness and sin,
passing back and forth between the rifts within the Church,
rending her in half through the blindness of her children,
so that, by your love and your grace, in Christ,
the torn threads may be woven together in unity again?
For it is true that, in our day, the Church is being threatened
with being torn asunder in another schism, sowing disunity,
rooted in two different visions of who you are, my God:
the God who is Love, eternal Intimacy, everlasting Communion,
Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who call us, in pure gratuity,
to share in the inmost bliss of your own life,
and to do so in the fullness of our incarnate humanity,
body and spirit, in all of our desires and experiences;
and, on the opposite hand, the God of justice and authority,
who imposes his will upon us from without, and expects obedience,
and who punishes faults with unerring judgment, with strictness,
the God whose expectations are so rigid, so narrow,
that they suffocate human hearts, and harm them,
until they learn to castrate their own humanity, their desires,
and to live in strict and inhuman obedience, in pure blind submission,
to a task and a way of life that is imposed by a distant God.
In the first, acceptance and obedience is nothing but freedom,
the setting-free of the deepest desires and capacities of the heart,
which blossom freely precisely within the gift of God,
within your all-enfolding care and guiding grace,
writing the beautiful story of each unique life, incomparable,
in its singular beauty and charm and glorious radiance,
with human heart and hand cradled, and dancing,
with the lighthearted playfulness of a child, within your own.
In the second, obedience is a strict imposition from without,
from reason’s judgment of harshly interpreted laws and standards,
or from a superior will that imposes authority’s commands
that must be obeyed simply because they are superior,
and not because they spring from deeper Beauty, Goodness, Truth,
from the tender God whose every wish and will is Love:
whose only desire is the freedom and happiness of his children
in their healing, their holiness (for holiness and health are the same)
in the joy of sharing, God-like, in your own life as God:
in the transparent vulnerability in acceptance and self-giving,
and the consummated kiss and embrace of intimacy
that is your life forever as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
It hurts my heart to see, loving Father,
how many hearts, longing for you, and struggling,
turn to the second paradigm, the false vision of you,
simply because it offers an apparent solution to lukewarmness,
to the tepidity that is sadly present in so much of the Church.
They turn to so-called traditionalism, and become obsessed with external things,
all the while letting the essential core, the radiant essence, become obscured.
For along with beautiful reverence, sobriety, and care for fullness
come a fracturing sectarianism, a narrow rigidity, and blind peripherality,
in which, without realizing it, hearts depart from the Catholic fullness
in the very name of being “more catholic,” fueled by hidden pride,
and the radiant liberty of God, Love beyond all telling, ever surprising,
becomes trapped in outdated laws and rigid expectations,
in things that cropped up, in history, through dying thoughts and institutions,
through trends in the Church that needed to be corrected.
And, once they were, indeed, corrected by the Spirit’s activity,
by such persons they are now clung to as the central and most important thing,
precisely because they distinguish the “old Church” from the “new Church,”
the “real Church” from the “false Church,” supposedly fallen into heresy.
But the real Church is the one that still lives before the eyes of all,
her heart and life ever renewing, purifying,
by the grace of God, and your love, that abides in her.
Her message, through all the obscuring of history,
grows more and more transparent with the passing of the ages,
just as Scripture’s message itself, in the law of gradualness,
grows in clarity and transparency and simplicity
throughout the pages of the Old Testament until climaxing in the New,
the apex bursting forth in the love of the Incarnate Christ,
in the Redemption wrought by the Trinity,
in the gift of the Spirit and the Church.
This fullness given once, in the climax of history, salvation’s moment,
is already full and entire, living in the living Church,
and yet, in the development of the Church’s doctrine and life,
like a seed planted in the midst of humanity, and growing,
becomes a tree more beautifully, more radiantly, more simply
manifesting the heart of God’s own life, and your intentions,
for us to see, to receive, and to live, with childlike simplicity.
I pray for healing, I pray for wholeness.
I pray that hearts will see this division, and move beyond it:
that they will recognize you, the true God, with clarity,
and cast themselves into the arms of your mercy and love,
knowing the sweet simplicity of true faith,
and the freedom of living no law but the law of love,
in which everything else freely finds its place, transparently,
all flowing from, and returning anew, to the only thing that matters:
sharing in your own life, with the fullness of humanity, with the world redeemed,
a life that is eternal intimacy between three Persons, ravished by love,
between Father and Son and Holy Spirit, in which we find ourselves immersed.