Saturday, January 1, 2011

From Theological Madhouses, Spare Us O Lord

Abba Pambo(1) said,

Updated 1/25/11: "God is the life of all free beings. He is the salvation of all, of believers or unbelievers, of the just or the unjust, of the pious or the impious, of those freed from passions or those caught up in them, of monks or those living in the world, of the educated and the illiterate, of the healthy and the sick, of the young or the old. He is like the outpouring of light, the glimpse of the sun, or the changes of the weather which are the same for everyone without exception. If you have a heart, you can be saved."

Ah, that I can understand. It is not universalism (the teaching that all are already saved), but glorious invitation.

I know many Catholics, but around here where I live I know only one flesh-and-blood layperson who knows a little theology. Only one (not counting priests). And we both know only a little. But that's enough for us. And if you must know, we both have no particular liking for it.

Now, that's not to say we don't see the need for it in the Church. Surely we do. Sometimes the crows have to be beaten back after all, and sincere questions answered. It's just that most of us laypeople are called to love God and our neighbor only, not theology per se. Yes, surely there are some who are called to it. They are mostly the bona fide ones who, being theologically informed, reflect and write on the challenges and errors of the times; and it eventually falls as crusts of bread to us laymen and laywomen. And we can be grateful for that.

As for lay polemical theology online, ugh... with a precious few exceptions(2) I find most of it sheer misery; sometimes outright madhouses of the proud, theologically deranged. On par with the neo-modernist's in effect. I had my full of theological knots. It is little wonder that most spiritual persons have no appetite for it.

Question: How many laymen does it take to screw up someone's head and spiritual life? Answer: Not many at all. Truly, it's enough to make some flee the Way altogether I fear, if they were sorry enough to confuse this kind of lay Internet theology with that Way.

"Faith comes by hearing the Word," St. Paul said. Hearing? What did they ever do without the Internet? Or in the days before every layman online thought he could solve all the problems raging in the Church?

They trusted, they trusted the Lord Himself to work things out, and went about their daily lives. And all these centuries and millenia later, God never failed.

"Come to me all you who labor and are heavily burdened and I will give you rest...This is My Body, This is My Blood, Do this...Son, Behold your Mother...Blessed are the meek...Do not steal or covet...Flee fornication...Strive for peace with all men...Give and it shall be given unto you...I was in prison and you visited me...Love one another"

Wondrous, simple, Words of the Master. So easily understood, so nourishing.

The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a' Kempis is full of admonition to 'keep it simple,' and to ignore most of the noisy theo-logs. With the Gospels it was all St. Therese of Lisieux ever read; and probably not but in measured doses to ensure reflection.

"If I knew all things in the world and had not charity, what would it profit me before God Who will judge me by my deeds? Shun too great a desire for knowledge, for in it there is much fretting and delusion. Intellectuals like to appear learned and to be called wise. Yet there are many things the knowledge of which does little or no good to the soul."-- Bk 1, ch2
Life is hard enough. We need nourishment, spiritual food, not amateur tirades about food. We need the Eucharist, not verbal jousts and substitutes. We need the words that will never pass away. And we need a little good recreation where we can save the best wine for last, like at Cana. They knew how to live.

(1) "An Egyptian ascetic on the Nitrian mountain, Abba Pambo (d. 374 AD) was a contemporary of St. Anthony the Great and himself great in monastic asceticism. Born about A.D. 303, he was one of the first to join Amoun in Nitria...He entered into rest in the Lord in the year 374"

Note / update: It occurred to me later that the above can be misunderstood. I almost scrapped it. I'm not talking about all theologically-informed lay writers, certainly not those I link to or feature here precisely because I appreciate them, sometimes enormously; I'm referring rather to those lay "theologians" who appear to live by and for constant polemics.

(2) I think someone like G.K. Chesterton was so marvelous because while he knew as much or more theology and philosophy than any layman of his (or any) time it was not as a lay theologian that he presented himself or engaged the errors of his day. It was rather through a common sense deeply informed by the whole tradition of the Church. He seldom if ever engaged in polemics with other Catholics along theological lines. He knew what to savor and what to ignore. His big nets were directed to those still on the other side of discipleship. And he's still making big catches! What could the Internet chatrooms have added to his haul? The lay writers I appreciate most are those who reflect faithfully on the meaning of the Gospel vis a vis the challenging times we are living in.

--->Evangelism, not Social Networking. Benedict's Reflections on Facebook...

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding"---Prov. 3:5-6 [This Post Updated 2x]

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