Monday, 16 November 2015

Family (2)

What do you do if a family member turns away from the family and decides they no longer belong?  Do you still love them? Yes.  Will you still stand up for them if they are in trouble?  Of course you do.  You show them love in the hope that they recognise the source of this love and "come home".  You will not cast them into the desert, order them never to return and hope they die.

Now what if you had not been a very good example as a parent, if your teaching and love had been less than perfect, if through your lack of love you had left a void into which that child had wandered.  What if your child had found in this void a "new" creation, something fascinating and energising and had embraced it? What if your child had found more love there (or something that felt more like love) than you had shown it?  I think you'd still love that child, and accept some of the responsibility for its decisions.  I think you may actually find that child more beautiful for being so bold and indeed that child may actually teach you much about love and the Truth through their journey. No amount of arguing over words, laws, teachings will bring them back.  Only silent, gentle love can do that.

The paragraph above describes Protestants of all shapes and sizes.  They are children of the Roman Church.  They filled a void created by our poor teaching, our lack of love and our poor examples. They embraced heresies that were already there.  Nothing is new under the sun.  There are contained within this the good, the bad and the ugly; for every Westbro Baptist, there is a Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I wish to argue that in a similar way, Islam is the child of the Universal Church.  I'd like to argue for her beauty, her learning, her boldness.  I'd like to argue that I've seen more "fellow travellers" amongst my Muslim friends than amongst my Catholic acquaintances.  There is a hunger and thirst for God.  There is a love of man and a spontaneous charity that puts most of us to shame.  Good Muslims humble me, shame me, they are so profoundly gentle, reasonable and totally God centred. In ordinary everyday Islam, you are more likely to see beautiful demonstrations of chaste love between married couples, you are more likely to see generosity and warmth of spirit, you are more likely to see sincere demonstrations of the love of God.  My late friend and dear parish priest would only ever go on holiday in Islamic countries and he'd say with a twinkle in his eyes "I loathe Catholics, why would I want to holiday with Catholics".  I know exactly what he means.  Some of us have a tendency to love all the more the child who has rebelled, to seek the good in that child, some of us find the child who has stayed at home a bit dull.  The child who has stayed at home needs shaking up, needs to feel the blood coursing through its veins, needs to grow up. The Church is Mother and she has no room for spoilt, lazy brats.

So I am arguing that our Muslim brothers need our support and prayers right now and most of all our love. I will repeat till my dying breath: Islam is not the enemy. Islam is in trouble because like western Christianity many of its followers, through western secular eduaction and immersion in that culture have an Elightenment mind-set that tries to box-in God; all transendence, all beauty, all that is numinous is ignored.  The angry young men and women of IS are Nihilists, they are more of a product of western philosophy and politics than they are of the Koran.The cancer that threatens to consume Islam is also there in Christianity, we must deal with the cancer and not let the patients die.

Granted, the Devil is alive and well and has been enjoying himself in Paris recently.  I think he is revisiting his old haunts where he's had such success in the past, and Paris was the scene of some of his finest moments during the Revolution.  He is particularly fond of Europe.  But he is not where you think he is.  He is dining with the rich and famous, he is eating at all the best restaurants, he loves high culture and fine clothes and he is using all the prettiest boys.  His aim is the destruction of all religion.  His aim is that humanity throws out the Infant with the bathwater.  And he will succeed unless we love and unless we behave like Christ.  And to do that we have to fail; we will be strung up, beaten, ridiculed and nailed to trees, but we have no choice.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Mercy me!

Perhaps "Mercy" is currently "on trend", here is Michael Gove talking about mercy and other things (and making sense) to those nice people at the Howard League for Penal Reform. Good words... Sincerity? Who knows....

File:Michael Gove at Policy Exchange delivering his keynote speech 'The Importance of Teaching'.jpg. Uploaded to creative commons Dec 2013
Actually, I have to admit that I thought he was one of the better Education Secretaries we've had, I am not actually seething about something he did (unlike Estelle Morris for example)... I must be losing the plot....

And just in case you are reaching for the smelling salts... here are some good Catholic words on Mercy from Bl Columba Marmion

Our miseries are very real; our weaknesses, our limitations, we know them well enough, but God knows them better than we do.  And the sense of our frailty -recognised and avowed - honours God.  And why so? Because there is in God one perfection wherein He wills to be eternally glorified, a perfection which is perhaps the key of all that befalls us here below; it is mercy.  Mercy is love in the face of misery; if there was no misery, there would be no mercy. The angels declare God's  holiness; but as for us, we shall be in heaven the living witnesses of the divine mercy; in crowning our works, God crowns the gift of His mercy, and it is this mercy that we shall exalt during all eternity in the bosom of our beatitude.

How different (yet not exactly so) divine mercy is from earthly mercy, and how necessary both are.  In both cases we have to know how much in need of it we are, otherwise it cannot be effective .....