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The Miracle of the Universe
Where do I stand…?
Fr. Christopher Fox, MHM
Price € 12.00
About the Book:
The Greek philosopher Socrates once said that the unexamined life is not worth living. As I approach my ninetieth birthday it is a good time to look back over the years and the changes in my own life and in the Church and how these affect one’s journey through life.
I grew up in the thirties and forties in rural Ireland. My parents were devout Catholics and obviously their influence was paramount in shaping my formation. We got by on a modest farm but we all had to play our part in the many chores entailed. I still have vivid memories of picking potatoes on a cold morning with numbing fingers. There was a good community spirit. Neighbours would drop by in the evening and exchange local gossip. Newspapers were rarely seen. The family rosary was routine. There was no crime. We never locked the door of the house when we went to Mass on Sunday
Religion came to us clothed in the garments of penance. Preparation for First Holy Communion and for Confirmation was not a joyful experience with too much emphasis on obligation rather than celebration, with fear of God more stressed than love of God. Later on when studying moral theology in the Seminary sin and obligation were dominant factors. The multiplication of mortal and venial sins would do justice to any rigid Pharisee.
As a young priest I greatly welcomed the changes that took place after the second Vatican Council. We discovered the spirituality of Easter, the goodness of all creation and the importance of secular values. We added the 15th station, the Resurrection, to the way of the Cross. Black vestments were left in the drawer. Dies Irae, a hymn about the wrathful judgement of God was heard no more. Many imposed penances were removed to give people more responsibility about what was suitable for them. The good news of the Gospel was emphasised. In prayer we were encouraged to make the longest journey, from the head to the heart. Revelation was seen not just as God revealing to us what to believe and how to act, but rather as communion with a loving God sharing divine life with us. Faith was understood not just as intellectual belief in God but should be experienced as a loving trust in God whom we dare to call Abba, Father.
As I write these words, early in 2021 with corona-virus dominant the future looks challenging for society as a whole and for the Church. What is God saying to us by this epidemic? For some it is a sign that God does not exist. For many it is a reminder how dependent we are on circumstances beyond our control. Thank God medical science is making good progress fighting the disease but it will take a long time.
How will the Church fare when it is all over? It is very hard to predict. In addition to facing up to the challenge of getting people to attend church regularly, it has to bear the burden of past scandals, such as clerical sexual abuse and more recently the mother and child revelations when unmarried mothers and their babies were treated in a most unchristian way and so many babies were left to die without care and buried in unmarked graves. Unmarried mothers were denounced from the altar. Reading about that whole scandal now fills me with anger and revulsion.
Yet I believe that the Church will be saved by good women and men, by dedicated priests and religious and by courageous leadership. It will be purified and chastened by this desert experience and we should remember that it was in the desert that God revealed Himself to the Israelites, purified them and made them His people.