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So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter.—2 Thessalonians 2:15

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Allure of Authenticity

All people are drawn to authenticity. That is, authentic relationships or encounters of various kinds.

Sure, people make lousy choices which often result in painful detours. Said detours tend to result in an unavoidable hindsight which affirms the primacy of authenticity.

What draws people to the Mass and the Church: entertainment or distraction from a mundane life? community? the opportunity to engage or witness something different? desperation? self-help information?

Whether people know it or not, they seek a mystery—the Mystery. True mystery is the reality of the authentic Presence of the Lord.

Mystery is not a puzzle to be solved nor an evasion of a question. Mystery is the poetry of reality that exceeds our comprehension at any given time yet relentlessly nags at our imagination. Mystery recedes away from us as the horizon so does, enticing us toward the light of dawn or into the "cloud of unknowing". Mystery is the horizon upon which rests our attention that, if we imagine mystery to be a wall, we tumble off when the winds of frustrated rationalism blow against us.

Mystery is best revealed when the Mass is woven together with the threads of truth, beauty and goodness. Masses which are bereft of mystery are replete with misery. In such a liturgy, the mind becomes satisfied with itself and seeks nothing further. Is it any wonder that many Ordinary Form liturgies are characterized by the congregation closed in upon itself and the Mystery of Faith, for example, is only given a passing nod (e.g., the Mysterium Fidei chant) and is mostly overshadowed by sad attempts to entertain to engage the congregation?

Most people sense they need something, or someone. They quest for the wrong thing or person because their judgement is clouded by materialism, and/or hedonism, relativism or any of the other prismatic "isms" which filter out the Truth and replace it with trite self-help aphorISMS.

For the modern ism-matic, there is no "absolute" in which man can be immersed and purified of the obstacles which prevent him from finding true and lasting peace.

Many people these days fear the absolute, or absolutes because they fear what others tell them to fear. People with unresolved adolescent experiences which are often childish grudges, tend to project their anger on to the Church. Sure, there are folk with legitimate grievances: survivors of sexual abuse, for example. Others, however, suffer from hurt feelings because a priest or catechist or another churchy person spoke harsh words to them. Get over it.

Too often we hear of lapsed Catholics condemning Church teaching on sexuality.  These same folk, having subjected their lives to their personal sexual truth, are often living broken lives. Lives, one might add, broken by their very own personal ideological authoritarianism.

Authoritarianism is what most people assume they have met when they encounter the authoritative. To borrow an insight from educational psychology, the authoritarian teacher or parent has high demands or expectations but provides little or no support to a student or child. The authoritative teacher or parent, by contrast, has high expectations but also provides support and encouragement to his or her student or child to achieve what is best for the child.

The Church is viewed as authoritarian by individuals who have tossed their moral compass into the me-first river and who have little or no appreciation for authority other than their own. Said folk hold themselves up as the measure of authority which, ironically, looks like the authoritarianism they claim to loathe.

Holy Mother Church is our authentic mother, the authoritative voice of Jesus Christ in this world. She can hold herself up as such because she has been given authority by Christ so to do. Jesus Christ in and through Holy Mother Church provides the support and encouragement to souls to attain holiness. That support is most beautifully found in the Sacraments. Jesus gives grace in and through the Sacraments to enable us to enter through the narrow gate.

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"A multitude of wise men is the salvation of the world(.)—Wisdom 6:24. Readers are welcome to make rational and responsible comments. Any comment that 1) offends human dignity and/or 2) which constitutes an irrational attack on the Catholic Faith will not go unchallenged. If deemed completely stupid, such a comment will most assuredly not see the light of day. Them's the rules. Don't like 'em? Move on.

We are not just material beings, but spiritual persons with a need for meaning, purpose, and fulfillment that transcends the visible confines of this world. This longing for transcendence is a longing for truth, goodness, and beauty. Truth, goodness, and beauty are called the transcendentals of being, because they are aspects of being. Everything in existence has these transcendentals to some extent. God, of course, as the source of all truth, goodness, and beauty, has these transcendentals to an infinite degree. Oftentimes, He draws us to Himself primarily through one of these transcendentals. St. Augustine, who was drawn to beauty in all its creaturely forms, found the ultimate beauty he was seeking in God, his creator, the beauty “ever ancient, ever new.”―Sister Gabriella Yi, O.P.