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Olathe, Kansas
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It's interesting to see that two lawyers have been most provoked by this judgment. Lawyers are like modern knights, fighting under one banner or another. Christian lawyers risk their career and their professional reputation if they fight for the common good as the Church teaches. ND conferring a Catholic law degree on President Obama would be like naming Frederick II the title Defender of the Faith. I would like to say that the honorary law degree means nothing, because in fact its meaning is ambiguous. But I don't know if I can do this without reducing every university degree to a piece of paper... and yet - this problem is not new. Isn't the same thing true about the honorary doctorates ND awarded to Presidents Carter and GW Bush? Is it too much to expect these honors to be a clear gesture of an education as an introduction to all of reality? I can't solve these issues: they are matters too great for me. I will say that the judgment in this flyer has changed my perspective. I realize that if I expect ND's gestures to be clear proposals then my gestures also need to be clear. I am disappointed, but this disappointment does not determine my response. What do I want? I want a serious education that treasures whatever sliver of good it can find. I want Christ. The political wrangling is not a clear gesture. It does not cultivate the Christian experience. It accepts the default position that power is what saves us. Forcing ND to tow the line will not make it more Catholic, more Christian. For that, we need Christians.
I've wrestled a bit with whether LC has a charism, but frankly I don't know enough about Maciel's writings or the formation of members. Also, I remember that discernment is a pastoral task for the Church, and will take grace, time, prayer, penance, humility, honesty, and work. As for whether a charism is there, I have to admit that these are "things too sublime for me" (or see Acts 5:38-39). A charism after all is a spiritual gift, specifically a prophetic gift, which makes present Jesus Christ in a way that moves people in a particular circumstance. And yet charisms do come through people, and the lack of transparency of an individual can stunt the expression of the charism. There are certainly people in the world who have had authentic visions but lack the humility, honesty, education, and transparency to communicate it well. There are also people who build up for themselves a reputation for holiness without really moving anybody. It is also possible to cobble together a few ideas in such a way that it seems to be an original way of living the Christian life, but in the end goes nowhere. Certainly, not every founder of a religious order is a saint, even if most had charisms. And not every or pope is a saint either even though every pope has a spiritual gift for the sake of the Church. In the end, I have to put myself in the position of a member of LC/RC, someone who has dedicated his life to following Jesus in these movements. When I listen to the two priests in the EWTN video, I sympathize with their desire to retain the good.
Few theologians have reflected as broadly and deeply as Hans Urs von Balthasar on the mission and charisms of ecclesial movements. Below are a couple of salient points Angelo Scola's 1986 interview with him, published by Ignatius Press under the title Test Everything: Hold Fast to What is Good. "the ecclesial radiance of a person extends as far as his (accomplished) mission. Seen from that angle, Mary's mission radiates throughout the whole Church (the image of the "protective mantle" expresses this symbolically), and analogous to this, other charisms radiate across vast spaces of the Church. Remember Saint Francis, who not only radiates throughout the orders which live through its mission, but beyond that, all "franciscan" souls. Saint Francis is not an idea, but a reality" (82-83). "The Holy Spirit may suddenly illuminate parts of revelation that have always been there, but have not been sufficiently reflected upon. The history of the Church confirms this. Before Saint Francis, no one had thought so deeply about the poverty of Christ. This poverty is not a secondary consideration but a new access to the center" (88-89). The charisms above are profoundly rooted in persons whose transparency witnesses to Jesus Christ anew for different times and circumstances. As Germain Grisez has written: "But even after the death of an institute’s saintly founder, its members’ service and life continue as cooperation with him or her." A charism is not an idea but a person whose witness to Christ generates a movement of people.
Toggle Commented Feb 9, 2009 on The Legion charism at life-after-RC
I'm not surprised. Personal prelature is not exactly a common or typical form of the Church, and it raises certain questions about the traditional role of bishops.