Friday, November 23, 2007

Come apart into a desert place, and rest a little

Sometimes we can be too restless, even in the practice of religion, that we end up not doing anything at all. We are too busy theologizing, arguing, apologizing, party lining, bitching, whining and even thinking about too much that there can be a real danger of adapting--nay, conforming-- our religious lives to our secular lives. Of course, ultimately, one has only one life to live, and it is understandable when these two spheres occasionally collide with each other.

The problem I see with this is that religion basically becomes a hobby. We argue it, fight for it, debate it, bitch about it, but hardly practice it. I guess, with the arrival of the internet, this tendency has been more especially pronounced than before. Nowadays it is so easy to come across religious polemics, both pro and against it, that I sometimes have to wonder if being religious today is just another fad. We have many Catholics who know the minutiae of papal ceremonial, for example, but can't stand a simple roadside shrine Mass. We have so-called traditionalists who seem to exist for the sole purpose of criticizing everything that the Pope says or does, and we have even worse progressives who think they are the only people in the Church who constitute a valid voice, and who are seemingly more concerned with the cosmetic facets of the Mystical Body (actually, I think both sides are guilty of this) than its preservation.

There is a very real danger here of arrogating the Church-- and ultimate Its Head, Jesus Himself-- exclusively to oneself. Somehow, there seems to be a growing, if cryptic, trend that is slowly equating religiosity with being a busy-body. Nowadays, to be a 'true' Catholic, one must have a certain set of politics and ideal world view, all wrapped up and packaged with a shiny, red bow; or you can just as easily swing to the other side, and claim that being a 'true' Catholic means an almost exclusive devotion to issues of social justice and diversity and acceptance. Both speak of the arrogance of our age; we are all too busy of thinking of ourselves as the evolutionary apex of Catholicism that we too often forgot our own humanity-- and consequently, that we, too, are sinners.

For all it's worth, the picture above is, quite simply, sublime. In prayer, in bended knees and folded hands, the world rests; a fragile world, resting on fragile hands, taking in the whispered breaths and voiceless sighs of equally fragile men and women. Prayer gives peace to the soul. Prayer reveals the sweet face of Christ. If there is anything we need to pay more attention to, it is prayer-- and to learn how to pray, we must first shut up.


Rita said...

Thank you.

You are right about the picture, where did you get it from?

Archistrategos said...

I found it via Flickr, from a very talented photographer in Valladolid in Spain.

Here is the link to his photo site: