Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 27, 2004
Church - - a sanctuary for our brokenness
By FR. RON ROLHEISER, omi
Western society is, in large measure, despondent and suffering from every kind of brokenness.
Beyond this, we are grieving a painful division within the Church and society. I doubt there has been a time since the Reformation that the Church has been so painfully polarized and emotionally divided. In many places, in fact, we have two emotional communities, so divided are we by ecclesiology, theology, ideology and spirituality. We live in an emotional apartheid, separated by ideology and ecclesiology just as surely and rigidly as if this was mandated by law. Such is the Church today and such too is society today. We are a deeply divided community.
Division of course is not new. Christ said that he would bring fire to the earth and that this would divide people from each other. His promise has held true, except that today the division is not between the sincere and the insincere, the good and the bad, the committed and the non-committed. Today, too often, the sincere are divided from the sincere, the good from the good, the committed from the committed.
When good people can no longer be in community with each other and can no longer even speak respectfully with each other, the result is always sadness and anger (and anger is just another form of sadness). Small wonder that our churches and communities are not always happy places.
Beyond our internal divisions, we are too grieving a lost child, our child, secularity. Perhaps this can best be explained in an image: Western culture is to us, the Church, much like an adolescent child is to its parents. We gave it birth, helped raise it, and now, with a fierceness and anger that do not seem justifiable, it is asserting its independence from us, accusing us of being bad parents, and claiming it can find life only by moving away from us.
Like parents we too fear for its safety even as we envy its youth, confidence, power, and daring and resent its independence. Like parents, we feel a certain sadness. The child has left home, rejecting many of our cherished values in that leave-taking. It is slipping away from us, daily becoming more post-ecclesial. To not feel a sadness about this is to lack in sensitivity and love.
Finally, we are grieving as well the grief of our people, our world. Western society is, in large measure, despondent and suffering from every kind of brokenness.
Wholeness, it seems, is no longer the rule. More and more it's the exception for someone to not come from a broken home, a broken marriage, a series of broken relationships, and an abusive background of some sort. We're a society of the wounded, we bring this to our churches, and this colours Church life. The tensions and sadness inside the Church reflect the tensions and sadness inside society as a whole.
So perhaps one of the important forms of sanctuary that the Church can offer the world today is that of being a safe place where you can come and be sad.
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.