by Monsignor Thomas Wells, Our Lady of Lourdes Church, Bethesda, Maryland.
As we look at these new office or apartment buildings go up in Bethesda, there is a sameness in their construction. Foundations are dug; shoring is put in the hole, concrete is poured, structural steel is erected and so on. Obviously, every phase of the job is integrated with the others. We will never see the northeast corner be raised to roof level while on the southeast concrete is laid at the lobby level. The landscaping does not go in while trucks are still delivering scaffolding to be used by bricklayers. Like the construction of a building, life, too, should be integrated.
So much has happened in Church and society in these last thirty years. In the Church, Vatican II, with its invitations to look at aspects of the faith from different perspectives; the sexual revolution within the larger society (and the ramifications of that which so absorb us today); and the ramifications of philosophical subjectivism that encourage us to look at decisions from the point of view of how I feel about them and how they affect me, rather than from a point of view of objective and unchanging truth. People of good will trying to cope with these and other developments have understandably lost perspective in trying to erect, if you will, the moral and spiritual building of life.
Some hear the Church speak of an option for the poor and take this so seriously that much effort is expended denouncing the rich; others fear that the Church is abandoning devotion to the Mother of God and they go about measuring priests by their supposed faithfulness to apparitions of Our Lady. People come into a new area and go on shopping expeditions for just the right parish, where either the liturgy is "relevant" or sermons are "orthodox". All of these pursuits spring from valid perceptions of some aspect of Catholic life; but, sometimes, the perspective becomes skewed and the spiritual life is lived and judged much too narrowly. Where lies right and wrong on each issue? It is awfully hard to say. But, one thing is for sure, where there is anger in an individual, there is danger.
Listen to the Church and listen to Scripture, the book of the Church: and try, as best we can, to listen to all that is said, not only those things with which I am most comfortable. The human body, like those new buildings, grows with balance - everything developing at once, according to its natural schedule. So, with the spiritual life, we must beg the Holy Spirit to grow within us according to the plan of God, and not according to our shortsighted vision, that sees only small parts at one time.
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