I happened to notice this article today on John Michael Talbot's Reflections page, MAINTAINING THE STATUS QUO: Catholic Worship: Endured or Inspired? I've always preferred Talbot as a writer than as a singer and musician. I thought I'd post some excerpts from it that I liked. It's mostly about liturgical renewal, but with a broader theme about living out a commitment and a witness.
Left, Right, or Radical?
Today in the Catholic Church there is a liberal left experiment that has lost its momentum. This has mainly to do with sex and gender issues. Will simply opening up the flood gates of modern morality set us free? Sociology and psychology used to think so, but nowadays would say not.
There is also a far right reaction that is nearly obsessed with orthodoxy, whereby they think that the reestablishment of Latin masses, strong clericalism, devotionalism, and the like will solve all of the Church's ills. Some? Maybe. All? Not likely. People need fundamentals, but fundamentalism seldom works, even when it comes in Catholic clothing.
But there is also a huge middle ground made up of average folks who love God, the Church and the world in which we live, and are just trying to get by in the rat race of modern American living without too many casualties. They constitute a huge Catholic "silent majority" that form the authentic "sense fidelis," or sense of the faithful that is one important contingent in the teaching authority of the Church. This is where the Faith really lives, where our spiritual "rubber meets the road," and it is here that we can find our greatest hope. The problem with the latter is that we are often the very status quo that needs to be changed. In order for this group to be effective we must be radical, but not fanatical. We avoid becoming obsessed with the fanatical fringe, but are completely radical, or rooted deeply in the core of the gospel of Jesus and the balanced teaching of the Church.
While the Catholic "silent majority" constitutes the theological balance between the right and left extremes, it can also be the biggest part of the "lifestyle heresy" that so plagues western civilization. I am referring to the heresy of individualism, and all that goes out from it: consumerism, materialism, hedonism, and the like. The evidence of the failure of this heresy is all around us. Global warming from environmental abuse threatens the delicate balance of the earth's current eco system. War across the planet is due to the many who have the little rising up against the few who have the much. Sexual immorality and the breakdown of the nuclear family threaten the very social fabric of civilization as we know it. The so called "high-tech high-touch" computer revolution has created an entire generation of people who have access to great knowledge, but attain little wisdom. Able to access and communicate with thousands and millions at a time, many cannot carry on authentic human relationships with much success. It has not made us more human. It has made us more machine-like in the long run. Are computers bad? No. I write this on a laptop, and send it out via the internet. But we are not yet using them successfully.
How many of you reading this right now are willing to flee this sinking ship of modern society? Traditionally this call has gone forth from monks, and hundreds of thousands have responded without computers or mass media. Will you respond today? How many will give up possessions and control to find the greatest wealth known on earth or in heaven? How many who are single will embrace only Christ as your spouse in celibate chastity, and so bring salvation to the entire world? How many will give up superficial freedom to embrace the deeper freedom from your false self through obedience to a Rule and a spiritual father or mother in Christ? How many will venture into the solitude to find your true spiritual home, silence to find your true voice, and self-renunciation to find your true self in Christ? How many will give up all to gain everything?
Awaken the Sleeping Giant
Should this mediocrity and lukewarmness be tolerated? Certainly not! This is true especially within oneself, but also within one's church home, be it parish or monastery. Why can't we have great music ministries, great preaching, and creative use of the talents within our clergy and parishioners? We can if we will but act. Most desire it. A few are willing to sacrifice and risk in order to achieve it. Does it take courage? You bet it does. Will we be rejected by some? Almost certainly so. But that is no excuse to just fall back into our personal safety zones and just float through our spiritual life in a malaise of mediocrity or lethargic lukewarmness.
So I say to the Church-- I shout it from the housetop of my hermitage: Awaken! Popes, bishops, clergy, religious, and lay people: Awaken! Dare to dream again. Dare to change, to be renewed and reformed personally within your own life. Only then can we bring authentic renewal and reform to the Church or to the world. Dare to really rise up and follow Christ as His disciple. The majority of Catholics make up a giant unified population in our nation, and upon the earth. We are a sleeping giant. Will we allow the sleeping giant to awaken? As scripture says, "Awake, O sleeper! Today is the day of salvation…if today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts." It is time to awaken the sleeping giant. It is time to rise. It is time to believe again.