Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Asking or Telling God?

From Sacred Miscellany:

"What are we asking for? Another liturgical ephiphany this morning during the "Prayer of the Faithful" I noticed that a great many of the prayers involved telling God what other people should do -- international leaders, local government officials, "our parish community" (whoever that's supposed to be), etc.

This was an unfortunate contrast to the litanies of the Eastern Church. There you ask for peace, good weather, foregivness of sins, a happy (and not too violent) death. You also ask God to watch over various people, but you don't get specific about how He should influence him. "

A side note...the editor of my book The Power of the Cross entered "faith community" to replace certian references I had to the church. I changed all of these back to my original. I despise the word "faith community" because it is totally horizontal. The Church Militant may be a faith community but part of the Church lives in glory. Those catechized in the past thirty years tend to view the church as just "us" and forget that the Body of Christ is made up of the Son of God among others both visible and invisible when we gather. Blame church architecture and design for cutting out two-thirds of the Church, who at least used to be there artistically to remind us that it isn't just about us!


  1. Ditto with "faith community." I know of a parish whose entrance sign describes it as "a Catholic Community." I grit my teeth every time I see it; to me the implication is that it's the people, not God, that is fundamental there.

  2. That we be delivered from and not subject to all such p.c., overly topical, agenda-driven, ax-grinding, pony-tailed, guitar-strumming, kumbaya-eque, jargonistic inanities,

    We pray to the Lord.

    Hear us O Lord.

    John Heavrin

  3. I'd like to scrap the term "community" and we can get rid of "parish" too, if necessary. I see "St. Martin of Tours Roman Catholic Church" on the sign when I go to my church, and I think that works best.

    John Heavrin

  4. Peace Todd!

    I disagree with you entirely. It those of us on earth that live by faith, not the blessed in Heaven, nor those in the purgative state. Community is a mistranslation of "Communio" which is best translated Communion and immediately makes one think of Holy Communion with God.

    Those who use "faith community" do so with no sense of the Blessed or Poor Souls, to say that they do is just being dishonest. The Church is much bigger than "us" and is much bigger than the "local" community. There is nothing I despise more than being treated like I'm a visitor when I attend a Catholic Church in a different city...I'm never a stranger in a Catholic Church...I belong.


  5. Peace, Michael.

    We agree to disagree, then. When I think of any of these terms: parish, church, faith community, domestic church, Church, Communion, etc., I'm aware they all fail in being a complete and absolute descriptor of the reality. If I type "faith community" in a context, it often is a reference to the parish or religious community. If I'm composing a prayer for increased spiritual fervor or more vocations, for example, I concede I'm mainly thinking and writing of the "horizontal" plane and the mortal beings who inhabit it. But in no way do I see "faith community" as naturally or automatically exclusive of the Communion of Saints. I think you're being a little fussy about it, especially since you personally don't have to use the term. And if your editor has a problem, try a compromise.

  6. Not fussy. The Communion of Saints is not living by "faith," we poor slobs are. They see, what we believe.

    The horizontal way in which some liturgist have interpreted the Second Vatican Council is exactly what has harmed the very good renewal of the liturgy.

    It's like putting the choir in front of the church, arguing that this is the traditional place for a choir (meaning monastic choir). Fine, then have the choir face each other rather than the congregtion, so that the focus of their song is worship of God rather than the approval of the congregation.

  7. Todd, if you think of a prayer for vocations as a "horizontal" matter, it's no wonder we're not getting vocations. Prayers of any kind must go up, must they not? That seems to me to be "vertical," whether the prayer is private or public, individual or collective.

    And your logic seems to be that since no word gets it absolutely right, there's no basis to prefer one over the other. Nice try, but I don't buy it.

    I also think "editing" like this is questionable at the least, because Michael's choice of words should be his own. That's regardless of where one stands on this or any other "issue," in my view.

    John Heavrin

  8. Peace, John.

    "... if you think of a prayer for vocations as a "horizontal" matter, it's no wonder we're not getting vocations."

    Actually, I don't and I don't see why you would assume I did.

    "Prayers of any kind must go up, must they not?"

    Indeed. And even prayers for a "faith community" will go up.

    "And your logic seems to be that since no word gets it absolutely right, there's no basis to prefer one over the other."

    Nope. My logic is not to criticize any particular word which can be assumed in good faith to fit some of most of the intended understanding. As you say, nice try.

    "I also think "editing" like this is questionable ..."

    I agree with you and Michael on that point, having been the "victim" of an editor or two in my time. The worst I can say about "faith community" is when it is used as a tool of oppression. But that doesn't reflect on the term itself.


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