The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Flannery O'Connor on the Future of the Church

A few days ago I included a long quote from a book Pope Benedict XVI wrote long before he was pope [See this post: October 18]. In it Pope Benedict gives his vision of what the Church of the future will be like.

Yesterday evening, as I was writing my homily for this morning's Mass, I found myself looking through a book of Flannery O'Connor's letters. I was searching for a comment she had made in a letter to a friend in which she described her almost lifelong battle with lupus. I eventually located it, but during my search came across something she had written to a Protestant friend that addresses her vision of the Catholic Church's future:

"I don't believe that if God intends for the world to be spared He'll have to lead a few select people into the wilderness to start things over again. I think that what He began when Moses and the children of Israel left Egypt continues today in the Church and is meant to continue that way. And I believe all this is accomplished in the presence of Christ in history and not with select people but with very ordinary ones -- as ordinary as the vacillating children of Israel and the fishermen apostles. This comes from a different conception of the Church than yours. For us the Church is the Body of Christ. Christ continuing in time, and as such a divine institution. The Protestant considers this idolatry. If the Church is not a divine institution, it will turn into an Elks Club..." [The Habit of Being, p. 337].
I've always liked this comment because it depicts God working through ordinary folks like you and me. We are sinners in the midst of conversion being led by God who offers us hope. And it is through His Church, the Body of Christ, that we can, like Moses and the chosen ones of Israel, enter the Promised Land.

If you haven't read Flannery O'Connor's fiction, you've missed something wonderful. Get a copy of her collected works (Flannery O'Connor: Collected Works -- Its a Library of America volume) and enjoy these unique short stories and novels.

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