Friday, August 28, 2015
Lucky Looks and Faith
I am no Medje fan, I think Medjugorje is a fraud but nevertheless I am not entirely gleeful that there are reports that the number of Italians who have visited the Croation 'shrine' this year has fallen 'drastically', the pundits suggest the reason is the uncertainty the imminent Vatican judgement is bringing to the minds of pilgrims. If they are not 'Medjing" are they actually doing anything?
My concern is that 'faith' for many is not exactly ecclesial or sacramental, rather like some who go to Lourdes with a particular pilgrimage but never attend Mass at home, or those have a great devotion to particular saint but not much to Christ, or those in Southern Europe or Germany (where they still exist) have a great devotion to a particular confraternity but would never have anything to do with their parish Church. The English equivalent are those who would drink in the Catholic club or go to the Catholic school as markers of Catholic identity.
Friends who live in the Borgo Pio area very close to St Peter's which used to be jammed packed on Wednesdays at the beginning of his Papacy used to complain about the type of people who wanted a glimpse of the Pope Francis 'they seem to have no understanding of Catholicism', they were people who wanted a 'lucky look' at the Pope. Apparently they would pass around children who managed to get a touch', or more wonderfully a kiss being passed around to be touched by 'Scicillians' or 'gypsies' so they might have a share in whatever 'luck' had been acquired. I remember an Irish woman saying to me at the exposition of the relic of St Therese at at Aylesford that she was there 'for luck for my family'.
Faith for some of us is a highly complex edifice a mixture of revelation, philosophy, world view, trust etc., for some faith, and about which most of us 'churchy' inheritors of the 'Liturgical Movement' Catholics tend to be a bit sniffy, is not very distinct from superstition, sometimes it might be 'pious superstition' but it is still superstition. In the past we thought superstition was at least the beginning of 'faith', that it could be developed, 'moved beyond' to something else. We could talk about a 'pious instinct', rather like those people who came to Jesus for healing, or to see a miracle but stayed to wonder, and to hear, and then to truly believe. God doesn't despise the 'lucky' look or touch or kiss and maybe at the root of all faith is a desire for something we cannot define, where instinct, a deeper sense, intuition lead the mind.
An untutored palate either does or does not like wine or beer, later we learn to discriminate and can become quite sophisticated in our tastes, the problem is that when someone says a particular wine is poisoned, then the unsophisticated spit out all wine whilst the discerning simply avoid the problematic vintage.
Posted by Fr Ray Blake