Hungry for More? Letter One
We no longer live in a culture of dialogue but assertion. We talk over each other and do not know how to listen. We got to this place by no longer being able to think our way through issues but rather, by emoting. We despair of any common truth that can become a ground for dialogue for the very reason that we assert that there is no objective truth. Anger and downright hostility quickly settle into many conversations that have to do with things that really matter. Who wants to discuss sensitive issues in this climate?
We as a church community must find common ground to go forward. For us, this common ground must be Jesus Christ Himself who proclaimed Himself to be the way, the truth, and the life. If we can embrace Jesus together, we have an excellent path toward a fruitful dialogue. Truth is located in a person, Jesus Christ, who, when we are in a vital relationship with Him, offers us the most vital relationship with truth.
According to St. John of the Cross, a doctor of the Church, there are five things we must do to move forward together. I will only present you with the first:
First, have a habitual desire to imitate Christ in all your deeds by bringing your life into conformity with his. You must then study his life in order to know how to imitate him and behave in all events as he would.
The Ascent of Mount Carmel, Chapter 13.3
Often, we read or listen to the Gospels passively, or to gain some comfort, or some insight. St. John of the Cross tells us that we must read the Gospels with a specific intention to be in vital union with Christ, and thereby imitate and behave like Him. This takes the application of our whole being toward a specific goal, to be like Christ in all things. In our letter the challenge for us is to think like Jesus, to possess the compassion of Jesus, and to be obedient to the Father as Jesus. If we are in vital union with Jesus, the Truth, we will think, feel, and act increasingly more like Jesus.
If we are committed to this, then we have common ground to continue with our dialogue on sexual morality. It will be challenging for us all, because we all need to conform ourselves to Christ, and this is the hardest thing for us to do in life.
For further reading on this radical call to discipleship as a common ground for discussion, see Archbishop Lori’s A Light Brightly Visible 2.0 on the Archdiocesan website.
Let me here conclude with a passage from this document that expresses the spirit with which we want to proceed together in Bearing the Beams of Love:
An encounter with Christ is that moment when, in the power of the Holy Spirit, we truly open our hearts to our Savior, understand the depth and beauty of his love for us, and find ourselves forever changed and transformed by Him. Once we have done so, we view the Scriptures and the Church’s teachings, the liturgy, our life of prayer, and our moral life in a new way. Far from being burdensome, these things become beautiful and precious, and move from the periphery of our lives to the center. For when we have fallen in love with Christ, our lives acquire a new horizon of hope that enables us, even now, to live differently, and to strive eagerly for holiness, that is, an ever-deeper participation in God’s Triune glory and self-giving love (p. 11).
Such an encounter will transform us from assertion to meaningful dialogue, to a place where we can talk with each other, and not over each other.