Sometimes we imagine we are the only people who have lived in a time where the Church is tossed and torn between the waves of opinion, position and revelation.
Sr Maria, a Poor Clare, recently posted this light hearted resumé of the church’s ‘growing pains.’ She kindly gave her permission to reproduce it here.
. . . .the Church started out in the catacombs, she was oppressed by everyone, she was at her last gasp.
The Edict of Constantine dreadfully exposed the Church to the unworthy perils of success, it nearly did her in.
Galloping heresies afflicted her from every side; Arianism, Montanism, Donatism, Monarchism, Unitism, Docetism, Gnosticism and Etceteraism. Orthodoxy was going under.
Waves of invasion swept over her; Alaric, Attila, Genseric, Ricimer, Totila, Belisarius and the Lombards. In 846, Saracens attacked Rome and stomped on what they thought were the bones of Blessed Peter. She was all in.
The monarchs in the west bought the Pope, the Emperors in the east took her revenues. Hildebrand made the wives of the priests of Rome clean the Lateran [for pay!], and still celibacy was not established and simony was not extinguished! Secular power dragged her under!
The Crusades were not even successful!God himself told Francis of Assisi that she was falling down.Humanitarianism and the Renaissance eroded her foundations. Pope Alexander married his children, and Pope Leo enjoyed himself.
The Reformation swept over her and knocked her flat. She had not tottered to her feet before the Enlightenment came in and socked her on the jaw. Joseph removed all the regular clergy whilst asking to be made Holy Roman Emperor. The French Revolution enthroned reason and cut off every one else’s head.
There were more waves of Isms; Jansenism, Pelagianism [the best Welsh heresy], Workism [the only American heresy], Modernism and – unbelievable, completely unbelievable! - Triumphalism!!!!!. In the nineteenth century, Science and Darwinism positively and finally disproved the existence of God.
The First Vatican council thought that the Pope had probably been right all along, but not clever; it was too hot in Rome without air conditioning to define the church that summer, so the fathers unanimously voted to go home. They did agree about that.
God died, and so did a great many other people in the so called Great War. She – the Catholic Church - had scarcely tottered back to her feet again when she was laid out by the Second World War.
She was struck at from all angles by the Second Vatican Council and her members shot off in all directions to become social workers, Ex-Jesuits, columnists on the Tablet and partially liberated women theologians.
For twenty centuries she has been going down for the third time. For twenty centuries she has been breathing her last. Tyrants have tortured her, death has decimated her, ideas have obviated her, AND SHE IS STILL GOING STRONG !!!!