Dazzling Diversity

Father Hunwicke has posted on his blog today the following anecdote as an Easter chuckle (“risus paschalis”).  (I hope he does not mind that I attach it below in its entirety.  An excerpt would not do it justice.) 

It’s good that this story falls on Easter.  The revelation of the resurrection is so brilliant that nearly no one (that I can think of) in the Gospel accounts is able to recognize our risen Lord at first.  Truth is too rich, too dazzling to take in.  In this era of increasing polarization, both in society in general and in the Church, it is good to remember that Catholicism is about both/and paradoxes, which not only can be disconcerting but are meant to be.  Truth does not fit as predictably into neat compartments as is sometimes claimed.

Part of this dazzling richness is the fact that there are many expressions of Christian spirituality.  The Church has long recognized this, of course, in the creation of various institutes for vowed religious.  But recognizing and supporting this diversity among lay Catholics in the west has been less than dazzling.  It seems to me, though, that part of what the Church’s embrace of the Anglican patrimony accomplishes is to recognize a unique spirituality that is available to laity who are so inclined.  The following account of an exchange between the Anglican Benedictine, Dom Gregory Dix, and the Superior General of the Jesuits helps to illustrate something about that uniqueness.

I too have tried Ignatian spirituality.  And I too have found that though I could see how it must be very valuable to some, it does not appeal to me.  It strikes me as being too busy and too reliant on a rather involved method.  Monastic spirituality is a quiet and simple thing: be open to the presence of God in Scripture, liturgy, and in everyday life.

Easter blessings to you all!

Brother John-Bede Pauley, O.S.B.

Risus Paschalis 2019

Some years before Vatican II, Dom Gregory Dix was, rather daringly, invited by Cardinal Gerlier of Lyons to give a lecture on Anglican spirituality.

In the discussion, he was asked by an unidentified priest whether the Anglican clergy were taught Ignatian spirituality.

Dix replied that it was the only kind that most of them were taught, and that this was very unfortunate, as it was a type that was very unsuitable to English people, so that most of them, having tried it without success, abandoned prayer altogether.

There was a burst of laughter and the questioner, somewhat disconcerted, sat down with the remark, “Father, that is a truly Benedictine sentiment”.

The chairman of the meeting whispered to Dom Gregory, “That was the Father Provincial of the Society of Jesus”.

Narratore E L Mascall.

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