Sunday, July 5, 2009

Reform and Renewal

I was reading Fr. Benedict J. Groeschel's book, "The Reform of Renewal." In it he talks about how there is a clear and unequivocal call for personal reform as the basis of authentic renewal in society and in the Church, rooted in several different sources. It is a wonderful book that I highly recommend.

Anyways, I was reading it, and I came across a wonderful section I want to share with you. It explains why most of the Vatican II issues took place all in one paragraph.

"Consider the extreme confusion of our time and the scandal and discord in the Church. Consider the decline in piety and religious devotion. Recall that in our country the gap between rich and poor becomes wider everyday, and the number of people falling into the underclass increases. When we consider all of this, it is time to admit that we live in days that desperately need repentance. The word renewal has been used for the last twenty (wrote this in 1990, so since 1965 it will be 44 years). It is a good word. In the Pauline context it means to return to the power of the holy Spirit and let Him make us new again. But before that renewal can happen, reform is necessary. True spiritual renewal is not simply cultural or educational. It is not simply restating truths to make them compatible with a new age. True renewal is above all a return to God. It is a daily, ongoing repentance, an attempt to accept the the Good News in all its unthinkable and incomprehensible grandeur and to pick oneself up and try to respond to that call. Renewal without reform is spiritually devastating."

This is perfect! It shows completely what people were and are missing in this "Age of Renewal!" One cannot have renewal if one doesn't have reform. Isn't that exactly what Vatican II set itself up to do? Now, I'm not condemning Vatican II. It was, I believe, a good and holy thing that happened and many goods have come out of it. I'm just saying that over the course of all that happened during that time period, we missed a central key.

Everyone set out to "renew" the Mass (this same situation happened in many parts of our country and society as well). This renewal happened under no basis of reform. So thus it has crumbled beneath us, and has been spiritually devastating to many people.

Now, here we are with a lacking number of religious piety, reverence, good moral ethics, catechises and clergy. With the Church's numbers dwindling, we ask ourselves "why?"; because we have fallen into a secular position. In both moral, political, and liturgical matters. It is very easy to fall away from the true teachings of the faith, and make them fit our lives and this world when we have no immediate pressure or threat to turn us to our faith. We become "fat, happy, and lazy" catholics when "all's good."

What we need to remember is that we must always be in the form of reform then renewal. The church is constantly in that state because the world is counter to it, to us. So we too must renew our hearts to God, and repent. We as catholics, keep our eyes fixed on the second coming of Christ. We should be in a constant state of reform, and renewal from our repentance, because isn't that what repentance is? It's the renewal and reform of oneself to follow God and His will more closely.

But this is something that begins with the individual first. Then it will spread to the Church as a whole. There is reform happening, one that will help this "age of renewal" go in the right direction. One that is very good and derives from the grace of God. What a time to be living in.