The Bishop of Sioux City on Recovering from a hermenutic of discontinuity

Yesterday’s Zenit included this article referencing a letter from the Bishop of Sioux City, Iowa in which he cautions against “a hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture” prevalent in the Roman Catholic Church as we interpret the documents of Vatican II. He comments:

It seems to me that in many areas of the Church’s life the “hermeneutic of discontinuity” has triumphed. It has manifested itself in a sort of dualism, an either/or mentality and insistence in various areas of the Church’s life: either fidelity to doctrine or social justice work, either Latin or English, either our personal conscience or the authority of the Church, either chant or contemporary music, either tradition or progress, either liturgy or popular piety, either conservative or liberal, either Mass or Adoration, either the Magisterium or theologians, either ecumenism or evangelization, either rubrics or personalization, either the Baltimore Catechism or “experience”; and the list goes on and on! We have always been a “both/and” people: intrinsically traditional and conservative in what pertains to the faith, and creative in pastoral ministry and engaging the world.

The bishop proposes five action items for his diocese that I think any diocese, parish, or person of faith should also consider:

  1. We must renew our reverence, love, adoration and devotion to the Most Blessed Sacrament, within and outside of Mass.
  2. We must strengthen catechesis on every level, beginning with and focusing on adults.
  3. We are called to protect, build up and foster holy families in our midst, without whom the Church and the world perish.
  4. If we renew the Eucharistic, catechetical, and family life of our diocese, we will simultaneously foster a culture where young people can more readily respond to the radical calls of ministerial priesthood and the consecrated life.
  5. We must acknowledge and embrace the missionary character of the Catholic Faith and the vocation of all Catholics to be, not only disciples, but also apostles.

With any call to cling to new things, there is a correlating call to let go of something. The Bishop suggests…

In order to strengthen our devotion to Christ in the Holy Eucharist and worship God rightly, we need to renounce any attachment to how we worship currently… To improve the spiritual depth of how we perform the Church’s liturgy, we will need to renounce attachment to worldly expectations and long-standing habits. To spend more time adoring Christ in the Blessed Sacrament, we need to renounce attachment to how we currently use our time. To deepen our intimate love for God in our hearts and heads, we need to renounce attachment to whatever is not God that is filling our hearts and heads. To live in more intentional and holy Catholic families, we need to renounce attachment to distractions, sins, and imperfections that harm our domestic churches. To accept the divine plan God has for each of us, we need to renounce attachment to our own plans. To change the world for Christ, we need to renounce attachment to how we want the world to be for ourselves.

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