Letters to Jesus (Church, Religion, and Sacraments)-6
During my 17 years of formal Catholic education (and many times thereafter) I have read or heard about the great traditions of Christianity and the Catholic Church. Past traditions mix heavily in the “cornerstones” of the faith. So much imbued with tradition are we that it can often become a separate source of worship. If one was to judge solely from pulpit-issued homilies one might peg a lot of priests ashistorians in their approach to enlightening a congregation. This mode tends to perpetuate itself through the congregation to others. It strikes me that what happens in such cases is that we become curators of a kind of museum.
There’s comfort in traditions and nostalgia in museums, but comfort and nostalgia can be granite walls against spiritual growth. It’s quite obvious that institutional religion has a past that exerts great influence on large numbers of people. We have a natural tendency to resist change. Change is not always comfortable, nor does it always bring warm memories – at least not for awhile. We might see the liabilities of living in the past when we look at history itself. Your coming presented very uncomfortable changes in the rich history and traditions of the Jewish people who had settled on being the curators of a vast cultural/religious museum.
In many ways contemporary Christians are becoming settled in the dying curatorship of a less and less visited museum. It would seem that a renovating jolt is needed to shake us up and point us in relevant directions. We don’t need curators as much as we need visitors. We need people to comprehend the museum as a school and leave having learned from it in order to transcend it, just as Your visit to and departure from the Judaic museum took from and transcended what it contained. Many of those we revere as saints similarly transcended the museum’s comfort and nostalgia. Their departures have now become permanent displays in the museum under the curatorship of those dedicated to nothing more than their history.
The curator’s mindset misses the dynamics of history and tradition – the movement that must emanate from them. The idea is to neither become anchored to the past nor to ignore it, but to visit it, learn from it, and move on.