New Lent New Church

Today’s blog explores the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church, Lent, a new vision of Lent and the vision of New Church.

Happy People

A Word from Matthew Fox

On the morning of Ash Wednesday, I received an email from Friends of Creation Spirituality, specifically, their founder and leader, Matthew Fox, and his official statement on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI.  Here is an excerpt:

A Comment on Pope Benedict’s Resignation
by Matthew Fox
 In many regards my Good Bye salute to Pope Benedict XVI is to be found in my book, “The Pope’s War: How Ratzinger’s Crusade Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved” where I put the past 42 years of the papacy in perspective. There I catalogue his unenvious track record of killing of theology and silencing of 105 theologians. History will remember Benedict for bringing back the Inquisition and emasculating the great Christ-like movement of Liberation Theology and for ignoring for decades the facts of priestly pedophilia. After all the buck stopped at his desk as head of CDF and he was apparently too busy to address that horrible reality since he was so preoccupied with playing the 20th century Torquemada and hounding theologians smarter, more generous, more creative and more brilliant than himself in order to shut them up.

The lack of conscience in the Yes men he and JPII appointed to positions of decision making means that no Catholic should be holding their breath expecting the Holy Spirit to elect a decent leader. The church as we know it is finished and that is a blessing in itself. The Holy Spirit expects us to move beyond Imperial Religion to the essence of Jesus’ teachings: Do it to the least and you do it to me….

Time to move from religion to spirituality. Especially creation spirituality which nourishes our mystical AND prophetic souls for carrying on the work of peace and justice in our time.

Behind Fox’s comments, I hear his own unhealed hurt, anger and frustration over the Institution’s inability to be open to the mystical and prophetic Spirit of change that has been sweeping the Church for the past century. And, Matthew Fox is not alone in this hurt. 

Hope in a New Church?

I, like Fox, have forsaken any hope of change coming forth out of the Institution and as he mentions, JPII and Benedict have stacked the cards so as to insure the continuation of a conservative, nostalgic, “reform of the reform.”  The prophetic, mystical, spiritually and emotionally healthy, justice-oriented church that many (including myself) long for is not likely to come out of Rome.  Instead, the NEW CHURCH that is being born will come out of the people….people like you and me that long for collaboration instead of hierarchy, a focus on love instead of fear, a God that is bigger than the Old Man in the Sky, a Church that honors the unique gifts and vocational call of WOMEN as well as men, GAY as well as straight, MARRIED as well as celibate.  And most importantly, a church that takes Jesus’ call seriously and seeks to BE THE LOVE that Jesus was and the LOVE that he calls us to be.

Let’s Start NOW with Lent

WE are the NEW CHURCH.  And it starts NOW.  TODAY.  WITH LENT.  For centuries, Lent has been the time that we focus our attention on our depraved, sinful, stained nature.  The theology of Lent tells us we are imperfect and flawed and as such, undeserving of God’s love….UNLESS WE CONFESS OUR SINS, BEG FOR FORGIVENESS, REPENT, PRAY, FAST, ABSTAIN and offer alms to the poor.  Lent teaches us that we did something to be deprived of God’s love, that God’s love is conditional and that in order to avoid the fires of hell, we have to spend eternity begging, pleading, wallowing, trying to earn back God’s meager love.   For forty days, we are invited to wallow in self-loathing and covet our shame like Gollum coveting the ring.  “My precious….”   What if starting today….with this LENT, we did something different?

Lent in the NEW CHURCH

Starting today, I am suggesting a new theology of Lent.  Instead of 40 days focusing on sin and retribution meted out by a harsh and judgmental God,  let’s focus on God’s love.  Let us take the next 40 days to REMEMBER how amazing and loving God is and that because we are made in the image and likeness of God, we are inherently perfect.  More importantly, we are invited to remember that God is love and that it is out of God’s love that we have been made.  As such, we are the very essence of LOVE itself.  Of course, there is the human condition and as a result, we frequently forget this LOVE that we are and in that forgetting, we experience fear which leads to non-loving and non-peaceful acts.  Instead of wallowing in the shame around these acts, let us remember that in God’s love, we are freed of our fears and no longer compelled to act in non-loving or non-peaceful ways.  Instead of flogging ourselves with the Cat of Nine Tails in penitence, let us focus on the Love of God and allow ourselves to more fully remember this love within us.

Help for the NEW LENT

My book, Authentic Freedom – Claiming a Life of Contentment and Joy is a fabulous resource for a NEW LENT in the NEW CHURCH.  Through the process of Authentic Freedom, we are invited to remember the DIVINE TRUTHS that allow us to live as peaceful, loving, contented and fulfilled human beings.  We recognize our non-loving and non-peaceful behaviors as stemming from our spiritual fears, the fears that come forth out of our false-perception of separation from God and we are given effect tools for transcending these fears so that we can REMEMBER the LOVE of God and remember the LOVE THAT WE ARE.

Goodbyes and Hellos

So as we bid adieu to Benedict, let us accept this opportunity to begin the NEW CHURCH TODAY….and say Hello to a church of love, service and justice….starting with US.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

4 thoughts on “New Lent New Church

  1. Perhaps I have misunderstood Lent but I have never believed that God’s love is conditional. Our “brokeness” is around our creation of false idols in our lives, our selfishness and our desire to be in relationship to everything and anyone but God. These are the matters that Lent concerns itself with in my opinion and I think there is good scriptural and traditional evidence to back up my position…(for those who care about that). I think its is a bit of a straw man to say that Lent was about A God with conditions and the new Lent is about love…. Lent has always been about Love a God who calls us back.. lures us like a lover.

    • Jennifer,
      Thank you for your thoughts. I agree with you. On the highest order, Lent is ultimately about God’s love and how much God wants us to remember that love. Repent, we are reminded, means to turn toward God and that this turning is the way we are able to return to peace, love, joy, etc. Unfortunately, lent sometimes gets twisted in a way that focuses on our “inherently flawed” nature and creates a sense of shame and fear around our “unworthiness.” It is this twist with which I take issue. My belief is that instead of sacrifice and beating our breasts in mea cuplas, God simply wants us to come home and remember the profound love God has for us, a love so grand that forgiveness is not something we need from God but something we need to offer to ourselves. The story of the Prodigal Son beautifully illustrates the abundance of God’s patience and compassion and Song of Songs shows us how much God truly adores us and longs for our return.

  2. i like the idea of a New Lent and that the new church needs to come from the people, but isn’t it presumptuous to say Mr. Fox has ‘unhealed hurt’…how do you know? This comment instantly devalued the bulletin from Mr. Fox and turned the discussion into its own war…on the church. Maybe it hasn’t gone well for Catholicism, but they have had massive amounts of people reacting by leaving. It’s not as if we have no choice over where to worship. And the same situation permeates most other avenues of society…government, corporations and so on and so on, and it is nothing indigenous to the church. We are all in the same boat and focusing on the hurt and pain we’ve suffered seems to be no less old school than the current situation of the church. Personally, I would now prefer to deal only with the positive and focus on how WE shall make this new church, which imo, can happen anywhere with any amount of people. But to draw back again and again into the horribleness of the old man in the sky and the judgementalism and all that negativity of the past feels so ….blah. enough already!

    • Apparently I’m having trouble with my words being misinterpreted of late. I meant only compassion for Mr. Fox, not judgement. I have great respect for the work Matthew Fox is doing in the world of Creation Spirituality and I admire his courage to continue on after getting the “pink slip” from Rome. Though, if I had included Mr. Fox’s bulletin in its entirety (which I chose not to), you might understand more about the unhealed wound of which I spoke. I also hope that readers understand that this blog is not waging war against the Church, but offering support for those might be looking for an alternative path. I sense that the Catholic Church in its current form will persist, I also see a new Church being born….one that reflects the hopes outlined in my blog.

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