Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Peace of Assisi



I've just returned from a peaceful, prayerful two days in Assisi, after taking my Presbyterian cousins around Catholic sites in Paris and Rome. I found the whole experience deeply moving and these last three days gave me time to reflect on my own sense of vocation as a gay catholic spiritual writer as well as on the future of catholic Christianity and the possibilities for its healing and spiritual growth. I hope to write up these reflections over the weekend and will most likely first post them on the collaborative, progressive, catholic blog, Open Tabernacle. Just to offer one insight, as I was strolling down the main thoroughfare leading to St. Peter's Square, I was struck by how much Roman Catholicism is a mass, popular folk religion with its key iconic figures, like Pope John Paul II and Mother Teresa (whom I much admire for her genuine holiness, despite some serious blindspots), serving the role of pop stars in the secular media and thereby becoming the objects of massive and irrational projection. To this list has now been added the dubious figure of "Saint" Josemaria Escriva, the founder of Opus Dei, possibly the least likely candidate for canonization in the whole long history of the church. Holy cards and books bearing his visage and name are everywhere to be seen around St. Peter's and the overall effect upon one such as myself is chilling. Yet this cheapening and dishonoring of the canonization process is also a hopeful sign of the end of one particular cultural way of being Catholic, whose time of diminishment has come, making way for a new form of christian spiritual authenticity. However, travel to Assisi some two hours away by train and one is immediately transported into another rarefied atmosphere of profound peace and presence, where the very best of the Catholic spirit continues to thrive and inspire - far from the cold corridors of the Vatican and the burnished, marble mausoleum that is St. Peters.

3 comments:

William D. Lindsey said...

Jayden, this is a great teaser, which makes me look forward very much to the piece you are planning for Open Tabernacle. I'm intrigued by the suggestion that we may be seeing the last, tawdry fling of the saint-making process with "Saint" Jose Maria--and that this may be pointing the way to a new spirituality.

You give me hope. I'm eager to read the rest of your reflections about the period in Assisi.

Jayden Cameron said...

Thanks, Bill. I must say I'm daunted and awed by your prodigious output on OT, together with Terry. Thank God, because I'm far behind.

William D. Lindsey said...

Jayden, thanks--much of what I'm posting is cross-posted from my own blog, though. I've been queuing pieces routinely primarily to try to help the blog get on its feet.

And I worry about having too much of my yammering on the new blog. I'll be very glad when more of us are free to add items, so that an array of good voices have a hearing. Otherwise, folks are going to become mighty bored of my droning on and on . . . .