The Church as hope.

In the last three weeks, I have been on a pilgrimage of sorts. Three really. Medjagorje, World Youth day madrid and then a week in Rimini in italy. All three have pointed to one reality- the place of hope in my life.
I had not planned this trip. After my World Youth Day Sydney trip, I really wasn’t up to youth & travel. I avoided committing to the trip- being on holiday somewhere quiet would have been just alright, thanks.
But now, sitting in a street cafe in Ravenna and with the first chance to think about the trip, I am so grateful that the P.I.E group forced my hand.
A few things stand out for me.
Confessions- I heard so many confessions in medjagorje. There is such a special grace open to us in being honest with God and ourselves. I am also struck that we as church have erred both in our catechesis and our lived understanding of Confession. God’s Mercy first, always. I was shocked to be asked by different people if they were going to hell. All this about the wrong done or supposedly done. Judicial confession is necessary, but reconciliation far more beneficial to the soul.
The second thing that has struck me is how positive the youth of the church are. They are on their way, for sure. Not complete in understanding. But so Good. I feel renewed and regenerated in my own faith having had the chance to spend two weeks with wonderful, funny young people. People who love God even more than I do!
And Hope. The meeting at Rimini was an eye-opener. It’s italy’s largest religious cultural event. Talks, exhibitions and over a million visitors in a week. All about hope, all about living as church now- in the office, on a surfboard, on a bus. We can be. Very exciting. Some great slogans too- like ‘God exists-and it’s not you- get over it’ and ‘I’m not on facebook- I have real friends’. A new counter-cultural Catholicism emerging?
What of the negatives? Two really. Sore feet… Understandable. And disappointment in the NeoCatechumenal way, one of the new movements in the church. They horrified me in sydney by their exclusivity. They reinforced my horror in Madrid by disregard. In the one moment where silence was possible during the vigil with Pope Benedict, the catholic circle dancing clique carried on regardless. Thanks guys- a real show of the unity of the church.
Now- back home via Milano tomorrow and Paris on monday. And I can’t wait.

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About sharpspear

Random musings of a Catholic Priest at the bottom end of africa. Media curious. Lover of music. not sure they even represent my views, nevermind the views of others.
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