Chatter here and there this week about “progress” and “not going back” and “moving forward.”
Well…here’s the thing.
That paradigm of perceptible institutional “progress” or evaluating the Church in terms of “backwardness” or “forwardness” is not something that is a part of discourse about the Church, historically speaking.
Yes, there’s teleology and eschatology, all of which look forward in time to all things being reconciled in Christ and the purpose for which Creation was made fulfilled, but that is not the same thing as looking at the Body of Christ as it exists and is expressed in time and space and saying, “We should go backwards” or “backwards is bad” or “we need to keep moving forward.”
Because…what’s the reference point?
Reform happens in the Church, constantly. Some great saints were fearless, misunderstood, and sometimes persecuted reformers. But perhaps it might be helpful and useful to consider what those saints themselves said about what they were about and why. You just don’t see that paradigm which assumes “progress” in history at work. Yes, you see lives that express movement, activity, change, breaking down, building up, and going forth. But the framework is not “We can’t go backwards to the bad old days” or even “We must return to the good old days,” because both of those make idols of points of space and time. No, you see something else: you see a call to deeper fidelity to Christ, a more profound attention to Apostolic tradition (because “apostolic”, unlike “pre-Decretum Gratiani” or “Scholastic” or “between the First and Second Lateran Councils” or “early Celtic monastic” or “post-Vatican II” is actually in the Creed.), purification, and, per the prophets, penance.
Perhaps in the end, it all means the same thing?
I don’t know. I can’t say. But language matters, and the notion of “progress” as a Mark of the Church with some random, preferred point in history as a reference point is…different. And not, in case you were wondering, dogmatic.
Picking out “Canis Major” by Robert Frost for consideration. He read it aloud, we discussed its meaning. He picked on of the stanzas for his copywork, and after he was done, we cracked open some books and read about the constellation and Sirius.
Fifteen minutes, but it’s moments like that that move the day from pretty good to lovely.
Finished Beast Academy 4C……with a very strong unit on integers, including negatives. Once again, I was impressed by the genius of the workbook. The problems and puzzles are written and structured just right, so that after a couple of pages, the kid has moved to sort of getting it to mastery.
Unfortunately 4D isn’t out yet, so we will fill in the waiting with a Life of Fred book and perhaps some work from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching, which the BA guys recommend as a supplement or fallback.
Also the past couple of weeks? Had a very intense few days of basketball, which wrapped up that season for both of them…and no spring sports, except, I think, me attempting one more time to get everyone on the tennis court. Science center homeschool class on Weather, so we pulled those chapters out of the 4th grade science book and did more on that subject. Older, non-homeschooling son had a chance to serve as a page in the Alabama House earlier this week. Schola practice at the Cathedral. Beginning serving practice for the Triduum liturgies at the convent. Reading I, Juan de Pareja, using this very good study guide. (I used a Glencoe guide when he read Number the Stars a couple of weeks ago and was impressed with it as well.) Evening reading-out-loud, Don Quixote. Studing a lot about Velasquez, Goya, Picasso, El Greco, Bosch and Miro.
Some random links:
If you live in Alabama, getting involved in the Society of St. Andrew – dedicated to gleaning “imperfect” produce is a fun and very helpful activity – we participated in a sweet potato drop last fall, and hope to do more as spring and summer progress. If you live in the middle part of the state, there are two opportunities to help coming up.
First Folios on tour! The Folger Library is sending some copies of this first edition of Shakespeare’s plays on a touring exhibit over the next year. I’m happy to see that Montgomery, home of the excellent Alabama Shakespeare Festival, has made the cut.
Tom McDonald runs a nice series on “How I Pray” over at Patheos. I’m this week’s interview. Go here.
Starting to think about First Communion gifts?
And since it’s Friday….
John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press. This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app. Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)