Rivers in the east flow eastward,Before too late we might arrive at not knowing from whence we came, whither we go, and how this unmistakeably present moment is isomorphically intimate with all time and its mother eternity.
Rivers in the west flow westward,
And they all enter the sea.
From sea to sea they pass,
The clouds lift them to the sky
As vapor and send them down as rain.
And as these rivers,
When they are united with the sea,
Do not know whether they
Are this river or that,
Likewise all creatures do not know
From whence they came.
- Chandogya Upanishad
From a sermon on Baptism by St. Pacian, bishop:Talking to an enthusiastic and intelligent young man about theology last evening. We wonder what the future of the Roman church holds. So few priests. Religious men and women grow old. Their communities threaten to fold in around them -- so few recruits following behind them. The institution weakened by sex abuse scandals. Authority, at least moral authority, weakened.
Who, O God, is like you? you take away guilt
As we have borne the image of the earthly man, so we shall bear the image of him who is from heaven; since the first man who came from the earth, is earthly, but the second man who came from heaven, is heavenly’. And so, dearly beloved, we shall not die anymore. Even if we fall asleep in this body, we shall live in Christ, as he said: Whoever believes in me, even if he die, shall live.
(--From Office of Readings, Saturday of week 19 of the year)
What would happen if the rift between East and West were healed? Would Peter's Chair become a long bench? Would it become a folding chair? Would everyone have to take off their heavy vestments and paraphernalia and sit on the grass where fingers could easily pick at the brown clay and earth?
There's no need to dump the church. There could be a transfer of sensibility so as to welcome women into the realization of Christ's priesthood. (The young man rolled his eyes at this thought.) No more hocus pocus. Rather, priestly speaking into the inner reality of matter itself, inviting core truth to fill the edges of what is. "This" is the body of Christ. It is given up for us. Not held on to. Not withheld. Not the possession of a few.
Silentium tibi laus. 'Let silence be your praise!'
As blood flows silently through living beings, living being itself is loving silent gaze. Words are accoutrement. They are not essential garb.
The young man will go to study for priesthood in the Roman tradition.
I look out window. Blue sky. Blue water. Flags blowing in breeze. Children's voices rise.