Friday, May 4, 2012

I have been reading for the past two weeks a book by Tomas Halik, a Czech Catholic priest and theologian, called Night of the Confessor.  I want to excerpt some passages from the book over the next few weeks, especially those dealing more directly with biblical themes, as this book is a challenge to Christianity as it is lived today, for those who are Christians and those who are not. At this point, I am not that interested in coming to any conclusions regarding Halik's work or his problems, but just giving a section of his work and asking some questions. I have found the book powerful, moving and, in the best possible sense, a shake-up. I also find that somehow, as the best spiritual writers tend to be able to do, he speaks directly to me.

Soren Kierkegaard, whom I regard as the first real prophet of the new path of faith - of faith as the courage to live in paradox - used to stress that in faith people stand before God as individuals. In his own loneliness, Kierkegaard experienced the paradox of which Jesus spoke: God is like the shepherd who left behind ninety-nine sheep and went off in search of "the one that was lost." Maybe today also God will tend to go after the "lost sheep," talk to their hearts, and carry them on His shoulders, accomplishing something out of their experience of "being lost and found again" that he could not achieve with the ninety-nine percent that never wandered, that is, those people who believe themselves to be in good health and therefore have no real need of Him - the doctor.

Yes, "the Church is a community," "christianity is not a private enterprise," and so on. We are all familiar with the rhetoric of the Church, and in a sense it is true, of course. However, I am increasingly convinced that the future face of the Church - a church that will fulfill the promises that "the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it" - will be more of a "community of the shaken" than the sharing en masse of an unproblematized tradition that is accepted as a matter of course" (Chapter 16: Second-Wind Christianity, Kindle Edition, 83%)
I have never really thought of how the "lost sheep" come back to the sheepfold and how they might change the sheepfold, transform it, and not just be transformed. Are we ready to be transformed by the "lost sheep"? Are we ready to let them do their work? What can their experience teach us, the 99% who think all is well? Are we willing to see ourselves as lost (if indeed we are) and not a part of the 99%?

What does it mean to be a "community of the shaken"? How does Halik see this community transforming the Church as it is and what does he mean by the Church being more than "sharing en masse of an unproblematized tradition that is accepted as a matter of course"?

John W. Martens

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