Saturday, January 26, 2008
The Holy Spirit's Latest Slip
People who know what the Church should be (or is, it just doesn't know it) are wailing and gnashing their teeth because the Holy Spirit, it seems, has other ideas. Benedict XVI is a disappointment because he hasn't yet returned us to the state of the true Church (which, evidently involves ignoring everything else the Holy Spirit has done in the last fifty or so years of the Church's history). John XXIII--mistake, Vatican II--mistake, Paul VI--mistake, John Paul II--mistake. With the election of Benedict XVI, they thought the Holy Spirit had finally gotten it right. But the returns are in and it seems that the Holy Spirit screwed that one up too.
Well, it seems the Holy Spirit has gone and screwed up again. And many of the same people are convinced it's even more immediately apparent than the last time. Newly elected Jesuit Father General Adolfo Nicolas hasn't even really stepped out of the aula and already it's been decided the election was a failure. Forget the days of murmuratio, forget the days spent fasting, the hours spent praying before the Blessed Sacrament, we should have known all along that would not have any effect on the Jesuits' choice of their new leader! And how could the Pope have failed yet again by not rejecting the Jesuits' choice?
What has become of the Holy Spirit? Why must she insist on inspiring things in a direction contrary to our will? After all, it can only be the work of the Holy Spirit if she inspires things in a direction in conformity with what we have decided is the correct or right direction. Right? Otherwise it's just a bunch of stupid men making the wrong decision, no matter how much prayer they've put into it. This is the logic.
For my part, I don't know enough about the new Father General to make a judgment about him. And, besides, that would be extremely premature. But I do know enough about many of the men who make up the Jesuit General Congregation to say that I trust both in their judgment and especially in their willingness to be guided by the Holy Spirit. And for now, I'm content with that.
In the meantime, maybe we can take some lessons from that other guy, the one the Holy Spirit gave us as Pope. He has managed to defy all early characterizations of what kind of Pope he would or should be. And people are starting to consider that perhaps the Holy Spirit wasn't quite so derelict after all. Indeed, the topics of his first two encyclicals would serve to remind us of the need, in our Catholic community, for two things which such harsh and premature judgments make apparent--love, and hope.