"Behold! I make all things new." (Rev. 21:5)
Here it is, as simple as I can make it: Renewal is not restoration.
If we must go back, it is back to the roots we must go; not back to the dying tree.
I'm talking, of course, of the longing for an age of renewal in the church; an age that eerily conforms to the age of renewal in our political culture. What we see, mostly, is a Catholic Tea Party, longing for a church restored to its Tridentine glory, a city on a hill, shining brightly in the doom and gloom world, a church known for its exceptionalism, and so forth.
But what we end up with, for example, is the "renewal" of the liturgical wording, as in: "And with your spirit." Because that is a literal translation of "Et cum spiritu tuo?" Which, in turn, means what? And then there are now pages upon pages on various websites elucidating us as to what it really means.
I repeat: renewal is not restoration.
Me? I'll stick with the word of the Lord in the Book of Revelation: "Behold! I make all things new." As in a "new" heaven and a "new" earth. That's the kind of renewal I long for. For that is a renewal which has no pre-conceived notions of what will come to be. The most we can say about it is what it will not be, as in, for example, "no more sickness and death, no more tears and sadness."
What would you say about your vision of the "new" church, in the style of those negative visions presented in the Book of Revelation? What, in the present church, should pass away? I don't mean, here, merely a list of what we don't like about the present church. I mean those beliefs and practices that are truly demeaning and debilitating, that cause suffering and pain, instead of being a remedy.
I guess I would put hypocrisy at the top of my list. At one point in Matthew's gospel Jesus says about the teachers of the law that people should follow their teaching, "but do not do as they do, for they do not practice what they preach." (Matt 23:3) The point here is not simply that the faithful must follow the law and teaching, but rather that a real change occurs when the teachers of that law follow the law and the teaching themselves.
So let me say it again: I am waiting for the priests, the bishops, and the Vatican to confess their sins of covering up the practice of pedophilia in the church. All the new practices put in place to make sure it never happens again does not remove the sin involved. Even vowing not to do the deed again does not remove the sin. One must confess, and then do the penance.
I am waiting and watching.