Monking Where You Are.


The Readings for the 13th Sunday Tempus per Annum (C1)

You are my inheritance, O Lord.

Right now Catholic, American internet seems to be filled with one of three different types of politics. These might be described as Monarchist, Socialist, or Capitalist. There are subtypes as well: the Socialists might be split into various camps depending on Marx or Chavez or Trotsky. The monarchists might be split between absolute, Divine Right Monarchists and the Constitutional Monarchists. The capitalists are split between sort of vaguely agrarian communitarian and post-industrialist, libertarian camps. There are Alt Right and Alt Left just like in the secular world.

What each of these types has in common is that they claim the Church’s authority for their political beliefs. Each one seems to say I have found the one right way to bring about Catholic Social change. They ignore the fact that the further right you go, the less you sound like a Catholic social ethicist. While the further left to go the less you sound like a Catholic moral theologian. You can’t be any of these things be a Good Catholic

Today the psalmist offers us the answer.  You are my inheritance, Lord.

I believe and confess that as Catholics we are obligated to bring about a Catholic social order. The USCCB’s Catechism for Adults says:

Through participation in political life—either as voters or as holders of public office—they work for increasing conformity of public policy to the law of God as known by human reason and Divine Revelation. This they do especially by showing the coherence of Catholic teaching with the fundamental yearnings and dignity of the human person.

The catechism does not tell us which political system to use. In fact, it seems to imply that regardless of the political system we still have the same obligation. In fact, it seems to say that it is the performance of our obligation which is the proper focus, not the political system. The Catechism seems to presuppose that making Catholic moral choices will change the political system to be the right one. Focusing on the political system first is to put the cart before the horse. You are my inheritance, Lord.

Not just politics, but in other parts of our life, too:  we seem to put our Catholicism as the caboose on the train rather than the engine. We worry about our jobs too much. Or we stress over our apartment and our status as caregiver for our family. God says to worry about God. Everything else will take care of itself, or better he will take care of everything else. This comes home to me nearly every day recently. When I stress over something I’ve said, or something I’ve done. Will they find out I’m Catholic? Will there be social repercussions? God says he is my inheritance. Not my job, not my social welfare, not my health insurance, not even my parents. But God.

When I say it that way, you might ask why I don’t return to the monastery. I don’t think that’s what God wants. I don’t think that’s my calling. As much as I love sitting in the quiet of a monastic Chapel I don’t think that’s my calling. I think my calling is here in the world. That doesn’t mean I cannot live a monastic life. Or, as a friend rather unkindly implied the other day, pretend I’m monastic. I live alone, I have all day to pray, what else can I do? I feed my cat and read my breviary. You are my inheritance, Lord.

Jesus said, “No one who sets a hand to the plow and looks to what was left behind is fit for the kingdom of God.”

I spend a lot of time looking back: not like Mrs. Lot who turned around to have fond reminiscences of home. I turn around to look back out of fear. Who is following me? Who has managed to evade God long enough to sneak up behind me? The sphere, this lack of trust, shows a weakness on my part that can be exploited. My fear is my downfall. I forget who my inheritance is. I go after the world doing its own thing. I expect from a selfish world more care then I got from God on a moment-to-moment basis. How strange is that? You are my inheritance, Lord.

But someone with children, someone with a career, someone with an active life filled with things to do and places to go has the same experience. That’s the whole point of Dominican tertiaries: we are Dominicans in the world. We’re not pretend monastics, we’re not pseudo-religious, we are Dominicans Where We Are. I am a Dominican whose primary ministry is in writing and customer service. How does my Dominican presents at my job create a Catholic culture? How do I contribute to the building of a Catholic Social and moral order in the world? How does my Dominican charism bring the Gospel’s preaching to everything that I do? This is Ministry this is the living of a Christian Life in the world. You are my inheritance, Lord.

If we had political activists in the Catholic Church who were focused solely on manifesting Catholic social structures imagine the revolution we would have! If we had social activists in the Catholic Church who were intent on creating a Catholic culture, imagine the revolution we would have! You are my inheritance, Lord.

If we had beauticians, bartenders, bus and taxi drivers, baseball players, librarians, grocers and bag boys, comediennes, architects, artists,  teachers, journalists, photographers, drummers, Piper’s, soldiers, sailors, everything…  all of whom were committed to their Catholicism first to the building of the Catholic moral and social order first, and these other things second. If they all did their stuff as Catholics rather than finding a way to attach their Catholicism to their stuff, imagine the revolution we would have! You are my inheritance, Lord.

Author: Huw Raphael

A Dominican Tertiary living in San Francisco, CA. He is almost 59. He feeds the homeless as a parochial almoner and is studying to be a Roman Catholic Deacon. He is learning modern Israeli Hebrew and enjoys cooking, keto, cats, long urban hikes, and SF Beer Week.

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