Skip to main content

Clericalism: The Death Trap for Christians

"No, my children! We cannot lead a double life. We cannot be like schizophrenics, if we want to be Christians. There is only one life, made of flesh and spirit. And it is that life which has to become, in both body and soul, holy and filled with God: we discover the invisible God in the most visible and material things. " St. Josemaria Escriva from "Passionately Loving The World.

Recently I attended a day of recollection through Opus Dei.  Something about the talk struck me. The speaker was making points about clericalism that I had never heard before. It made me pause and think about the way I was progressing in my own spiritual life.

So what is Clericalism?  The dictionary definition is:  a policy of maintaining or increasing the power of a religious hierarchy 

During St. Josemaria's time (1930's Spain) clericalism was a big problem. There was the perception that  priests lived a comfortable life because of their status in society. Often times these priests lived better than their parishioners.  The priests who adopted this smugly relaxing mindset took advantage of the veneration of the people. Priesthood to them wasn't a vocation, it was a profession; a way of moving up the social ladder.

Josemaria Escriva was the exact opposite type of priest.  He regarded the concept of clericalism with great disdain.  For him, the priesthood was a means to serve God and treat God's people with love. He expanded the religious view of clericalism to apply to the lay persons life as well.  To Escriva clericalsim  meant being "double minded"  It meant that if you successfully compartmentalize your faith , you can actually lead a double life.  You can carry out your religious, moral and ethical duties at set times while still living a mostly secular /worldly life.  A classic example of a clerical outlook would be the person who attends church on Sunday but acts totally different during the week.   The problem with this is that as Christians we are called to be holy at ALL times. Holiness needs to permeate every aspect our lives as Christians.

In the West it is common, especially in business to compartmentalize aspects of our lives.  We are taught that we should act a certain way at school, a certain way at church, a certain way at home, a certain way at work, and a certain way at play.  But then, life would be a fragmented body instead of a united whole. This is antithetical to the Christian life since Christians believe that God is present everywhere not only during spiritual practices. In the 1600's the rationalist philosopher Rene Descartes sought to separate faith and reason. Sadly, he appears to have succeeded.

The way this clerical mindset seeps in the life of a believer is when a person begins to separate their spiritual life from their day to day life.   St. Josemaria was vehement in his opposition to this.  Instead he believed that every single moment can and should become a holy moment.

So how can we spiritualize any given moment?

We need to somehow develop a spiritual outlook to every single incident that happens in our lives. It may be as simple as asking Jesus to help us out when we're tempted not to put forth our best effort at work.  If our spouse or child is annoyingly complaining, we can offer up that aggravating moment as a little prayer to God.  Traffic is everywhere and were late?.. Thank Him for having a car. Or as someone adorably sweet and holy once said in a talk...."If you stub your toe...just thank God that you have a toe."   OK A little hokey but you get the point. St. Josemaria writes eloquently about this as he says,  "Live in the presence of God and you will have supernatural life." 278 from The Way.

Daily regular life becomes a never ending source of holiness. Life becomes exciting like some divine alchemist changing ordinary matter into gold. Suddenly the mundane becomes beautiful and the trivial becomes wondrous.

OK. St Josemaria. I like where you're going with all this. So much so that I've begun to daily recite your prayer:

"Grant that I too may learn to turn all the circumstances and events of my life into occasions of loving you and serving the Church."

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

10 Great Quotes from The Book of Sirach

The book of Sirach is a book that is often overlooked in the bible. This is unfortunate since this book contains many wise, practical saying on how to live a virtous life. The book was believed to have been written between 200-175 B.C.E.

Here are ten quotes that I feel best reflect this timeless work.

1."Do not become a beggar by feasting with\borrowed money, when you have nothing in your purse." Sirach 18:33

2."In all you do remember the end of your life, and then you will never sin." 7:36

3.."Glory and dishonor come from speaking; a man's tongue is his downfall." 5:13"

4."A wise man is cautious in everything." 18:27

5."One who trusts others is light minded." 19:4

6."If you pursue justice, you will obtain it and wear it as a glorious robe." 27:8

7."Many have fallen by the edge of the sword, but no many as have fallen because of the tongue." 28:18

8." In all of your work be industrious and no sickness will…

George Michael, Carrie Fisher, and The Afterlife

I was stunned, as was most of the world was when I heard about the passing of George Michael on Christmas day.  Michael possessed enormous talent was and one of the most successful acts in the 1980's and early 90's

Shortly after Carrie Fisher died.  Fisher was famous for her legendary role as princess Leia from the Star Wars movies.  Strangely her mother also died the day after.

2016 was notable year for celebrity deaths.

Some names include: Prince, Glenn Frey, David Bowie,  Doris Roberts, Alan Rickman, and Muhammad Ali.

As a Catholic these deaths got me thinking about the transient nature of life, and the inevitability of death.

Marcus Aurelius, the stoic, emperor, philosopher king wrote about the passing nature of life as he reflected, "Time is a sort of river of passing events, and strong is its current; no sooner is a thing brought to sight than it is swept by and another takes its place, and this too will be swept away."

Even though I agree mostly with Aurelius&#…

Me vs. The Almighty

There is famous scene in the bible where Jacob wrestles with God.  Jacob fights with God until God takes out a bone from Jacob's thigh. Interestingly, God eventually relents and stops fighting with Jacob. After this dramatic incident Jacob is renamed Israel which literally means, "he who struggles with God."

I can relate to this story.  Many times in my life I have argued with God. I still do. (my wife can attest to that.) Many times I have criticized his tactics, his ways, and his wisdom. In my worst moments I have even used choice language. I have a complicated relationship with God. Like Jacob I have wrestled with God. (thigh bone still intact)

Recently I approached a priest friend of mine and told him of my struggles with God.  I expected that he would chide me for my lack of respect and informality. What this priest said was illuminating and encouraging. He told me that it was OK at times to be angry with God, God understood. He in fact encouraged this honesty and o…