by Maxime Michelet
Translation Louise Thunin
I willingly confess that I don’t mind attending Catholic Mass. I find it rather pleasant. Nonetheless I am not a great defender of the Roman Church. Its exclusively masculine clergy and its authoritarian organization are a problem for me. I denounce its political interference, its anti-feminine attitude and its homophobia. I’m outraged at its lacks concerning sexual predators and its relations with certain reactionary ideologies. And there are a number of points of belief that find no echo in me.
The Church of Christ must be inclusive, democratic, free and in movement. The Church of Rome is immobile, intransigent and vertical. I can’t identify with it. But this being established, I’d like to add : how many beauties there are in the Catholic faith !
For example the devotion to Mary, whose gentleness and beauty cannot be denied : let him who has never been moved by an Ave Maria throw the first stone !
And then there’s the incense, the perfume that, having wafted over the altars of innumerable religions from times beyond memory, seems intemporal. Or the exteme solemnity of the Eucharist. Without sharing the dogma, we can admit that Catholicism knows how to lend greatness to the central element of its faith. If we sometimes leave the service feeling unsatisfied, insofar as Gospel commentary is concerned, Catholic Mass knows how to arouse emotion, sometimes nearing the sublime.
Perhaps I am struck by these Catholic beauties because they correspond to our Protestant lacks. Not concerning the devotion to Mary, the incense and the Eucharist (let me reassure you !), but the emotion. And, sometimes, the sublime, the ineffable communion. By being too intellectual, Protestant austerity can transform itself into academic chilliness and our services into theological lecture halls. Sometimes it is not so much the mind that needs to be persuaded but the heart which needs to be resurrected by that movement of the soul we call emotion. As for the juxtaposed solitudes that characterize the men and women of our times, what can be more precious than shared emotion ?
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