The Flow of the River

Heraclitus was a philosopher who preceded Socrates who wrote, “You cannot step twice into the same river.”

Dolan. There was a new archbishop named for New York City. The success of someone educated as Catholics is to be judged by an archbishop in the numbers who elect to marry in the church, who attend Sunday Mass, or who join the priest or sisterhood. Or so he was quoted in the New York Times.

Wedlock: What did it mean to this society? Any more. Mostly there was only talk of divorce and gay marriage in the news. Little news of the day by day life of wedlock.

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless wasteland. And darkness covered the abyss, while a mighty wind swept over the waters. Baptism. What did it mean any more? Another kind of wedlock. A formless wasteland. That well could be the first line in a story about the human faith struggle. Baptism. People who actually meant something. From the beginning. Being part of the real community here on earth. Whose times you shared. In the beginning. With gifts that actually had meaning. And then passing it on to your own kids, the people who meant everything.

To tell a lover that you love him/her. To be wedded. Wedlock. It has helped me tremendously.

Abraham. Isaac. Sacrifice. Really, learning how to pray. A bizarre idea, to sacrifice the future, a son. And so began Abraham’s dialogue with God, asking questions, seeking answers if he was doing the right thing. Questioning. Learning how to pray. God maybe wondering the same things, at the samw time. “How do these people pray to me? Or why?” It all seemed to be part of the learning process. For God. For mankind.

Wrestling with the Canons of the church. The baptized and the unbaptized remainder. Most of the 6 billion of the world were wrestling. The Christians. The Jews. Jacob, wrestling with the past. His own. The Canons. The one he would one day pass on. The conflict between the past and the present. Jacob wrestling in the night. Trying to remain honest to who he was. To his father? To himself? Jacob. And then physically afflicted, a lot like the Church of Rome.

The conflict in priesthood between the past and the present. That Psalm 46, “Be still. And know I am God.” Trying to find priests. Was the issue about a Catholic world, any world,, that was not listening?

Fr. Richard McBrien was a priest at Notre Dame who told a personal anecdote of a seminary professor of Ecclesiology during the time of Vatican II. That professor urged seminarians, “soon after John XXIII’s announcement, to pray that the council never be held. For him, and for many other Catholics, the Vatican Council of 1869-70 had rendered all future councils unnecessary, given that council’s reaffirmation of the dogma of papal primacy and its formulation of the new dogma of papal infallibility.”

The struggle in prayer was mostly in the failure to listen.

Baptism. With that 11th Commandment. “Go! Teach all nations. In the name of the Father. And of the Son. And of the Holy Spirit.

When you were at a graduation point, at the baccalaureate address, it was a time to find your own way. Ways that worked amidst the struggle of every young guy, trying to communicate something of significance. In that search, in the lack of movement, had a lethargy set in? A lot like in those stories in the Old Testament. With all of that focus on the line of David. Until Mary and the bloodline where she had come just kind of snuck up on everyone.

Heraclitus was a philosopher who believed “You cannot step twice into the same river. For other waters are continuously flowing on.”


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