Wednesday, February 04, 2009

"A Rockier Path"

Earlier this evening, on the train ride back to the city from Yonkers, I finally had the chance to check out the February 2 edition of America.

The edition's cover (at right) features a photo showing a youngish Fr. Joseph Ratzinger (now B16) with the late French priest and theologian Yves Congar, O.P. According to the credit, the photo was taken in 1962 during the Second Vatican Council (subject of the cover story).

The edition also features an intriguing essay by Rabbi Daniel F. Polish that coincides with the current blogosphere discussion on atheism. It's headlined "When a Little Unbelief Is Not a Bad Thing."

Some food for thought -- Rabbi Polish's conclusion:

Spiritual Humility

Jewish tradition also enshrines this faithful skepticism in its liturgy. Every Jewish service ends with a doxology called the Kaddish. Customarily thought of as a mourners’ prayer, it never refers to death at all; rather it is devoted exclusively to extolling God. Yet in the midst of its effusive exaltation, we find embedded the idea that God is not easy to grasp. At the brink of the service’s completion, as worshipers prepare to walk out the door, the liturgy reminds us that God is “beyond all the praises, songs and adorations that we are able to utter in this world,” reminding us not to leave the service feeling smug, as if we had said everything about God that could be said. We can only approximate God and acknowledge the paucity of our effort.

This is a most challenging kind of faith: to live with a God we cannot fully understand, whose actions we explain at our own peril. This God is at the center of our lives. This may be a rockier path to walk than that of either simplistic absolutism or of atheism, but it is the faith of honest men and women, a faith defined by spiritual humility. We can hope such a path leads to the destination promised in the Book of Psalms: “This is the Gate of the Lord, the righteous do enter it.”

The image above is from here.

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