Cafeteria Food

Vesper homily for the Vigil of the Memorial of St. Dominic (patron saint)

I attended a morning of reflection the other day for parish and diocese staff about the ministry of administration.  The talk was a little awkward at the beginning and the end because the author of the book we were reflecting on tried some rather trendy prayer techniques. That is my feeling but I know others liked it.

What was surprising, however, as the author was discussing forgiveness in the workplace and she mentioned that it was hard to truly forgive (and that is true) she commented that was why the church still carried the doctrine of purgatory! My heart and mind screamed.

The reason the church ‘still carries’ the doctrine of purgatory is because it is doctrine! It is a foundational belief of the Catholic Faith. To infer that it was just another piece of luggage not only does damage to that doctrine but it does damage to all doctrine.

Purgatory exists! The Catechism of the Catholic Church has three paragraphs that discuss it.[1] This doctrine is based on long standing tradition and upon the Second Book of Maccabees[2] and other parts of Sacred Scripture.[3] It exists!

But even more; this incident highlights an issue that has been around since the beginning of our faith. One that our patron saint Dominic was well acquainted with and has taken on a more intense ‘persona’ since Vatican II – fitting the faith into a more convenient belief system. In this case, a person, of some importance, giving a reflection to a large group and undermining the reality of the faith by either not fully understanding the faith or choosing to nuance it to her preconceived ideas of how the faith should be perpetuates the ‘cafeteria catholic’ malady.

Brothers and sisters, we need to be vigilant; vigilant but loving; loving but immovable as to the truths.  Faithful to our Lord and His whole revelation, not just parts of it. If we hope to celebrate with the heavenly hosts and our Triune God at the eternal banquet our determined vigilance is paramount.

Let’s face it, cafeteria food is never as good as a full banquet.

[1] Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraphs 130-132
[2] 2 MACC 12:39-46; (2 MACC 12:46 – Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be absolved from their sin.)
[3] Rev. 21:27, Hab. 1:13, II Chr. 6:30, Matthew 5:24-26, I Cor 3:11-15