Today’s post in Evangelii Gaudium finds Pope Francis citing his papal predecessor, a concern about museum Christians and small-mindedness:
83. And so the biggest threat of all gradually takes shape: “the gray pragmatism of the daily life of the Church, in which all appears to proceed normally, while in reality faith is wearing down and degenerating into small-mindedness”.[J. RATZINGER, The Current Situation of Faith and Theology. Conference given at the Meeting of Presidents of Latin American Episcopal Commissions for the Doctrine of the Faith, Guadalajara, Mexico, 1996. Cf. Aparecida Document 12] A tomb psychology thus develops and slowly transforms Christians into mummies in a museum. Disillusioned with reality, with the Church and with themselves, they experience a constant temptation to cling to a faint melancholy, lacking in hope, which seizes the heart like “the most precious of the devil’s potions”.[G. BERNANOS, Journal d’un curé de campagne, Paris, 1974, 135] Called to radiate light and communicate life, in the end they are caught up in things that generate only darkness and inner weariness, and slowly consume all zeal for the apostolate. For all this, I repeat: Let us not allow ourselves to be robbed of the joy of evangelization!
It’s truly sad when Christian ministers fall prey to both the melancholy of personal lament. One prominent danger is the lure of addictions. Disillusionment with the Church, we’ve seen that play out prominently in the cover-up crisis of our bishops and the treatment of victims of sexual abuse.
Granted, the failures of the institution as well as our personal sins are very real. At some point, we cease being victims, throwing off the indulgence seen in much of secular society. We are called to be survivors. Why? Because others depend on us. Despite our sins. Despite the Church’s sins. We still call people to Christ.
If we can’t be joyful with our inner turmoil, or with misbehaving pastors, then the least we can offer to those around us is the mercy and grace of Christ. Jesus Christ is the constant, even when people fail.