Deeply religious ancestry and upbringing, the intellectual pedestal of a teacher and misgivings about the role, authority, and mortal failings of the Clergy combined to make me navigate the difficult language of Tillard and the classic writing style with suspicion and disdain. I must grudgingly admit to having reached the end of the book with admiration and respect for the scholarly work. I feel privileged to share abiding love for Jesus Christ with the distinguished author. The supremacy of personal communion We live in Jesus Christ and he lives within us.
The primacy of individual communion with God through Jesus Christ is so central to my own spiritual experience and theology, that it must occupy pride of place in my most essential abstract of Tillard’s writing. I have cast anchor in the thought that Jesus Christ watches over me and that I am safe in his shadow. His striking example inspires me and gives me strength to face every adversity. I am so enamored of his favor that I can resist every temptation to sin. His shining piety restrains my anger and douses every spark of hatred that I may harbor. I feel his pain on the Cross and rejoice at his rising.
I marvel at his conception and feel incredibly empowered by his infinite wisdom and love. He always has time for me and never fails to appear by my side when I need his aid. His every manifestation is precious for me, more so than all the material wealth that I could ever wish to possess. My bosom is full with joy and I burst with eagerness to spread his eternal word. I am blessed to be with him and feel reassured that Tillard gives such eloquent support to the dictates of my heart. The solidarity imperative Tillard reminds me that Jesus Christ is a vine tended by God. I am a part of the vine.
I even live in the vine. However, it is not mine alone; everyone has equal rights of tenancy! This includes people I may never see. My critical evaluation of others is wrong. I have had harsh thoughts in error. The people whom I do not love and respect are parts of Jesus Christ. He lives in them. I am fortunate that Jesus is patient and will only wryly smile as I admit my failing and reassess my relationships with my rivals and enemies. It is not as though I did not know this before I turned to Tillard’s inspirational work. It is just that I have strayed yet again, as is my unfortunate wont.
I have been reminded that I must share my possessions, serve my community, and live with my fellow people in an atmosphere of understanding and mutual forgiveness. I see the voluntary work of parishioners I know in new and becoming light. I take new satisfaction in the small and humble contributions of my own. I make new resolve to do more for the old, the infirm and those in need who I can serve. Comparative religion has always fascinated me and I have many agnostic friends as well. The concept of the vine comforts me because the allegory helps me build bridges between my religious beliefs and my secular compulsions.
The pagan is parts of the vine as well! Weeds of dissent have sprouted. Tillard says that parts of the vine cannot live in isolation. I accept that others may have some audience with Jesus Christ, but he is mine! I must have him all to myself! This is not consonant with beliefs to which I have stated allegiance earlier. Has Tillard lured me to a trap? I have stood imperiously apart from the laity, thinking that I am above plebian liturgy. I am about to fall off my perch! Disquiet I accompanied my parents for mass and went through the ritual of the sacraments as an obedient child.
I continue to do so for form’s sake on occasion, but prefer to sleep rest and enjoy myself. The equation of personal communion with Jesus Christ had given me a sound platform to lead a life of ease. I had thought that a person of my balanced intelligence did not need the prop of Eucharist. I preferred the ethereal definition of the Church as a virtual association of liberated people joined by love for Jesus Christ. Tillard challenges this with arguments of weight that I cannot bear. It appears that I must partake of the bread and the wine and show solidarity with other parts of the vine.
I regret that I was not ordained and am envious of the Clergy. I resent the bureaucracy of the physical Church and cannot support the mortal failings of its officers. I have personal experience of abuse and believe that many of the others of which I have heard and read must be true. I cannot support the establishment on key social issues. I had thought that staying away from rituals would be an appropriate expression of my dissent. I have reveled in my private communion with Jesus Christ and in my concrete service and sacrifice for my local community.
I have taken pride in my secular credentials and in my ability to weave my faith seamlessly in to my profession. Tillard threatens all this and I am now unsure. I almost wish that I had not read this book! 21st Century Catholicism I have an unlikely savior! I recall Mahatma Gandhi “be the change that you would like to see in the world. ” My love for Jesus Christ is sound. My community service can certainly continue. I need to compromise and pay obeisance to sacraments and liturgy because these symbols bind me to the rest of the vine. The House of the Lord is a pleasure to visit.
There is something special about praying with others. I do not have a logical explanation for Mass, but I cannot deny its salutary effect. I have no right to point a finger at the Clergy, for I do not meet Jesus’ standard to cast stones! Priests cannot be tarred with one brush and it was brash of me to sit in judgment on them. The worst of the storm in my mind appears to be over. Tillard has blown me off my feet, but I am better off after the arduous experience. Thinks appear clearer and more beautiful than before. Jesus Christ smiles benevolently and I feel the enormous power of his love.
I have had to confess but I have won as well. There are many years ahead of my time to rest, but I have not a moment to lose. Passing the Baton The innocence and trust of my wards troubles me. I do not know as much as my parents and teachers but have still to complete my lap. I must do my best to pass on the core of my faith and hope that the children will listen. Can I convey the beauty, grace, and joy that await them at the other side of their mountains of cynicism and immature confidence? Will confirmation remain a mere ritual for them, or will they truly inherit the values I cherish.
Perhaps, as Tillard says, I should focus on action through service and try less to preach to others! Every generation fears for the succeeding one, and yet young people never fail to amaze their elders by displaying incredible intellect and insight when it is demanded of them. I discern a movement away from the Church in the young people around me. This troubles me not just because of my own religious traditions, but because I read of opposing trends amongst some foreign communities of other faiths. I am not equipped to handle such challenges and must rely on the likes of Tillard to bear our standard in battle.