Wednesday, January 31, 2007

I have recently come to the realization...

...that I am something of a crypto-Jansenist, or at least that I have strongly Jansenist tendencies. Too long in the camp of those who unthinkingly wander down the aisle at Communion, without regard for worthiness or the probability of sacrilege in the unprepared heart, I found myself committing an equal and opposite sin or sacrilege: refraining too eagerly. Though Augustinian predestination holds no appeal for me whatsoever, much about the Jansenist view of our sinful nature appeals. GK Chesterson's famous bit about reading the daily paper to confirm the doctrine of original sin seems mere inches from the Jansenist worldview, only needing to be updated to viewing the web every day, and even reading a fair number of Catholic blogs.

There's a line in the song "Grace" by Phil Wyckam that says "I need a voice that's louder than mine!" and that sort of sums it up: the necessity of grace; the roughness of our sinful nature; and a strong propensity for vacillation between a libtertine and scrupulous worldview. I do in fact need a voice that's louder than mine--most days just to get from the shower to the office, let alone through to the end of the work day.

Stressing the need for frequent confession is a good thing: it's good psychologically, as well as theologically. (For a pretty thorough explanation of why I think this is so, you can go here, and here, plus a conversational piece about it here.) Stressing the importance of approaching the Sacrament worthily is good too. And yet...St. Pius X advocated, contra Jansenism, frequent, even daily reception, and wanted First Communion to be as early as possible.

So we have modern day, would-be Jansenists like me, and we have an almost Protestant view of Eucharist as symbol, not substance (or Transsubstance), both present in the Church, and both busily judging others. This post touches on a particular case, going way back, that came up through the folks at Catholic Light.

There has to be a medium, that doesn't reduce God and the Sacrament to a syllogism, that doesn't seek to confine the supernatural within the natural. There has to be a place where Jansenism is condenmed but people remain serious, and take worthiness seriously, but also where people are open to God's Grace and calling, open to the sudden recognition of perfect contrition.

Still finding my feet again, obviously.

7 Comments:

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We wanted to let you know that the Cyber Hymnal™ has a new address: http://www.hymntime.com/tch (your Kairos blog links to the Cyber Hymnal™).

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