A Catholic Monthly Magazine



by Joy Cowley

Many of us have a negative view of fundamentalism, but doesn’t that word simply describe the beginnings of our growth in faith?

Whether we talk about Islamic fundamentalism, Bible fundamentalism or Canon Law fundamentalism, we are referring to a belief system that is the religious ground in which people are planted.

These systems are designed to help people grow towards God.

Negative stuff can happen if our growth is stunted and we don’t leave the ground; but all going well, every stage is right and held in a love that sends both sun and rain to give us spiritual increase.

Remember when we were new little plants, spreading our roots? Catholic teaching is a one size fits all, but at the same time our church recognises that God shapes us as individuals. No two people are exactly alike.

At this early stage, however, we are still close to the ground and we may be a little worried to see some who are different from us. We may try to correct them, or pretend they don’t belong.

But in that solid earth of belief, the voice of the church is always saying, grow! Grow towards God’s light!

So we grow.  We do not leave our roots. In fact they too, grow and spread, but as we move towards the light, we begin to appreciate the diversity in the church.

We leave behind our black and white understanding and celebrate the wholeness of a forest of many shapes and colours. We look back at our beginnings and thank God for what has been. Then we look up at the taller trees and we give thanks for what will be.

We no longer judge those at a different stage of growth. We accept responsibility for sheltering new plants.

Eventually, the light brings us to full size and we are able to provide shelter for much of creation. Not only that, we now have a view of distant forests and understand that they too, are growing towards the light.

Metaphor and parable help describe this process but it is much harder to give actual description. The head has words. The head is where we hold the ground of belief.

But the heart that reaches for the light, has no words, only feeling. Fed by the roots, the heart grows in the light of the One who changes crosses into fruiting trees. When the heart grows to fullness, our words sometimes disappear. This is meant to be. The difficulty then, is that we don’t know how to describe the space of the light within us. It is not us.

It is something much greater, and what we thought was ‘self’ is reduced to a thin container for sacred presence. Moreover, we see that same light in everyone and everything. It is all a oneness, and it has grown out of our early teaching. And what was that early teaching? We could call it fundamentalism. 

Source CathNews www. cathnews.co.nz

Eglinton Valley

Eglinton Valley

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1 Responses »

  1. Joy - this is a "joy" to read - so wise, so uncondemning, so Pope Francis, so Jesus! Good stuff. Keep writing! (And I'm a pretty liberal person - I think).