Thursday, March 8, 2012

Continuity and Discontinuity

The desk columnist, in the Catholic Times, after returning from the U.S., comments on the frequent interruptions of that countries' TV dramas by advertising. This interruption repeats every 15 or 20 minutes, and  he found the discontinuity annoying in trying to keep the emotional content of the story intact.

Continuity and discontinuity is the theme the columnist wants to explore in his column. In life, there is an interchange of continuity and discontinuity in many places, especially, in the workplace and in marriage, which starts off with a desire of the partners to live in heavenly bliss, and very shortly the promise gradually loses its flavor: there is fighting,  misunderstandings, and the discontinuity from the day of the  promise. This is also true in our faith life.

Baptized as an adult, the columnist remembers the great happiness of being on fire with a sense of the holy but shortly all became habit, and even the Mass became an onerous burden. And this is also experienced by priests: fervor at ordination, but slowly disappearing as living one's life becomes more like a job than a special vocation. Again, we have discontinuity from what it was meant to be.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, which sought to move the Church closer to the modern world and to revitalize itself for the new times. Using the words of theologian Ormond Rush, the columnist says the Church was seeking more continuity by discontinuity, by continuing some practices of the early years of the Church and by discontinuing some of the stiffness, the authoritarianism toward the world and the laity that  we became accustomed to. The Council wanted more continuity with the ways of Jesus, and to discontinue some of the ways we accepted and practiced before the Council in order to return to the ways of the early Church.

This does not mean that all that was done in the past has no value or was unreasonable.  In  retrospect, they helped to build the Church; all of it was a part of the continuity.

However, if what was done was excessively limited by the times in which they developed and became too rigid, isn't a change or revamping required? he asks.  Wasn't this the reason for the Council? Wasn't this the inspiration that was given to the Church Fathers of the Council?

The columnist wonders if there are serious problems with discontinuing the habits that make us less Christian, preferring the peace of continuity that we have been accustomed to.

This talk of continuance and rupture that we hear so often in the West is not part of the dialogue heard in Korea. The Koreans seem to have an easier way of understanding growth and do not see continuance and discontinuance in the black-and-white way some  Americans tend to see it. Using the word 'rupture' does not, fortunately, come easy to a Korean.