As the Catholic Church, and religion in general, slowly come to terms with the past future --meaning making up for past mistakes, hypocrisy, and unequal treatment -- we should begin the discussion of the future future. What should the Church look like if it really is going to be relevant in the 21st Century? What should the Church be teaching if it is going to get the respect of modern young people, the leaders of today and tomorrow? Granted there is lots of work still to do with the past future including transparency with many Church matters including organization, finances, allowing married priests, women in all roles in the Church, and clear protection and respect for children and all minorities. Accounting for the past future includes getting rid of medieval practices of self-punishment, emotional and sexual denial, and the glorification of suffering as a means to attain Heaven's blessing. There is enough suffering in life without religion adding to life's challenges. If God is love, then nothing but love should be taught to know the Divine within and all around us. Respect for life must include more than the unborn, but also our neighbor who is without work and food, sick, a different skin color, sexual orientation, or dying alone in prison. There is much need. The Church should be a spiritual garden where hearts are respected, embraced, and grown. We discover the abundance of God in such a community as we serve a needy world.
The future future of the Church is calling. The past future is so past that many people -- particularly the best and the brightest -- left the Church a long time ago. This is not good. The best and brightest know through modern science that all beings and species are biologically interconnected in a dangerously changing climate. They need to also know that all hearts are just as connected. The ramifications of the interconnected web of life effects each of us. Planet Earth is small and the role of religion can be for everyone to see the positive effects of love in action, through community and serving one another. The best and the brightest see the limits in materialism and intellectual development. Their hearts are dry and hungry. They have had enough with prejudice and arguing. The future future of religion is many thousand acts of kindness. Pope Francis, in taking the name of St. Francis of Assisi, is calling each of us to become true instruments of peace and healing
We are each called to get out of our small mind and find our place in the large mind, which is the mind of spirit and heart. This is where we end our isolation and cynicism and find our spiritual nature and purpose. Every conversation, relationship, and activity can be part of the Divine. We are realizing the light in our awareness as the Church reminds us to carry intentions of simple acts of love, joy, and service. Daily life is a lesson in letting go of self-importance, while committing ourselves to understanding and appreciation. The future future is a Church with much guidance to offer, calling everyone to have minds open, hearts available as the path to discovering our soul, and the profound presence of God in nature and in us.
People need to know the difference between judging, needing to be right, and a spirituality that embraces and cares. Church can be a place of less preaching and more giving. Guilt and fear can be healed in the presence of the altar in the Church and the altar within each of us. The future future calls for religion to liberate us from the prison of our minds, and to a life of great heart. The priests of the future will be examples of life under the guidance of conscience, offering joy to all -- no matter what one's status in the Church or community. The heroes of the Church will be those who surprise us with the smile in their eyes and their embrace of the most difficult and challenged. The God-filled journey will be based on one's own Divine experience and path, as much as faith in the Biblical stories of others.
The future future Church will give people tools to awaken the heart, bringing the Sacraments fully alive. These tools include retreats in silence to heal our unquiet. How can we be happy in relationship, if we are unhappy in our own solitude? Time in silence is not time twisting in one's complicated thoughts and personal story, but time finding freedom, the freedom of being in the simple peace of one's heart. The church will teach the gifts of contemplation, which wait for everyone underneath the busy mind, as awareness finds the deep reservoir within. There is heart essence, presence, peace and God welcoming us.. Solitude can be the gift to experience harmony with daily life and the cosmos.
The future future Church will have the cornerstone of loving thy neighbor as thy self. Everyone would like to be more compassionate, but our personality seems stuck in selfishness. The future future Church will guide us to the source of compassion within us. In the quiet of our heart is a great valley, green and blooming in forgiveness, patience, trust, innocence, generosity and much more. No matter how much we try to be helpful, we are helpful only as we are open and receive our inner abundance and the grace that comes with it.
Yes, it's time for Pope Francis to finish the business of the past future and open the door for discussion and action towards the future future of the Church. There are dreams to realize, while giving others just the possibility to dream. There are questions to be asked that maybe more important than the answers.
In our world of so many worldly possessions, people's interior lives are poverty stricken. The future future Church must take the lead and invite us to enjoy the wondrous landscape of the heart of life. Pope Francis, please continue to show us the example of a life reaching out in humility, joy, and gratitude. Invite us all to join you in the future future Church as Heaven is affirmed on Earth in the hands and hearts of all of us.