Pie-Crust Pietism?

November 1999

There’s a monthly periodical by the name of New Covenant, which calls itself “A Magazine of Catholic Spirituality.” Its September issue has an editorial by Mike Aquilina, its Editor, entitled “On Shutting Up.” Aquilina tells us, “I cringe today when I recall long-ago conversations I had with grieving, anxious or depressed friends.” He says that, as a student of theology back then, he was “free in offering learned solutions to the problems of pain, evil and suffering.” But he’s since learned that “the best response to another’s pain is to keep two ears open….”

Aquilina tells us he has several friends who’ve “suddenly found themselves facing terrible adversities: family upheavals, personal rejection, job loss and lawsuits.” How to respond? He recalls the answers he used to give (as he imagines his friends heard them): “Blah blah God’s will blah blah we grow through our pain blah blah adversity blah blah offer it up.” Such answers, he says, “ring hollow.” Oh.

So now he favors “silent care.” His friends must be profoundly grateful. After all, why would they want answers or an opportunity to hear about offering it up — or even just plain good advice — when they can get silence and maybe a hug?

Aquilina says that to give silent care is to “imitate God” (who presumably never spoke a word or gave us The Word or blessed us with a Church to interpret His Word), and so he informs us that “My prayer this week is that I can shut up long enough to imitate my Lord….”

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New Oxford Notes: November 1999

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